Immerse yourself in John Luther Adams’ ‘Inuksuit’ at Maloit Park, Aug. 6
MINTURN — In a rare presentation of an epic environmental piece, the Bravo! Vail music festival presents a performance of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Luther Adams’ monumental outdoor work “Inuksuit” during a special event in Maloit Park at 2 p.m. Saturday. The performance closes the festival’s 2016 summer season and is free to the community.
This performance of “Inuksuit” will feature 66 percussionists playing either individually or as part of small groups throughout Maloit Park. Audience members will walk through the park, finding themselves immersed in a cohesive sonic landscape that provides new perspectives on what it means to hear and to listen. “Inuksuit” has been performed across the world, and audiences have described the experience as surreal, meditative, immersive and exploratory.
Adams, whom The New Yorker has called “one of the most original musical thinkers of the new century,” has said in the past that his music “has always been profoundly influenced by the natural world and a strong sense of place.” While composing “Inuksuit” — scored for 9 to 99 percussionists — Adams drew inspiration from the landscapes of Alaska. Adams said the work, which The New York Times described as “the ultimate environmental piece,” is “haunted by the vision of the melting of the polar ice, the rising of the seas and what may remain of humanity’s presence after the waters recede.”
Adams also described “Inuksuit” as reflecting “the natural evolution” of his work over the years and his tendency toward “making pieces that are bigger and bigger sonic landscapes, pieces that have begun to exceed the capacity of enclosed spaces. At a certain point,” he said, “the music becomes too big for a concert hall, so then you sort of have no choice but to move outside.”
Because percussion “makes noise, not tone,” the “inseparable relationship between noise and silence” is a defining characteristic of “Inuksuit,” Adams said.
“When we regard noise as an intrusion,” he said, “it bothers us, it annoys us; we try to keep it out. But when we welcome noise as something to hear, then suddenly the whole world becomes music.”
The active, non-fixed role of the audience for “Inuksuit” means that the piece “is all about the listener shaping their own experience,” Adams said, and the different landscapes of different outdoor performance venues impact the piece, as well. Even though “all the individual parts, every sound that someone plays in the piece, is written,” Adams said, “exactly when and exactly where and exactly how individual events relate to one another is open to the conditions of the performance site and to the magic of the moment.”
While for “Inuksuit” Adams conceives of “each instrumentalist as a soloist and each listener as a solitary figure,” he hopes the piece becomes greater than the sum of its parts.
“Out of the shared experience of our individual listening emerges this larger sense that we’re all in something bigger than we are,” he said.
“Inuksuit” is a co-production between Bravo! Vail and the Aspen Music Festival and School, supported by the town of Minturn and Eagle County Schools.