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Out Today: The Crossing Featured On John Luther Adams' 'Sila: The Breath Of The World'

Adams' most ambitious large-scale work features The Crossing alongside JACK Quartet and musicians from the University of Michigan.

Out Today: The Crossing Featured On John Luther Adams' 'Sila: The Breath Of The World'

Acclaimed GRAMMY-winning choir The Crossing is featured alongside JACK Quartet and musicians from the University of Michigan on John Luther Adams' Sila: The Breath of the World, out today on Cantaloupe Music. Considered his most ambitious large-scale work to date, Adams describes the piece as "being rooted in our own unique position within the music and within the world, and from this loose collection of solitudes, community emerges."

Inspired by the Inuit term "sila" meaning the spirit that animates all things, Sila was first premiered in 2014 with The Crossing, standing in the reflecting pool on Heinz Plaza at Lincoln Center, representing 16 of the 80 musicians surrounding the audience at this historic event. "Sila is the wind and the weather, the forces of nature," Adams said, "But it's also something more. Sila is intelligence. It's consciousness. It's our awareness of the world around us, and the world's awareness of us. In this time when we humans are so dramatically changing the earth, Sila: The Breath of the World is an invitation to stop and listen more deeply."

Each of the five "choirs" of Sila (voices, strings, winds, brass, and percussion) were recorded separately - a circumstance occasioned by the nature of each musician's independence, as well as the protocols of the pandemic. As in the performance, the individual parts were then synthesized within their own "choir" and from "choir to choir," layered to create the surprisingly transparent, mystical whole - a living, breathing organism that takes on the collective intent of its performers, and its composer, to transcend the forces of nature and become, in a sense, a "breath of the world."

About The Crossing
The Crossing is a Grammy Award-winning professional chamber choir conducted by Donald Nally and dedicated to new music. It is committed to working with creative teams to make and record new, substantial works for choir that explore and expand ways of writing for choir, singing in choir, and listening to music for choir. Many of its nearly 150 commissioned premieres address social, environmental, and political issues.

The Crossing collaborates with some of the world's most accomplished ensembles and artists, including the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, American Composers Orchestra, Network for New Music, Lyric Fest, Piffaro, Beth Morrison Projects, Allora & Calzadilla, Bang on a Can, Klockriketeatern, and the International Contemporary Ensemble. Similarly, The Crossing often collaborates with some of world's most prestigious venues and presenters, such as the Park Avenue Armory, Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Pennsylvania, National Sawdust, David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center, Disney Hall in Los Angeles, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Menil Collection in Houston, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Haarlem Choral Biennale in The Netherlands, The Finnish National Opera in Helsinki, The Kennedy Center in Washington, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, Symphony Space in New York, Winter Garden with WNYC, and Duke, Northwestern, Colgate, and Notre Dame Universities. The Crossing holds an annual residency at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center in Big Sky, Montana.

With a commitment to recording its commissions, The Crossing has issued 27 releases, receiving two GRAMMY Awards for Best Choral Performance (2018, 2019), and seven Grammy nominations. The Crossing, with Donald Nally, was the American Composers Forum's 2017 Champion of New Music. They were the recipients of the 2015 Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence, three ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming, and the Dale Warland Singers Commission Award from Chorus America.

Recently, The Crossing has expanded its choral presentation to film, working with Four/Ten Media, in-house sound designer Paul Vazquez of Digital Mission Audio Services, visual artists Brett Snodgrass and Steven Bradshaw, and composers David Lang, Michael Gordon, and Paul Fowler on live and animated versions of new and existing works. Lang's protect yourself from infection and in nature as well as Paul Fowler's Obligations, based on a poem of Layli Long Soldier, were specifically created to be within the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Crossing's pandemic response daily series, Rising w/ The Crossing, a series of 72 live performances with notes by Nally, has been archived by the Library of Congress as "an important part of the collection and the historical record."

The Crossing is represented by Alliance Artist Management. All of its concerts are broadcast on WRTI, Philadelphia's Classical and Jazz public radio station. Learn more at

About John Luther Adams
For John Luther Adams, music is a lifelong search for home-an invitation to slow down, pay attention, and remember our place within the larger community of life on earth. Living for almost 40 years in northern Alaska, JLA discovered a unique musical world grounded in space, stillness, and elemental forces. In the 1970s and into the '80s, he worked full time as an environmental activist. But the time came when he felt compelled to dedicate himself entirely to music. He made this choice with the belief that, ultimately, music can do more than politics to change the world.

