TEN THOUSAND BIRDS
BY JOHN LUTHER ADAMS
Alarm Will Sound presents Ten Thousand Birds by John Luther Adams, Pulitzer Prize-Winning composer, on July 11th at Caramoor in Katonah, NY. In this physical distancing-friendly performance audience will walk the grounds while instrumental sounds commingle with the calls of wildlife, rustling leaves, and human footfalls. As in John Luther Adams’s composition, birdsong becomes music, instrumental sounds transmute into natural ones, and the open setting becomes artistic space, where the lines blur between human creativity and natural phenomena.
Ten Thousand Birds is based on the songs of birds that are native to, or migrate through the American northeast and midwest. It explores the connections between nature and music, a topic that John Luther Adams has pursued over the course of his remarkable career. Most recently in Sila: Breath of the World and Become Ocean (for which he won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize and Grammy) he has portrayed—in big musical gestures—the awe one experiences in response to nature’s grandeur. In Ten Thousand Birds, on the other hand, the source of inspiration is particular birdsongs, captured in minute detail. Adams writes: “In this music, time is not measured. Each page in the score will be its own self-contained world that occupies its own physical space and its own time.”