suddenlyLISTEN: Lee / Adams / Donovan

@ 8:00pm


$15 General Admission / $12 Students & WF Members

Halifax-based suddenlyLISTEN’s mission is to bring new and improvised chamber music to a wide variety of intimate settings. Pianist Lee Pui Ming, cellist Norman Adams, and percussionist Erin Donovan present collaborative improvisation and original composition in rich, spontaneous, and emotionally charged performance that draws from a broad range of influences from classical to the contemporary avant-garde.


For cellist and artistic director Norman Adams, suddenlyLISTEN’s work focuses on redefining “chamber music” as an improvisational practice. “I’m really interested in an intimacy and closeness to the music,” he says. “The idea of being up close, and the intimacy that you can feel listening to ‘music in a chamber’ – a small place where you can be close to the musicians and feel where the music’s coming from.”

“I came to improvised music not from the jazz world but from the contemporary classical music world,” says Adams. One of his influences and mentors is composer, improviser, and new media pioneer Pauline Oliveros. “A couple of years after I’d identified that improvisation was something I wanted to pursue, I did make it down to New Mexico and met Pauline Oliveros and did a retreat with her: that was really what spun my head around and I thought, this is where I belong, searching for that intimacy. I found where I belonged when I worked with Pauline – she’s come to Halifax a number of times and we’re great pals.”

The trio of Adams, pianist Lee Pui Ming and percussionist Erin Donovan is a long-standing collaboration for suddenlyLISTEN. “Lee Pui Ming was one of the first outside artists that I managed to bring to Halifax, and that first meeting was a really important one for me, one that resonated in my memory for a very long time,” says Adams. Listeners familiar with Lee Pui Ming’s volatile, energetic piano improvisations may be surprised by the introspection of the Lee / Adams Donovan trio. Adams describes the dynamic range and sonorities of the group: “It may be some of the most tonal music that I play all year long in my improvised music work, and that’s very challenging and fun. It’s kind of come back to the centre in some ways, and [Pui Ming] may not agree with me – but I think it’s swung back to the centre a bit with absolutely no change in intensity.”


One of Canada’s most searchingly experimental pianists, Lee Pui Ming’s practice has led her to new ways of transforming and integrating Chinese material into her work; creating a live performance gestalt that includes sounding all parts of the piano, engaging her body and her voice; finding fresh ways of weaving tonalities; and diving into the wide expanse of open improvisation.

Norman Adams is Principal Cellist of Symphony Nova Scotia, and the Artistic Director of suddenlyLISTEN music. Norman has been a soloist with SNS, and Les Jeunes Virtuoses de Montréal and has performed chamber, and improvised music throughout the US, Canada, and in the UK. His performances have also been heard across Canada on CBC Radio One and Two. His musical career finds him performing in diverse venues, in collaboration with a broad range of performers. Amongst others, he has collaborated with Pauline Oliveros, Eddie Prevost, Jean Derome, Buck 65, Gerry Hemingway, in Festivals such as the Lincoln Center Outdoor Festival, Halifax Jazz Festival and Festival des Musiques du Creations, and as a soloist with SNS.

Percussionist and composer Erin Donovan is active in the creation, performance and presentation of new music. Erin presents concerts as director of Hear Here Productions—an organization which designs multi-media events for alternative spaces. Recent Hear Here events include Two Jack Wish (a co-production with the Banff Centre and Parks Canada) at Two Jack Lake near Banff, and The Bankhead Project—a large-scale site-specific event at Lower Bankhead, a ghost town just outside of Banff. Erin is also active in the dance community collaborating with and creating/performing music for performance artist Katherine Duncanson’s Fossil, dancer Yvonne Ng’s Brocaded Clouds (a Love Story) and Paper Women and in dancer/choreographer Peter Chin’s Tulmiskat and Converse. Most recently, Erin was privileged to create music for choreographer Yvonne Ng’s newest work “Frequency” which premieres in Toronto in March 2012. She will be in St. John’s Nfld this summer performing with her percussion quintet at the Sound Symposium. Erin lives in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia with her family.