‘Become Desert’ Concert Broadcast: June 7, 9pm PT

by Maggie Molloy

John Luther Adams is known for crafting vast sonic landscapes that echo with the textures and timbres of the natural world. Most famous among them is Become Ocean, his Pulitzer Prize and Grammy-winning orchestral work commissioned and recorded by the Seattle Symphony in 2013.

Last year, our orchestra premiered the highly-anticipated sequel, Become Desert—and you can hear it this weekend on Classical KING FM.

Tune in on Friday, June 7 at 9pm to hear Adams’ expansive desert sound world in its original concert performance by the Seattle Symphony and Chorale, conducted by Ludovic Morlot. (And as if an immersive new John Luther Adams premiere wasn’t enough on its own, the piece is paired with another musical mammoth: Beethoven’s Emperor Piano Concerto featuring pianist Jeremy Denk.)

Written specifically for Benaroya Hall, Adam’s Become Desert features members of the Seattle Symphony and Chorale divided into five different ensembles which surround the audience, immersing them in sound, space, and “the singing of the light” (a quote Adams borrows from the great Mexican poet Octavio Paz). The piece was composed at a pivotal moment in Adams’ life: after living for most of his career in Alaska, he moved to the Mexican desert.

In this interview conducted before the piece’s world premiere, John Luther Adams speaks with KING FM’s Dave Beck about moving from tundra to desert, his fascination with immense spaces, and the importance of using the right tools—in his case, the perfect number 2 pencil.



Want to hear it again?

A studio recording of Become Desert will be released on June 14 as an album available on Cantaloupe Music. The two-disc set includes a DVD featuring a surround sound mix of the recording, as well as a slideshow of desert images shot by Adams himself.

Click here for more information, and here for NPR Music’s First Listen.

Wandering, Wailing, and World Premiering with Kin of the Moon

by Dacia Clay

Ultra-soprano Emily Thorner performs this weekend with Kin of the Moon.

Three world premieres make up the concert program for Kin of the Moon’s next performance this Saturday at the Good Shepherd Chapel.

Kaley Lane Eaton’s FUNERAL SENTENCES FOR DAMAGED CELLS, written for and performed by ultra-soprano Emily Thorner, explores the voice as a conduit for expressing transgenerational trauma. It’s paired with two new works by Leanna Keith inspired by taiko drumming and Chinese tea ceremonies, respectively.

In this audio interview, Kaley and Leanna talk about their new premieres, about how Kin of the Moon came to be, and—most importantly—about crows.

Audio production by Dacia Clay. Audio engineer: Nikhil Sarma.


Kin of the Moon and Emily Thorner perform this Saturday, June 1 at 8pm at the Good Shepherd Chapel. For more information, click here.

From Octave 9 to Outer Space: Derek Bermel’s Adventures at the Seattle Symphony

by Maggie Molloy

As Composer-in-Residence with the Seattle Symphony this year, Derek Bermel kept pretty busy. Putting together multimedia performances in the brand new Octave 9 space, collaborating with local veterans through the Compass Housing Alliance, and nurturing the voices of young composers were just a few of his weekly activities.

He also wrote an immersive new piece about the Mars rover Curiosity, was featured as part of a 24-hour contemporary music marathon, and found an innovative new way to fit the full Seattle Symphony Orchestra within the intimate walls of Octave 9.

Learn about all this and more in our interview with the composer below.


Music in this interview is from Derek Bermel’s Hot Zone, performed by Alarm Will Sound. This interview originally aired on Classical KING FM’s Seattle Symphony Spotlight. Audio editing by Dave Beck.

Soprano Estelí Gomez Soars with Seattle Pro Musica

by Dacia Clay

Soprano Estelí Gomez performs with Seattle Pro Musica on May 18 and 19.

You may know Estelí Gomez as the soaring soprano of the Grammy-winning vocal troupe Roomful of Teeth. She’s also a globe-trotting soloist, performing alongside collaborators ranging from the Seattle Symphony to Yo-Yo Ma and his Silk Road Ensemble.

This weekend, she’s in town as a soloist performing alongside the singers of Seattle Pro Musica. The concert is Passion and Resurrection, titled after the program’s centerpiece by Ēriks Ešenvalds. A dramatic masterwork for choir, soprano soloist, and string orchestra, the piece is unique in highlighting the voice of Mary Magdalene as the female soloist and narrator. The program also includes Frank Martin’s luminous Mass for Double Choir and the world premiere of Panta rhei, a new work by Seattle Pro Musica’s conductor, Karen P. Thomas.

In this interview, we talk with Gomez about her study of wide-ranging vocal traditions, the musical intricacies of Ēriks Ešenvalds, and the value of the human voice.

Music in this interview from Karen P. Thomas’s Panta rhei.
Audio production by Dacia Clay.


Estelí Gomez and Seattle Pro Musica perform Passion and Resurrection on Saturday, May 18 and Sunday, May 19 at 8pm at St. James Cathedral. For tickets and more information, please click here.

Brainy Music: Getting Cerebral with the JACK Quartet

Christopher Otto and Austin Wulliman of the JACK Quartet.

by Dacia Clay

Ever wonder what’s happening in our brains when we make or hear music? Composers and researchers from the University of Washington teamed up with the JACK Quartet to find out.

Over the course of a three-year residency at UW, the team studied the integration of brain and body signals in artistic performance. They outfitted the JACK Quartet with portable brain helmets and muscle sensors that detected brain activity while listening to, seeing, and performing music. Then, they harnessed these neuroscientific discoveries to create new art.

The culmination of this extended residency is a concert this Saturday night titled Human Subjects. Featuring original music by Richard Karpen and Juan Pampin (from the UW DXARTS Faculty), the concert combines the JACK Quartet’s sonified brain waves and neural sensors with music played live on their actual string instruments.

In this interview, we talk with violinist Christopher Otto and violist John Pickford Richards about new music, neuroscience, and what it’s like to be a human subject.


The JACK Quartet performs Human Subjects this Saturday, May 18 at 7:30pm at Meany Hall. For tickets and more information, click here.