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Celebrating the Ryan Center for the Musical Arts

Programs will honor the new home of the Bienen School of Music

  • Midwest premiere of “Sila: The Breath of the World” will feature 80 Bienen musicians
  • “Sila” composer John Luther Adams is winner of 2010 Nemmers and 2014 Pulitzer prizes
  • Unique performances will take place on south lawn of new music building Sept. 25 and 26
  • Ryan Center dedication ceremony to be streamed live Sept. 24 at 4 p.m. CDT

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The Midwest premiere of “Sila: The Breath of the World,” a work by John Luther Adams that was written to be performed outdoors, will kick off a yearlong series of public events to celebrate the Northwestern University Bienen School of Music’s new Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Center for the Musical Arts.

The architecturally striking building, designed by Chicago-based Goettsch Partners and located on the shore of Lake Michigan on Northwestern’s Evanston campus, includes performance and rehearsal spaces, teaching studios, classrooms, practice rooms and faculty and staff offices.

The Ryan Center for the Musical Arts will be formally dedicated Sept. 24. Please note that this is a by-invitation-only event that is not open to the public. The dedication ceremony will be streamed live Sept. 24 at 4 p.m. CDT.

RELATED: Learn more about the new Ryan Center for the Musical Arts

Adams’ “Sila: The Breath of the World” will be performed by 80 musicians from the Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble, Contemporary Music Ensemble and Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra at 5 p.m.  Friday, Sept. 25, and 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26, on the south lawn of the Ryan Center for the Musical Arts, 70 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston campus.

The hourlong work, performed without a conductor, premiered at New York’s Lincoln Center last summer and is designed to gradually dissolve into the larger sonic landscape of its location. Each of the 80 musicians is a soloist with an individual “map” indicating the exact pitch and the approximate time to play. A smartphone application, developed specifically for this piece, generates the pitches and includes a stopwatch.

Winner of the 2010 Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition from Northwestern University and the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Music, John Luther Adams is joining students for the first week of classes to prepare the piece.

Donald Nally, professor and director of choral organizations at the Bienen School, is music director of the project, and percussionist Doug Perkins of eighth blackbird, a multiple Grammy Award-winning contemporary music sextet based in Chicago, will serve as artistic director.

Of “Sila,” the composer writes: "In Inuit tradition, the spirit that animates all things is sila, the breath of the world. Sila is the wind and weather, the forces of nature.”

“The work is essentially a slowly evolving, rising, transparent cloud of sound generated by the breath of each performer,” explained Nally. “Audience members experience the work surrounded by the musicians -- they may sit, stand or wander -- creating their own evolving environment for the work, which is a beautiful meditation on the natural world and our place in it. It’s a different way of thinking about music, and I thought this was the perfect piece to consecrate the new music building.”

OPENING YEAR CELEBRATION EVENTS

The following special events commemorating the opening of Northwestern University’s new Ryan Center for the Musical Arts are free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted.

Dedication ceremony for the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Center for the Musical Arts, is a by-invitation-only event this is not open to the public. However, the ceremony will be viewable via live stream at 4 p.m. CDT, Thursday, Sept. 24.

• Midwest premiere of John Luther Adams’ “Sila: The Breath of the World,” 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25, and 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26. Both performances will take place on the south lawn of the Ryan Center for the Musical Arts (rain location: Ryan Center for the Musical Arts atrium, 70 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston campus). Admission is free.

Institute for New Music: NUNC! 2: Northwestern University New Music Conference 22 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6; 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7; and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8. Led by Bienen School Institute for New Music director Hans Thomalla, the three-day conference will take place at various Evanston campus locations. Participation in NUNC! 2 is free. For more information, visit music.northwestern.edu/newmusic.

Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra, University Chorale, Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble, and Anima Singers, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6, at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston campus. The performance, conducted by Donald Nally, will feature music by two Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition recipients: John Adams (2010) and Kaija Saariaho (2008). Tickets are $12 for the general public and $6 for students with valid IDs.

Contemporary Music Ensemble, 8 p.m. Saturday Nov. 7, Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall, 70 Arts Circle Drive. Ben Bolter and Alan Pierson will conduct a program of music by composers Ann Cleare, Ted Hearne and Donnacha Dennehy. Tickets are $8 for the general public and $5 for students with valid IDs.

Stephen Hough, Skyline Piano Artist Series, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3, Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall. The program features music of Franck, Hough, Liszt and Schubert. Tickets are $30 for the general public and $10 for students with valid IDs. Skyline Piano Artist Series subscriptions on sale now. Single tickets go on sale Oct. 20.

Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble: “Sound in Architecture,” 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 10, Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall. Two iconic works by Guillaume Dufay and Morton Feldman written for the openings of buildings will be featured. Tickets are $8 for the general public and $5 for students with valid IDs.

Garrick Ohlsson, Skyline Piano Artist Series, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 29, Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall. Music of Granados and Mussorgsky will be featured. Tickets are $30 for the general public and $10 for students with valid IDs. Series subscriptions on sale now. Single tickets on sale Oct. 20.

Symphonic Wind Ensemble, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5, Pick-Staiger Concert Hall. Conducted by Mallory Thompson, the program will feature the premiere of a Bienen School commissioned work by Joel Puckett. Tickets are $8 for the general public and $5 for students with valid IDs.

Saxophonist Branford Marsalis, clarinetist Victor Goines, and the Northwestern University Jazz Orchestra, 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 1, Pick-Staiger Concert Hall. The performance will feature Goines’ “Crescent City” and “Benny: Then, Now, Forever.” Tickets are $30 for the general public and $10 for students with valid IDs.

Conversation with Branford Marsalis and Victor Goines, April 2 (time to be announced), Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall. Admission is free.

Sounding Spaces: A Workshop on Music, Urban Space, Landscape and Architecture, (time to be announced) Thursday, April 7 and Friday, April 8, Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall and the David and Carol McClintock Choral and Recital Room, 70 Arts Circle Drive. The workshop will feature Bienen School musicology professors Inna Naroditskaya, Drew Davies and Ryan Dohoney, at various Evanston campus locations. Admission is free.

Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble/Contemporary Music Ensemble, 4 p.m. Sunday, April 17, Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall. A Bienen School commissioned work by David Lang will be conducted by Donald Nally and Alan Pierson. Tickets are $8 for the general public and $5 for students with valid IDs.

Performance of Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony with Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra, University Chorale and Bienen/Contemporary Early Vocal Ensemble, 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 27 at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Evanston campus, and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, May 29 at Millennium Park, Jay Pritzker Pavilion, 201 E. Randolph St., in downtown Chicago. Admission is free.

Horn Festival, Friday-Sunday, June 10-12 at various Northwestern campus locations. This weekend event will feature performances by student ensembles, master classes and lectures as well as guest artists. Admission to be determined.

For more information, visit events.music.northwestern.edu or call the Bienen School of Music Concert Management Office at 847-491-5441. To purchase tickets, call the Bienen School of Music Ticket Office at 847-467-4000 or visit events.music.northwestern.edu.

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