Julia Wolfe World Premieres
June will see two world premieres for Julia Wolfe. unEarth will premiere on June 1 at David Geffen Hall with Jaap van Zweden and the New York Philharmonic (lead commissioner), featuring Soprano Else Torp. Pretty (commissioned by the Berlin Philharmonic, Houston Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, and St. Louis Symphony) will premiere on June 8 with Kirill Petrenko and the Berlin Philharmonic.
Written for full orchestra, men’s chorus, and children’s chorus, unEarth is a large-scale work that addresses the climate crisis. Written in three movements, unEarth is realized with spatial staging and scenic design projected on a large circular screen. The first movement, Flood, is a sonic and textual reference to the ancient flood story. The second movement, Forest, gathers the word for “tree” from a wide range of languages spoken around the world and interlocks them into a rhythmic web, representing the interdependence within the forest ecosystem. This is followed by the eerily prescient words of Emily Dickinson’s Who Robbed the Woods. The third movement, Fix It, takes its language from the science of climate change, words of protest, and thoughts gathered from conversations on climate change with the Young People’s Chorus of New York (ages 8–18.) In the composer’s words, unEarth “digs deep into the stories and science of our planet — looking at forced migrations, adaptations, species land loss, and changing seas … singing our fears and hoping for a way forward.”
Pretty for the Berlin Philharmonic and the Houston Symphony is a raucous and raw, driving and rhythmic 20-min work for full orchestra. The work boldly combines a vernacular American sound with noise, power, delicacy, and aggression, and asks the question – what is pretty after all?