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