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Veils and Vesper

A John Luther Adams sound installation challenges audience members to explore how they listen to music and the environment.


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.

Project Media

Veils and Vesper: Preview with Jason Ponce
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Intermedia artist Jason Ponce discusses the John Luther Adams sound installation Veils and Vesper.

John Luther Adams: The Music of a True Place
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Features: John Luther Adams

Composer John Luther Adams discusses his music in an interview for NewMusicBox in 2011.

Toru Takemitsu: Rain Coming for Chamber Orchestra (1982)
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Excerpt from a performance by Intersection
Kelly Corcoran, Conductor
Thursday, October 29, 2015 at 7:30pm
Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum

Start and End Dates



Nashville, Tennessee

Project Created By

Nashville, Tennessee
Intersection is a flexible contemporary music ensemble dedicated to challenging the traditional concert experience, exploring music of the 20th and 21st centuries, supporting living composers, presenting programs for younger audiences, embracing collaboration, technology and the avant-garde, while expanding, respecting and embracing the musical and cultural diversity of Nashville. Founded by conductor Kelly Corcoran in 2014,…

In Collaboration With

Artistic Director
Sound installation
San Francisco, California
New York, New York


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