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Bienen School Hosts John Luther Adams and Alex Ross Conversation

2010 Nemmers winner and New Yorker critic to discuss Adams’ music Oct. 28

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October 11, 2010 | by Judy Moore
Adams' music is influenced by nature, especially the landscapes of Alaska where he has resided for more than 30 years.
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Music critic Alex Ross has called American composer John Luther Adams one of the most original musical thinkers of the new century. On Oct. 28, The New Yorker magazine critic will engage Adams in an on-stage conversation at Northwestern University about the composer’s aesthetic and life’s work

Adams is the 2010 winner of the Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition given by Northwestern’s Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music.

Free of charge and open to the public, the 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28 event is part of Adams’ residency as winner of the $100,000 prize. It will be held in Lutkin Hall, 700 University Place, on the University’s Evanston campus.

Adams, who works in a tiny cabin-studio outside Fairbanks, Alaska, has composed music for more than two decades that is influenced by and rooted in Alaskan geography and culture. His music makes use of percussion ensembles, Alaska Native voices, and sound and light installations.

His site-specific composition “The Place Where We Go To Listen” created music from data streams that measure the rhythms of night and day, the phases and positions of the moon, changing sky conditions and disturbances in the Earth’s magnetic field.

Adams has worked with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, California E.A.R. Unit, Bang on a Can, and the Paul Dresher Ensemble. His honors include awards and fellowships from Meet the Composer, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, Rasmuson Foundation, Opera America, Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, the American Music Center and the Alaska State Council on the Arts. In 2006 he was named one of the first United States Artists Fellows. He also served as President of the American Music Center from 1999-2002.

His music can be heard on the Cold Blue, New World, Cantaloupe, Mode and New Albion labels. His book “Winter Music,” published by Wesleyan University Press, and other writings about music and nature have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies. He has served on the faculties of Oberlin Conservatory, Bennington College and University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

Ross, music critic of The New Yorker since 1996, is the author of The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century,” a national bestseller that has been translated into 16 languages. A 2008 MacArthur “genius” Fellow, Ross has served as a McGaw Professor in Writing at Princeton University and received honorary doctorates from the New England Conservatory and the Manhattan School of Music. His latest book, “Listen to This,” was released last month.