Music of the Anthropocene

Music of the Anthropocene

John Luther Adams (composer, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Become Ocean)
Thursday, June 4 / 4:00 PM
McCune Conference Room, 6020 HSSB

Today a growing number of geologists believe we have left the Holocene and entered a new period—the Anthropocene—in which the dominant geologic force is humanity itself.  What does this mean for music? What does it mean for a composer, or for any creative artist working in any medium today?  Can music be engaged with current events and at the same time detached from them? Can music resonate with world around us, and yet still create a world of its own?

Called “one of the most original musical thinkers of the new century” (Alex Ross, The New Yorker), John Luther Adams is a composer whose life and work are deeply rooted in the natural world. Adams composes for orchestra, chamber ensembles, percussion and electronic media. A recipient of the Heinz Award for his contributions to raising environmental awareness, Adams has also been honored with the Nemmers Prize from Northwestern University “for melding the physical and musical worlds into a unique artistic vision that transcends stylistic boundaries.”

Sponsored by the IHC’s Idee Levitan Endowment and the IHC series The Anthropocene: Views from the Humanities.

Footage from the documentary Strange and Sacred Noise
courtesy of Leonard Kamerling and the Alaska Center for Docuemtary Film,
Univeristy of Alaska Museum of the North

Listen to a recording of this talk by John Luther Adams for the IHC series The Anthropocene: Views from the Humanities.

John Luther Adams will also appear at the Ojai Music Festival:

Sila: The Breath of the World (West Coast Premiere)
Thu June 11, 3:30-4:45 PM
Libbey Park, Ojai

Festival collaborator and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Luther Adams returns to Ojai with the West Coast premiere of “Sila: The Breath of the World,” to be performed at a free community event throughout Libbey Park. This new work for an ensemble of 80 musicians received its first performances last July at the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival. In the Inuit tradition, sila is the spirit that animates all things – the wind, the weather, and all forces of nature. In “Sila,” composed specifically to be heard outdoors listeners alike are encouraged to move about the performance space freely. The Ojai performance will include musicians from CalArts, ICE, and percussion ensemble red fish blue fish.

For more information, visit or call 805-646-2053. Sila is a free event and open to the public.
We encourage audience members to bring blankets or chairs.