Emerald City Music begins its second season on a high note — with a world premiere by Pulitzer- and Grammy-winning composer John Luther Adams.
“There is no one, not even the wind …,” commissioned by The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Emerald City Music and three other groups, premieres Friday in Seattle and Saturday in Olympia.
“The world premiere was at first scheduled for Lincoln Center,” said Andrew Goldstein, Emerald City’s executive director. “They were really generous as we were coordinating and trying to figure out when to do this. They were able to gift us this world premiere, and so it will start here.
“Our Seattle show is very close to selling out,” he said. “It’s definitely drawing a different attention, to have a world premiere for someone who made his fame in Seattle with ‘Become Ocean.’ ”
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“Become Ocean” was commissioned by the Seattle Symphony. The 2013 piece, composed of slow-moving sequences of sound that overlap in an ever-changing pattern, won both a Pulitzer and a Grammy. Though it made a huge splash in the world of classical music and beyond, the piece is subtle and spacious.
So too is "there is no one, not even the wind ...," inspired by the Mexico’s Sonoran Desert, where Adams — long a resident of Alaska — now lives.
“It’s hard to say exactly what the effect is going to be,” said Ransom Wilson, who initiated the commission and will play flute at all five debut performances. “It’s very, very spare.
“My experience of listening to his music is that it slows me down, and it makes me start to think about what’s around me,” said Wilson, who plays with the chamber society and is artistic director of the Redlands Symphony, another of the presenting organizations. “Without saying a word, he manages to make us think about the environment and nature. His music kind of moves at the pace of nature.”
In fact the composer sees his music as a landscape.
“I have begun to explore a territory I call ‘sonic geography’ — a region that exists somewhere between place and culture, between human imagination and the world around us,” he wrote in the liner notes to 1994’s “Earth and the Great Weather.” “I hope to move beyond landscape painting in sound toward a music which, in its own way, is landscape.”
“For a composer who writes the kind of music that he writes to become a household name in the classical-music world is extraordinary,” Wilson said. “His music demands a certain amount of contemplative time, and that’s in such short supply in our society. He’s addressing something that’s missing in our concert experience.”
That fits neatly into the mission of Emerald City Music, which aims to present chamber music in fresh ways and to bring it to new audiences.
“In both Seattle and Olympia (performances), we’re seeing a lot of people new to classical music, especially new to chamber music,” Goldstein said. “It brings this energy to the audience that we are thrilled by. At our opening night last year, the Olympia audience leapt to their feet after the first movement of the first piece.
“It was huge energy,” he added. “It’s not common for people who are familiar with classical music to clap between movements.”
“There is no one, not even the wind …”
What: Emerald City Music launches its second season with a program that includes the world premiere of this new piece by Pulitzer Prize-winner John Luther Adams.
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Washington Center for the Performing Arts, 512 Washington St. SE, Olympia
Tickets: $28 and $45, $10 for students
Also on the program: Leonard Bernstein’s “America” from “West Side Story” (1957); Andrew Norman’s “Light Screens” (2002); Steve Reich’s “Nagoya Marimba” (1996); and Antonín Dvořák’s Piano Quartet in E-Flat Major (1889).
The rest of the season
• Andy Akiho — 7:30 p.m. Oct. 28, Minnaert Center for the Arts at South Puget Sound Community College, 2011 Mottman Road SW, Olympia
• Miró Quartet — 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9, The Evergreen State College Recital Hall, 2700 Evergreen Parkway, Olympia
• Spiritual Journey — 7:30 p.m. Feb. 17, Minnaert Center
• In Blue — 7:30 p.m. March 24, Minnaert Center
• Metamorphosis — 7:30 p.m. March 24, Evergreen Recital Hall