In works such as Become Ocean, In the White Silence, and Canticles of the Holy Wind, Adams brings the sense of wonder that we feel outdoors into the concert hall. And in outdoor works such as Inuksuit and Sila: The Breath of the World, he employs music as a way to reclaim our connections with place, wherever we may be.

A deep concern for the state of the earth and the future of humanity drives Adams to continue composing. As he puts it: "If we can imagine a culture and a society in which we each feel more deeply responsible for our own place in the world, then we just may be able to bring that culture and that society into being. This will largely be the work of people who will be here on this earth when I am gone. I place my faith in them."

Since leaving Alaska, JLA and his wife Cynthia have lived in the Sonoran, Atacama, and Chihuahuan deserts, and in the wilds of Manhattan.

About JACK Quartet
Hailed by The New York Times as "our leading new-music foursome", the JACK Quartet is one of the most acclaimed, renowned, and respected groups performing today. JACK has maintained an unwavering commitment to their mission of performing and commissioning new works, giving voice to underheard composers, and cultivating an ever-greater sense of openness toward contemporary classical music. The quartet was selected as Musical America's 2018 "Ensemble of the Year", nominated for GRAMMY Awards for recordings in 2018 & 2022, named to WQXR's "19 for 19 Artists to Watch", and awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant. Through intimate relationships with today's most creative voices, JACK embraces close collaboration with the composers they perform, leading to a radical embodiment of the technical, musical, and emotional aspects of their work. The quartet has worked with artists such as Julia Wolfe, George Lewis, Chaya Czernowin, Helmut Lachenmann, Caroline Shaw, and Simon Steen-Andersen. JACK's all-access initiative, JACK Studio, commissions a selection of artists each year, who will receive money, workshop time, mentorship, and resources to develop new work to be performed and recorded by the quartet. Comprising violinists Christopher Otto and Austin Wulliman, violist John Pickford Richards, and cellist Jay Campbell, JACK operates as a nonprofit organization dedicated to the performance, commissioning, and appreciation of new string quartet music.

About Cantaloupe Music
Cantaloupe Music is the record label created and launched in March 2001 by the three founders of New York's legendary Bang on a Can organization-composers Michael Gordon, David Lang and Julia Wolfe-with Bang on a Can managing director Kenny Savelson. Cantaloupe has made a massive impact in the new music community, and has been recognized by critics and fans worldwide for its edgy and adventurous sounds. The label's mission has been to provide a home for contemporary classical and post classical music that is, in the words of Michael Gordon, "too funky for the academy."

Throughout the label's 20-year history, Cantaloupe recordings have been lauded by the New York Times, Rolling Stone, the Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio, the New Yorker, the Washington Post, The Guardian (UK), Billboard and Gramophone, among others. With over 100 titles in an ever-growing catalog that features recordings by the Bang on a Can All-Stars (Bang on a Can's flagship ensemble), Kronos Quartet, So Percussion, Alarm Will Sound and more, the label is home to most of the recorded music written by Gordon, Lang and Wolfe, and has also released key recordings of recent works by John Luther Adams (including the Pulitzer-winning Become Ocean, which also won a Grammy in 2015), as well as Meredith Monk, Glenn Kotche, Martin Bresnick, Derek Bermel, Donnacha Dennehy, Kate Moore, Caleb Burhans, Florent Ghys, Michael Harrison, and an even wider range of emerging young composers.

Sila: The Breath of the World Tracklist
1. Sila: The Breath of the world [57:05]

The Crossing
Donald Nally - conductor
Kevin Vondrak - assistant conductor
Jonathan Bradley - executive director
Shannon McMahon - operations manager

JACK Quartet
Christopher Otto - violin
Austin Wulliman - violin
John Pickford Richards - viola
Jay Campbell - cello

Doug Perkins - music director

Musicians of The University of Michigan
Department of Chamber Music
Chair: Matt Albert

University of Michigan Percussion Ensemble
Co-directors: Ian Antonio and Doug Perkins

Produced by Doug Perkins and Nathaniel Reichman
Recording engineers: Bill Maylone, Paul Vazquez
Mixing and immersive mastering: Nathaniel Reichman Music editing: Doug Perkins, Paul Vazquez

Recorded on March 21, 22, 23, and 24, 2021 in Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, MI and Christ Church Christiana Hundred, Wilmington, DE. Performed by The Crossing, JACK Quartet, the musicians of the University of Michigan Department of Chamber Music and the University of Michigan Percussion Ensemble.

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