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Bienen School/MCA Collaborate on John Luther Adams Concerts

Feb. 22 to 26 events include talk on global warming and art, and film screening

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February 7, 2011 | 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. --- Alaska-based composer, author and passionate environmentalist John Luther Adams will discuss his music, global warming and his environmental activism when the Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University welcomes him to the Evanston campus in late February.

Adams is the 2010 winner of the Bienen School’s $100,000 Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition.

Highlighting Adams’ second Northwestern campus residency will be two Feb. 26 concerts at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA). The International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) and string students from the Bienen School will perform Adams’ “In White Silence,” conducted by Steven Schick. The second concert will feature Schick, a renowned percussionist, in a program devoted to Adams’ “The Mathematics of Resonant Bodies” for solo percussion. Both large-scale works are inspired by the Alaskan terrain that has been Adams’ home for 30 years.

On Northwestern’s Evanston campus, Adams will deliver a Feb. 22 afternoon talk on global warming and his environmental activism, hosted by the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences Environmental Policy and Culture Program. His talk will be followed that evening by a screening of a new documentary film by Leonard Kamerling about a performance of Adams work “Strange and Sacred Noise” on the Alaskan Tundra.” Both events are free.

For further details on all four John Luther Adams February 2011 events, see below.

Evanston

2 to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 22 – “Art and Global Warming,” talk by John Luther Adams with documentary filmmaker Leonard Kamerling, Wildcat Room (Room 101), Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus. Composer John Luther Adams will discuss his environmental advocacy work and climate change in Alaska and its effects on his music. Also attending will be filmmaker Leonard Kamerling, who recently released a documentary about Adams work, “Strange and Sacred Noise.” Clips of this film will be shown. The event is hosted by the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences Program in Environmental Policy and Culture. Admission is free and open to the public.

7 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 22 - Screening of Leonard Kamerling’s documentary “Strange and Sacred Noise,” McCormick Tribune Center Forum, 1870 Campus Drive. The film documents the evolution of Adams’ percussion piece of the same title. It traces the journey of Adams’ composition (a six-part percussion cycle) from its origins in the elemental sounds of nature to its performance on an Arctic summer night by five acclaimed musicians in the remote tundra of the Alaska Range that inspired its creation. A question-and-answer session with Adams and filmmaker Kamerling will follow the screening. The free event is open to the public.

Chicago

• 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 26 - John Luther Adams’ “In White Silence” concert, Museum of Contemporary Art stage, 220 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago. Adams scored ”In White Silence” (1998) for solo string quartet, string orchestra and a subgroup of colorful non-sustaining instruments, including vibraphones, harp and celesta. Conducted by Steven Schick, it will feature the MCA Stage’s ensemble-in-residence International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) and students from Northwestern’s Bienen School of Music. This MCA concert, featuring John Luther Adams, is made possible in part with the support of the Bienen School. Tickets are $28 for the general public; $22 for MCA members; and $10 for students (limited availability).

• 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 26 - Performance of John Luther Adams’ “The Mathematics of Resonant Bodies” featuring percussionist Steven Schick, Museum of Contemporary Art gallery, 220 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago. This work explores the acoustic properties of percussion instruments. The “bodies” explored in “The Mathematics of Resonant Bodies” for solo percussion are the instruments themselves and the listeners in the room. This special late-night concert will be held in the MCA gallery amid the exhibition “Without You I’m Nothing: Art and its Audience.” Master percussionist Steven Schick, for whom Adams originally composed the work, will perform. Tickets for the general public are $10; or $5 for those who have purchased “In White Silence” concert tickets.

For concert tickets, call the Museum of Contemporary Art at (312) 280-2660 or visit the MCA page for tickets are www.mcachicago.org/performances/perf_detail.php?id=706

John Luther Adams

The New Yorker called John Luther Adams “one of the most original music thinkers of the new century.” He served as timpanist and principal percussionist with the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra and the Arctic Chamber Orchestra and was composer-in-residence with the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, Anchorage Opera, and Alaska Public Radio Network.

Adams’ work covers a wide spectrum of media. Among the many prominent ensembles and presenters with whom he has worked are 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 and Opera America, among others. President of the American Music Center from 1999 to 2002, Adams was named one of the first United States Artists Fellows.

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

Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition

The biennial $100,000 Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition honors classical music composers of outstanding achievement who had a significant impact on the field of composition. Past winners include John Adams (2004), Oliver Knussen (2006) and Kaija Saariaho (2008).

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