Adams wrote of the work:
When I was asked by Esa-Pekka Salonen, the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s music director, to compose a special piece for the opening, I immediately began searching my mind for an image, either verbal or pictorial, that could summon up the feelings of being an emigrant to the Pacific Coast—as I am, and as are so many who’ve made the journey here, both physically and spiritually.
I wanted to express the moment, the so-called “shock of recognition”, when one reaches the edge of the continental land mass. . . .
The Dharma at Big Sur is in two parts, each dedicated to a West Coast composer who had been both a friend and an inspiration to me, Lou Harrison and Terry Riley. The first part, “A New Day”, is a long rhapsodic reverie for the solo violin, an “endless melody” that soars above the stillness of an orchestral drone with its quietly pulsating gongs and harps and distant brass chords. . . .
After a delicately cacaphonous shower of tintinnabulations from the harps, piano, samplers and tuned cowbells, the tempo takes on a defined pulse, not unlike the jod, or medium tempo, section of a classical raga. The solo violin juggles a jazz-infused melody that gradually expands in scope and tessitura. This is “Sri Moonshine”, a tip of the hat to Terry Riley, not only the composer of In C and A Rainbow in Curved Air, but also a master of Indian raga singing. [cite]
Part 1, A New Day
Part 2, Sri Moonshine
The source for the image at the head of the post is here.