Everything That Rises   CB0051

The music

Everything That Risescommissioned by SFJAZZ and the JACK Quartet, is an ever-in-motion virtuosic just-intonation work built of a series of 16 ascending musical “clouds.” Its pitches are derived from the harmonics of the piece’s subsonic fundamental tone (C0).

The composer writes: “Everything That Rises, my fourth string quartet, grew out of Sila: The Breath of the World—a concert-length choral/orchestral work I composed on a rising series of 16 harmonic clouds. This music traverses that same territory, but in a much more melodic way. Each musician is a soloist, playing throughout. Time floats and the lines spin out, always rising, in acoustically perfect intervals that grow progressively smaller as they spiral upward…until the music dissolves into the soft noise of the bows, sighing.”

“Everything That Rises is art without artifice, and its beauty transports the listener into a timeless place outside of everyday experience, surely one of music’s most exalted goals.” —New York Classical Review

“Everything That Rises finds Mr. Adams exploring dissonance and just-intonation tuning, in the gentlest of ways…. [It] is dominated by variations on an ascending figure that ends in a trill. In staggered fashion over the course of an hour, the members of the JACK brought this motif into successively higher partials of different fundamental notes. As one string instrument lagged behind or shot ahead of the others, the effect was pleasingly druggy: dissonant, but not in an overpowering way…. When the players briefly aligned in the same harmonious cloud, there was a sense of release.…” —The New York Times

“Nature and spirit inform every magical page of Adams’s music, and the premiere performance of Everything That Rises last Friday showed the powerful effect of all his formative influences. For an hour, the rapt audience was immersed in strands of sound rising at intervals growing progressively smaller. It could be the sound of paint drying to a detractor, but composers like John Cage and Morton Feldman also knew the almost painful beauty of slow musical evolution and the silence between the notes. Adams brings to mind, with transcendent concentration, the atmosphere of Feldman’s own Rothko Chapel and even the dying strands of Mahler’s Ninth. Everything That Rises takes us to a very still place within. Mere words cannot describe it, but music can conjure it. Something tells me John Luther Adams’s ‘sounds in the air’ may well be an answer to a famous koan.” —Bay Area Reporter

The composer and performers

John Luther Adams, winner of a Pulitzer Prize in Music (2014) and a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition (2015), was for many years based in Alaska, where his work derived much of its unique character from the landscape and weather of the Great North. A few years ago he moved from Alaska, and now splits his time between New York City and Mexico’s Baja California, although his works still take wide-open natural spaces as a primary inspiration.

Described by The New Yorker’s Alex Ross as “one of the most original musical thinkers of the new century,” Adams composes for orchestra, chamber ensembles, and electronic media and has worked with many prominent performers and venues, including the Seattle Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the International Contemporary Ensemble, eighth blackbird, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Alarm Will Sound, the California EAR Unit, Bang on a Can, Percussion Group Cincinnati, Other Minds, the Sundance Institute, Almeida Opera, SFJazz, and the Radio Netherlands Philharmonic.

Adams has written two books, Winter Music and The Place You Go to Listen (both published by Wesleyan University Press). A book of essays about his music, The Farthest Place, was issued by University Press of New England. He has taught at Harvard, Oberlin, Bennington College, and the University of Alaska; been composer in residence with numerous ensembles and festivals; and served as president of the American Music Center. He has received numerous awards and grants, including the Heinz Award for his contributions to raising environmental awareness. His music has been released by a number of record labels, including Cold Blue, which has six CDs devoted to his work, including The Light that Fills the World (CB0010), Red Arc/Blue Veil (CB0026), the place we began (CB0032), Four Thousand Holes (CB0035), and The Wind in High Places (CB0041), as well as two of his shorter works on the anthologies Adams/Cox/Fink/Fox (CB0009) and Cold Blue Two (CB0036).

“Adams’s major works have the appearance of being beyond style; they transcend the squabbles of contemporary classical music.”—Alex Ross, The New Yorker

“The music of John Luther Adams is simply beautiful. It…sounds like it has nothing to accomplish. It simply exists, hanging in mid-air, waiting to be listened to.”—AllMusic Guide

“Out of many eligible composers of his generation, John Luther Adams is the greatest proponent of the American experimental tradition, a lineage that includes Ives, Cowell, Varèse, Partch, Nancarrow, Cage and Tenney.”—Sequenza 21/Contemporary Classical Music Weekly

“[T]he sense of space is an Adams thumbprint—as is the spiritual aura that comes as a consequence.”—Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

“It is impressive to imagine anyone actually following such conceptual virtuosity, much less creating the seamless, seemingly organic layers of sound Adams lays out over his structurally precise and infinitely flexible power grids.”— Gramophone magazine

 

JACK Quartet (violinists Christopher Otto and Austin Wulliman, violist John Pickford Richards, and cellist Jay Campbell) has been deemed “superheroes of the new music world” (Boston Globe), “the go-to quartet for contemporary music, tying impeccable musicianship to intellectual ferocity and a take-no-prisoners sense of commitment.” (The Washington Post), and “a musical vehicle of choice to the next great composers who walk among us” (Toronto Star). The group is focused on the commissioning and performance of new works, leading it to work closely with composers John Luther Adams, Derek Bermel, Chaya Czernowin, James Dillon, Brian Ferneyhough, Beat Furrer, Georg Friedrich Haas, Vijay Iyer, György Kurtág, Helmut Lachenmann, Steve Mackey, Matthias Pintscher, Steve Reich, Roger Reynolds, Wolfgang Rihm, Salvatore Sciarrino, John Zorn, and many others. 

The JACK Quartet electrifies audiences with its “explosive virtuosity” (Boston Globe) and “viscerally exciting performances” (The New York Times). David Patrick Stearns (Philadelphia Inquirer) proclaimed a JACK performance as “among the most stimulating new-music concerts of my experience.”

Recipient of Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award, New Music USA’s Trailblazer Award, and the CMA/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, JACK has performed to critical acclaim at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Wigmore Hall (UK), Suntory Hall (Japan), Salle Pleyel (France), Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ (Netherlands), La Biennale di Venezia (Italy), the Lucerne Festival (Switzerland), Bali Arts Festival (Indonesia), Reykjavik Arts Festival (Iceland), Festival Internacional Cervatino (Mexico), Kölner Philharmonie (Germany), Donaueschinger Musiktage (Germany), and the Wittener Tage für neue Kammermusik (Germany).

“The string quartet may be a 250-year-old contraption, but young, brilliant groups like the JACK Quartet are keeping it thrillingly vital.”—The Washington Post 

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