photo: Kathy McCulloch
photo: Kathy McCulloch

Norman Adams is the Artistic Director of suddenlyLISTEN Music and an organizer, collaborator and arty adventurer! A student of Hans Jørgen Jensen, Bernard Greenhouse, and American new music pioneer Pauline Oliveros, Norman was Principal Cellist of Symphony Nova Scotia in Halifax, Canada from 1991 to 2017. Norman has been a soloist with SNS, and Les Jeunes Virtuoses de Montréal, and has been guest principal cellist of the National Arts Centre Orchestra. His performances have also been heard across the country on CBC Radio and on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. As an educator, Norman has been a faculty member at Acadia University, at Scotia Festival of Music, the Acadia Summer Strings Festival and has led creative workshops at String Fest at Memorial University of Newfoundland; at Laurier University; for the Nova Scotia Registered Music Teachers Association, and in schools and universities across Canada.

Most recently Norm has become a podcaster, hosting New Musings on New Music with Barbara Pritchard, speaking with Canadian composers and new music makers.

Norman is well known as both a classical cellist specializing in contemporary music, and an improviser and electronic musician, playing free and creative music across North America and Europe, and at festivals from New York City to Prince George BC to Venice, Italy. Norman has collaborated with many leading artists including Joëlle Léandre, Gerry Hemingway, Eddie Prévost, Pauline Oliveros, Xavier Charles, Marilyn Crispell and Evan Parker. In recent years Norm has released several recordings of creative music: Arrythmia featuring hermitofthewoods on Endemik, Collateral with Tim Crofts and Sam Shalabi, on Bug Incision; The Avens (with Allison Cameron and D’Arcy Gray) have released In Memoriam Robert Ashley/Improv #2 on Cabin Floor Esoterica;  +/- Music, his first solo recording (2021. On Bandcamp) and in 2022, Constellations (with Chimera: Francois Houle and Tim Crofts).

Since 2000 Norman has been the Artistic Director and Producer of Halifax‘s suddenlyLISTEN Music, an internationally recognized presenter of improvised music, and other performance projects featuring a broad range of local, Canadian and international artists. He is also dedicated to sharing music with all people, co-leading and curating suddenlyLISTEN’s improvisation workshops for the past 15 seasons.

In 2010 Norman was awarded an Established Artist Award by the Nova Scotia Arts and Culture Partnership Council, for his varied work.

Norman is dedicated to the arts community, and serves on the executive of the national board of The Canadian New Music Network. He is a former board member of Symphony Nova Scotia, Strategic Arts Management and The Lieutenant Governor’s Masterworks Award and has served on juries for The Canada Council for the Arts and various Nova Scotian arts funding bodies and organizations. Norm has presented at several national new music conferences including the 2014 CNMN Forum in Calgary and the 2017 IICSI Conference in Regina. He has also served as judge at The Shean Strings Competition in Edmonton and the Nova Scotia Provincial Music Festival.

Norman makes his home in Halifax with SNS principal violist Susan Sayle, and their two sons. Sue and Norm spend their summers living and working at the Charlottetown Festival on Prince Edward Island. Norm’s passion for music is equaled by his love for riding and racing bicycles, and if he’s not playing the cello, or organizing a concert, he’s probably out cycling on the roads and trails of Nova Scotia or the Island.

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