Sila: The Breath of the World

Sila: The Breath of the World

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Sila is a continuing exploration of
what it means to make music outdoors. What might constitute an
authentic outdoor music. (PERKINS)
We’re going to fill the
space with sound and we’re going to give this
very beautiful hour of music. But what’s going to be, I think,
the most moving is that we’re going to make Hearst Plaza
resonate in a way that when… when you leave Hearst Plaza
after hearing Sila, the plaza won’t be the same to you. It will have been transformed in
your mind through these sounds, and you will have a sense of what
this corner of Lincoln Center feels like and what it sounds like. (ADAMS)
Sila is a sight-determined piece. So it’s not made just for this place. The challenge for the musicians is
to find the music of the piece within the larger, never-ending
music of the place. This is perhaps the most important
performance the piece will ever have because it’s the premiere.
But in my imagination, there is no definitive performance
of a piece like Sila. Each performance and each performance
site with each different configuration of ensemble or ensembles is going
to be a different experience, and in some real way, a different piece. There are five separate scores. One for each of the choirs. Strings, brass, woodwinds,
percussion, and the voices. Each of those scores can
be performed on its on, or in any combination with
any of the others. Successively or concurrently. In the
same space, or in different spaces. (PERKINS)
To keep the piece moving at the same
pace, everybody has timers that dictates when they will
change their chord and move to the next section
of the piece. But at the very small level, everybody
has music that is paced out at the pace of everyone’s
individual breath. They’re using the length
of a long exhale to determine the length of
the pitch they’ll play. And then the silences in between
the pitches are all at the length of their inhales. So the orchestra will kind of be
pulsing sort of as a living organism but each member at their own pace
to create this one unified sound. Being that it was for
Lincoln Center Out of Doors, it was a priority to, of course,
do it on Lincoln Center campus. (ADAMS)
There was this process of visiting
and revisiting different times of year, different times of day. Listening to the
sounds of the city around Lincoln Center. Listening to the reflective or acoustic
properties of each nook and cranny within Lincoln Center, and we finally
decided on the Hearst Plaza. (PERKINS)
It’s a little quieter. It’s also
an intimate space. You’re hugged by the buildings
and by the lawn. It very quickly became clear that there
were the most possibilities to make something that is musically and
visually special. (ADAMS)
There is no “best seat in the house.” You will be able to wander around
and create your own mix actively as the music is unfolding. And you may choose to get up
close and personal with one choir and immerse yourself in that world, but
I also hope that there’s a possibility in some locations within the plaza
for hearing the whole thing. Hearing the symphonic
mix of the piece. Before we know whether it has
a life beyond Lincoln Center, we have to be sure that it
works at Lincoln Center. This is a premiere, and it’s a
highly experimental work. I’m confident that it will work
in this space, and that it will work in other spaces. [audience applause]

7 thoughts on “Sila: The Breath of the World”

  1. Doubtless all here are top flight musicians… but… I found the end product unintelligible and an effort to listen to…

  2. Performing this on Saturday. Should be very interesting, with the mountains of Montana in the background and the breezes blowing!

  3. Caught the Midwest Premiere 9/26/2015 on the south lawn of the Ryan Center, Northwestern U. performance by 80 Beinen Music School students, conducted by Nally, Bolter and Perkins. Lake Michigan to the east and Chicago to the south. I dug it.

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