photo: Kevin MacCormack

Norman Adams is a cellist who has evolved beyond his training and long career in classical music to reinvent his voice as an interpreter, improviser, sound artist and transdisciplinary performer. He is also an educator, mentor, podcaster, volunteer and cycling coach. Norm is founding Artistic Director of suddenlyLISTEN Music, an organization that has produced and presented concerts, residencies, outreach and tours for over 20 years. Norm is a former Principal Cellist of Symphony Nova Scotia (1991 – 2018), was guest Principal Cellist of the National Arts Centre Orchestra, and has performed chamber, new and improvised music throughout Canada, the US, Europe and the UK. His performances have also been heard across the Canada and Australia on radio.

As an educator, Norman is the cello instructor at Acadia University, and has been on the faculties of Scotia Festival of Music, String Fest at Memorial University and the Acadia Summer Strings Festival, as well as a private teacher and mentor. As an organizer, Norman has produced events since 1992, including concerts, productions, fundraisers, workshops, and tours across Canada and Europe.

Norman’s passion is new, improvised and electronic music. He has performed this music across North America and Europe, collaborating with many leading artists including Joëlle Léandre, Gerry Hemingway, Eddie Prévost, Lawrence Casserley, Pauline Oliveros, Sam Shalabi, Marilyn Crispell and Evan Parker.

Since 2000, Norman has been the Artistic Director of suddenlyLISTEN Music, an organization that presents an annual series of improvised music concerts, featuring a broad range of local, Canadian and international artists; workshops, outreach, the New Musings on New Music podcast and tours. Through sL Norm has curated well over 150 concerts, organized national and international tours, and led and facilitated workshops for people young and old.

In recent projects Norm has toured in the UK, Canada and Europe with Italian cellist Nicola Baroni, performing most significantly at La Biennale Musica in Venice, Italy. He has collaborated with Scottish composer Nick Fells in Glasgow, Scotland and Wolfville, Nova Scotia. A newish collaboration with Guelph Ontario percussionist Joe Sorbara is very exciting. 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). and has recorded major chamber works of Canadian composers Carmen Braden and Jerome Blais.

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

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, with their two sons are nearby. 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.

Please visit suddenlyLISTEN Music at