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John Luther Adams visits SMTD as speaker and mentor


Acclaimed by The New Yorker as, "one of the most original musical thinkers of the century," composer John Luther Adams will be in residence at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD) October 12-16, 2015.

The residency will include an evening of performance and conversation at the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA)(Oct. 12 at 7pm); a public lecture as part of the Penny Stamps Speaker Series at the Michigan Theater (Oct. 15 at 5:10 pm); and a concert in Hill Auditorium (Oct. 15 at 8 pm) by the University Symphony Orchestra (USO) featuring Adams' Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award-winning composition Become Ocean.

All events are free and no tickets are required.  

"We are pleased to invite composer John Luther Adams to the University of Michigan to collaborate with our outstanding performance ensembles, mentor our talented student composers, and speak of his unique vision of music and the environment," said Michael Daugherty, SMTD professor of composition.

The two speaking events are co-presented by SMTD and U-M's Stamps School of Art & Design. At the UMMA talk, Adams will join musicologist and SMTD Professor Mark Clague, the U-M Flute Ensemble, Contemporary Directions Ensemble, and Chamber Choir in an evening of performance and conversation about art and the environment. The concert is presented in conjunction with the UMMA exhibition of Jem Cohen: Life Drawing, which shares an affinity for place and an interest in the connections between art and nature.

The Penny Stamps Speaker Series talk, titled "John Luther Adams: Music and the Anthropocene," features the composer discussing his work and creative process. The Speaker Series is known for brining respected innovators from a broad spectrum of fields to the School to conduct a public lecture and engage with students, faculty, and the larger University and Ann Arbor communities.

For the USO concert, Adams will attend rehearsals to help the students prepare for the Midwest premiere of Become Ocean, which won the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Classical Contemporary Composition. The New Yorker described the work as "the loveliest apocalypse in musical history."

Recognized as an undulating, contemplative piece for three orchestras, the work has become a phenomenon among audiences and orchestras. The title comes from John Cage's homage to the music of composer Lou Harrison: "Listening to it we become ocean." It also refers to the environment as Adams notes in the score: "Life on this earth first emerged from the sea. As the polar ice melts and sea level rises, we humans find ourselves facing the prospect that once again we may quite literally become ocean."

Later in October, the University Choir will also perform works by Adams, featuring four movements from his monumental, Canticles of the Holy Wind.

Co-directed by Michael Daugherty and Roshanne Etezady the John Luther Adams Residency is sponsored by the School of Music, Theatre & Dance; the William Bolcom Residency in Composition; the University of Michigan Museum of Art; the U-M Institute for the Humanities; the Penny Stamps Speaker Series; and the Dow Sustainability Fellows Program.

Full listing of events of the John Luther Adams Guest Residency

Monday, October 12


"Strange and Sacred Noise"
University of Michigan Museum of Art
7:00 PM
Free - no tickets required

Thursday, October 15
Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series: John Luther Adams              
Michigan Theater
5:00 PM
Free - no tickets required

Thursday, October 15
University Symphony Orchestra             
Hill Auditorium
8:00 PM
Pre-concert lecture at 7:15 PM in the Lower Lobby.
PROGRAM: Mendelssohn- Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage; Bruch- Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Danielle Belen, violin; Adams- Become Ocean (Midwest premiere)
Free - no tickets required


Friday, October 23

Chamber Choir

“Sounds and Soundscapes”


Stamps Auditorium

8:00 PM

PROGRAM: Adams- Canticles of the Holy Wind; Heredia- Virginia (2015 Brehm Prize-winning composition); Rheinberger- Romantic Mass in E-flat Major; Kaprálová- Vězdička


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September 2017
March 2014

U-M UpstART Festival Begins 03/31/2014

Students Present "Wall-to-Wall Theatre Festival" 03/27/2014

First-Ever SMTD Chamber Music Competition Launches April 5 03/27/2014

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Elizabeth Batiuk (ethnomusicology) has been chosen as a fellow at the Sweetland/Rackham Dissertation Writing Institute for spring 2014 and James McNally (ethnomusicology) received a summer and academic year FLAS for the study of Portuguese.    03/17/2014

Musicology graduate student Elizabeth McLain has been awarded a prestigious Lurcy Fellowship for research in France during the 2014-2015 academic year.   03/14/2014

December 2013

SMTD students Zoe Kumagai, Stephanie Aboukasm, and Adam DesJardins are among students profiled in an LSA article about the "Michigan in Washington" program, in which students intern at various Washington, DC organizations and businesses, including the National Symphony Orchestra, the Kennedy Center, and the Washington Performing Arts Society.    12/10/2013

October 2013
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Evan Zegiel, a sophomore who studies with Fritz Kaenzig, was the First Place winner in the Tuba Student division of the 2013 Leonard Falcone International Euphonium & Tuba Festival.     08/21/2013

July 2013

Professor Ashley Lucas and three Theatre & Drama students are engaged in an intensive exchange program with UniRio in Rio de Janiero, Brazil this summer, where they are blogging about their experiences in UniRio's prison arts program and more.   07/12/2013

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Photography Credits:

U-M Photo Services

Joe Welsh

Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

Tom Bower