Loops and Variations: John Luther Adams’s Inuksuit at Millennium Park | Classical preview

The celebrated new-music series closes out with a bang.
John Luther Adams
By Mia Clarke |

Millennium Park’s newest music series is a hit. From the eclectic double bill of art-rock outfit Deerhoof and contemporary music champ Dal Niente to Third Coast Percussion’s explosive live show, Loops and Variations has achieved its aim of infusing new music with indie cool.

Loops curator Angel Ysaguirre gives the ambitious new-music series a grand send-off in its sixth and final concert: a large-scale performance of Alaskan composer John Luther Adams’s percussion behemoth, Inuksuit. One hundred players from New Music Chicago and other ensembles take over Millennium Park, fanning out past the lawn, Cloud Gate, the BP Pedestrian Bridge and beyond in the first musical performance to take full advantage of this prime turf.

Chiming in at 80 minutes, Adams’s 2009 opus is an immense, luminous paean to nature (Inuksuit was unveiled in a Canadian forest) intended to be experienced outdoors, and scored for an unusual range of instruments including air horns, gongs and glockenspiels.

“I’m excited to work outside of my normal musical parameters,” says Dal Niente’s Ammie Brod, who contributes on a hand-crank siren, conch shell, triangle and some “clangy metal.” “I think this is a sign that new music is finding more of an audience in Chicago. It’s great that we have a community that’s large enough and friendly enough to do such big projects together.”