Washington Performing Arts & Kennedy Center present Adams SILA at REACH
Washington Performing Arts and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced today a co-presentation of Sila: The Breath of the World by American composer John Luther Adams, in cooperation with The United States Air Force Band.
The work “Choose Your Own Adventure” co-commissioned by Washington Performing Arts and premiered locally in 2015 – is offered as a free outdoor performance on Sunday, September 26 at the REACH campus of the Kennedy Center, starting at 5:00 p.m. . Details on Washington Performingarts.org.
“Sila is an extraordinary work to experience,” said Jenny Bilfield, President and CEO of Washington Performing Arts. “We are delighted to resume our collaboration with the United States Air Force Band and bring it to the Kennedy Center for its 50th anniversary season. As visitors walk among the musicians, they will feel and hear the music. Adams from so many perspectives. He has created such a poetic and timely reflection on the power of nature, and our awareness of the world and our place within it. His beauty and meaning resonate all the more strongly today. “
Adams created Sila to be heard outdoors, where musicians and listeners can move freely in the performance space. During the interactive experience, musicians from the United States Air Force Band will disperse around the REACH campus, allowing listeners to explore the work from multiple angles. Participants will walk among them and discover how the atmospheric piece can make connections through music, nature and the world around us. As Adams himself put it, “If we can imagine a culture and a society in which everyone feels more deeply responsible for their own place in the world, then maybe we can create that culture and this society. “
The United States Air Force Band, led by Colonel Don Schofield, has partnered with Washington Performing Arts since the start of the project. Commenting on its development, Col. Schofield said: “We are delighted to collaborate again with Washington Performing Arts, this time in collaboration with the Kennedy Center, to perform John Luther Adams’ composition Sila. Partnerships are more important than ever, and this coin beautifully represents the ever-evolving, yet vital role that individuals play in creating the whole that makes up our community. Their collaboration extends to the United States Air Force Band’s Honorary Commanders Program, in which Ms. Bilfield and Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter were inducted in 2016 and 2021 respectively.
In the Inuit tradition (indigenous peoples living in the arctic regions of Alaska, Canada and Greenland), Sila is the spirit that animates all the forces of nature. Both literally and symbolically, Sila emanates from Earth and rises to the sky. Inspired by this, Adams’ piece for five different ensembles of woodwind, brass, percussion, strings and vocals traverses 16 harmonic “clouds”, based on the first 16 harmonics of a low B flat. All other tones in the music fall “between the cracks” of the piano keyboard, out of the 12-tone temperament grid. Sila lasts about 70 minutes, with no clearly demarcated end. The music gradually dissolves into the larger soundscape and the musicians join in listening to the continuous music of the place.
For John luther adams, music is a constant search for home, an invitation to slow down, pay attention and remember our place within the larger community of life on Earth. Living for nearly 40 years in northern Alaska, Adams discovered a unique musical world based on space, stillness and elemental forces. In the 1970s and until the 1980s, he worked full time as an environmental activist. But the moment came when he felt compelled to devote himself entirely to music. He made this choice with the conviction that ultimately music can do more than politics to change the world. Since then, he has become one of the world’s most admired composers, receiving the Pulitzer Prize, a Grammy Award and many other honors.
In works such as Become Ocean, In the White Silence, and Canticles of the Holy Wind, Adams brings the sense of wonder we experience outside into the concert hall. And in outdoor works such as Inuksuit and Sila: The Breath of the World, he uses music as a way to reconnect with the place, wherever we are. A deep concern for the state of the earth and the future of humanity drives Adams to continue composing.
Since leaving Alaska, Adams and his wife Cynthia have made their home in the deserts of Mexico, Chile, and the southwestern United States.
One of the most established and honored performing arts institutions in America, Washington Performing Arts has been involved for more than half a century with artists, the public, students and civic life. The city is truly our stage: for decades, in venues ranging from concert halls and clubs to public parks, we’ve showcased a vast array of artists and art forms, from the most distinguished symphony orchestras to performers. renowned and emerging from classical music, jazz, international genres, etc. We also have an ever-expanding artistic and educational presence on the internet, envisioning continued opportunities for online connection and community.
Washington Performing Arts deeply values its partnerships with local organizations and other arts institutions. Through events online and in a myriad of venues and neighborhoods, we engage international guest artists in community programs and showcase local artists to a wider audience. We place great importance on the establishment of artists as a continuing presence in the lives of youth and adults through residencies and education programs.
Our accomplishments have been recognized with a National Arts Medal and three DC Government Mayor’s Arts Awards. We have now entered our second half-century, still inspired by the motto of our founder, Patrick Hayes: “Everyone inside, no one outside.
To learn more about the Kennedy Center, please visit www.kennedy-center.org.