Sila: The Breath of the World contemplates the force behind all of nature. (The title is the Inuit name of the abstract deity behind wind, rain, and life.) Friday and Saturday in
What it will sound like is hard for anybody to say. "John is one of those people, you look at his scores and you scratch your head," said
On a recent afternoon at the
What came out were static, long-held tones -- vaguely similar to chants of Buddhist monks -- creating planes of otherworldly sound. This is only one component of the piece, and one that will sound different amid the acoustical properties of Lincoln Center's wading pool, where the Crossing will be stationed.
Yes, the singers will get their feet wet. "They're going to give us water socks -- which are worn for sea kayaking or really rough tubing on a river," Nally reports. "I think there's a concern about glass or whatever in the pool."
The composer, who was on hand at
"This piece is going to be celebratory," he said. "I'm not interested in doing what I've done before or what other people have done. That's why I do what I do. It's about exploring new territory and sound worlds that come with it. That's part of the job."
In a world where so much is so virtual, Sila truly requires the audience's physical presence to achieve anything close to the intended effect. A departure from orchestra works such as
Similarly, Sila reverses the performer/audience equation. With sound coming down from several directions (including the wading pool), the audience is invited to move around and discover the mixtures of sound they like best.
"When you're inside the concert hall, we're generally trying to seal ourselves off from the world and concentrate on a few carefully produced sounds. It's a turning inward," Adams said. "Outside . . . we're challenged to listen to as many different things as possible. The sound isn't just in front of us. It's a more extroverted kind of listening. You can shape your own experience and find your own way.
"Maybe if you're really lucky, you'll get lost."
"You'll be immersed as intimately as you want to be," said music director
Lest the piece seem too conventional, Perkins won't be acting as a conductor in the usual sense: "I'm cheerleader, hand-holder, and organizer. We're playing large-scale chamber music. I'm coaching and empowering."
Some of that empowerment will be directed toward the composer. Winning the Pulitzer can make artists retreat into safer forms of expression. Adams feels a certain degree of immunity from that. "I'm 61, not 41. Maybe if it happened 20 years ago, it would be different. But I am what I am," he said.
That said . . .
"I did, a couple weeks ago, have a day or two of crisis of faith: 'Is this going to be a colossal flop? What am I doing?' " he said.
Rest assured, he's not mirroring the civilized world. "I've spent most of my life living and working in
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