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newEar Closes Season With Pulitzer Prize-Winning Composer

The contemporary chamber ensemble, newEar, brings its 21st season to a close with three pieces from the 1970s, 80s and 90s. This including songbirdsongs, written between 1974 and 1980, by Alaskan composerJohn Luther Adams. Adams recently won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Music.

In an interview with NPR, Adams says, "Part of what I've tried to do in my music, in my life's work, is to try to help us broaden and deepen our attention to the larger music of the world that we inhabit — thru listening, maybe to remember our rightful place in the greater scheme of life on this beautiful stone spinning in space."

Ingrid Stölzel, director of the International Center for Music at Park University, is a member of newEar. Stölzel says having a Pulitzer winner on the program was a happy coincidence.

"Of course, we picked John Luther Adams for our final season concert before he was announced as the most recent Pulitzer Prize winner, so that was just lucky on our part," she says. “Adams' music is inspired by nature and I personally find it profound and deeply moving."

To prepare for songbirdsongs, percussionist Mark Lowry looked to the internet and researched each individual bird call in the score.

"The songbird calls are evocative more than they are imitative,” says Lowry. “Since I’m not a birder, I wanted to know what these bird calls really sounded like to discover what it is that I am supposed to be evoking.”

But Adams' work, says Stölzel, is by no means typical of newEar. She says the chamber ensemble's repertoire has varied widely over the years.

"Contemporary classical music, new music, modern music - there are many terms for the repertoire that newEar performs," she says. "For me the most fitting definition is simply that newEar performs the music of our time."

newEar presents 'Concert 4: Distant Travels,' May 3 at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, 4501 Walnut, Kansas City, Mo. 816-235-6222.

Julie Denesha is the arts reporter for KCUR. Contact her at julie@kcur.org.
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