Veils and Vesper
Music has been influenced by the natural world since its first notes, and John Luther Adams is at the forefront of the conversation about the interplay between environment, music, and listener. As part of its 2017-18 season, Intersection presented Adams’ sound installation Veils and Vesper, a meditative reflection on nature and our interactions within it.
Adams writes that “everything seems to come back to my obsession with music as place.” For this project, Veils and Vesper was installed in the sanctuary of Belmont United Methodist Church, in a busy urban retail neighborhood. The intent was to create a space where people could step back from their daily lives and think about how they listen to music and the sounds around them.
Written in 2005, Veils and Vesper uses synthetic sounds formed by the interactions of a mathematical algorithm and prime numbers to create a sensuous, ever-changing soundscape. Multiple groups of speakers present distinct sections (“Falling Veil,” “Crossing Veil,” “Rising Veil,” and “Vesper”), combining them into a singular work. As patrons come and go over the course of the six-hour performance and move through the installation, the work evolves uniquely around each person’s experience.
Intersection collaborated with intermedia artist Jason Ponce, who has worked closely with Adams on Veils and Vesper installations. Ponce adjusted speaker placement and levels to fit the acoustics of the church, consulting frequently with the composer.
Veils and Vesper was open to the public for five consecutive days in October 2017. Audience members said that the experience was “an aural form of meditation,” a space to learn “how to let the music encompass me rather than trying to comprehend the music,” and that they were “grateful for musical opportunities like this … to grow and learn how to listen differently.”
John Luther Adams embraces natural sounds, noise, silence, and a sense of vastness and gradual motion to increase our awareness of the music and the sounds of the world around us. With these performances Intersection continues to work toward its vision of expanding and shifting the perspectives of audiences through contemporary music as a vital, thriving and inspiring form of art.
Composer John Luther Adams discusses his music in an interview for NewMusicBox in 2011.
Start and End Dates
10/13/2017 — 10/17/2017