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ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble):
John Luther Adams

Sat, Feb 26, 2011

Part of the MCA Composers Stage series.

The highly distinctive and beautiful music of John Luther Adams is inspired by the Alaskan terrain that has been his home for more than three decades. Adams joins us for this special evening, which features two large-scale works that give voice to his musical language and reveal the vastness and tranquility of the northern landscape. In the White Silence (1998) is scored for solo string quartet, string orchestra, and a subgroup of colorful non-sustaining instruments (vibraphones, harp and celesta). Throughout the course of the piece, rhythm and melody compete between these two instrumental groups, fusing to form a slowly shifting soundscape. This massive work will be conducted by Steve Schick and performed by ICE along with guest musicians from Northwestern University School of Music.

The Mathematics of Resonant Bodies (2002) explores the acoustic properties of sound-producing objects-in this case, percussion instruments. The “bodies” explored in The Mathematics of Resonant Bodies are of two types: the instruments themselves, and the listeners in the room. This special late-night concert is taking place in the MCA gallery amidst the exhibition Without you I’m Nothing: Art and its Audience. It will be performed by master percussionist Steve Schick, for whom Adams originally composed the work.

Running times:
In the White Silence: 75 minutes
The Mathematics of Resonant Bodies: 69 minutes
No late seating

Listen to John Luther Adams and Steven Schick in coversation on ICEcast (the ICE blog and podcast).


Program Notes

About the Artists: ICE

MCA Stage and ICE are in the first year of an unprecedented three-year project, with ICE as the first MCA Stage ensemble-in-residence. This year features three distinct programs: the Roots & Return concert (September 11); the current portrait concert featuring John Luther Adams (February 26); and an upcoming ICE Lab concert featuring newly commissioned works by Nathan Davis, Marcos Balter, and Du Yun (June 4).

The International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), hailed for their “fired-up performances” (Alex Ross, The New Yorker), was founded in 2001 in Chicago, and over the past nine years has established itself as one of the leading musical ensembles of its generation as well as one of the most innovative young arts organizations in the US. Described by the New York Times as “one of the most adventurous and accomplished groups in new music,” ICE was winner of the 2010 Trailblazer Award from the American Music Center and the 2010 ASCAP/CMA Award for Adventurous Programming. ICE performs more than fifty concerts a year throughout the United States and abroad, has commercially released six acclaimed albums, and will give concerts this summer at the Lincoln Center Festival, the Mostly Mozart Festival, and the Darmstadt Festival in Germany. A champion of music by young composers, ICE has also given more than 400 world premieres by composers under the age of 35. Read more at www.iceorg.org.

About the Artists: John Luther Adams
John Luther Adams (b. 1953) came to music as a rock drummer. Through his experience in rock bands, he found the music of Frank Zappa, through which he discovered experimental composers like Edgard Varèse, John Cage, and Morton Feldman. After college, Adams began work in environmental protection, and settled in Alaska in 1978, where he has lived since. His music is deeply rooted in the geography and cultures of Alaska. The vast scale and contemplative spirit of his expansive, slow-moving orchestral works, like In the White Silence, convey an almost physical embodiment of the natural world. His experience as a percussionist and his study of Alaska Native drumming can be heard in the rhythmic intricacy of his music.

Adams has served as timpanist and principal percussionist with the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra and the Arctic Chamber Orchestra, and composer-in-residence with the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, Anchorage Opera and Alaska Public Radio Network. In addition to composing for film, television, theater, and opera, his works have been performed by Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Radio Netherlands Philharmonic, the California E.A.R. Unit chamber ensemble, Bang on a Can, and others. In 2006, Adams was named one of the first United States Artists Fellows. In April 2010, Adams was named the 2010 winner of the $100,000 Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition by the Northwestern University Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music. Read more at www.johnlutheradams.com.


This concert featuring John Luther Adams is made possible in part with the support of Northwestern University’s Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music.

Support for this performance is provided in part by The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Inc.