NIEF-NORF at Big Ears Festival

We are thrilled and honored to be presenting three concerts at Big Ears Festival this year in Knoxville, TN, as well as organizing a very special performance of John Luther Adams' Inuksuit at the Ijams Nature Center, co-directed by Steven Schick and Nief-Norf Artistic Director Andrew Bliss!

We will be performing:

Our concerts will feature works by Judd Greenstein, Edgard Varèse, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Steve Reich, Julia Wolfe, Alvin Lucier, Elliot Cole, Morton Feldman, and Big Ears 2016 Composer-in-Residence John Luther Adams.

For information regarding tickets and weekend passes, please visit the following link:

Thanks to the generous support of Moxley Carmichael, the Big Ears grand finale performance of John Luther Adams' Inuksuit will be free and open to the public.

Be sure to check out the Big Ears 2016 Artist Mixtape, featuring Andy Bliss performing Nick Zammuto's Green Yellow Green Red, recorded by Evan Chapman of Four/Ten Media. The mixtape is free to download, but any tips received will benefit the Little Ears community outreach program.

Knoxville’s contemporary music organization Nief-Norf is thrilled to organize a performance of John Luther Adams’ epic, outdoor work Inuksuit (for 9-99 percussionists). Beginning at noon, Sunday, April 3 at the Ijams Nature Center, Inuksuit will offer a resounding addition to the 2016 Big Ears Festival. 

Composer-in-residence John Luther Adams’ Inuksuit is a massive, concert-length work, designed to be performed and experienced in the open air beyond the walls of a concert hall. Inspired by the Inuit stone structures of the same name, Inuksuit evokes a sense of place by calling upon the performers to shape the music around the physical space of its outdoor location, in effect creating a literal sonic landscape. The musicians will begin together at a central point at Knoxville's Ijams Nature Center before dispersing throughout the environment far and wide, at times separated by such distances that only faint echoes of sound may be heard by one another. As such, the piece is not meant to be passively witnessed from a fixed perspective; listeners shape their own musical experience by moving around the area, free to explore the bevy of timbres interacting with their own body and their surroundings. By walking through the environment, listeners often discover private musical moments that are irreducibly singular to each listener’s wandering path.

Inuksuit represents an integral step in the increasingly vast and expansive musical experiences Adams has crafted over many years. While the composer's preceding work was often inspired by or evocative of a pre-existing place or ecology, Inuksuit exists as its own musical ecosystem, each performance unique to each location in which it is performed. Its outdoor realization isn’t a novelty as much as it is a necessity, with its scope exceeding the capacity of an enclosed space in every way. The diverse array of percussion instruments, colorful timbres, and dense layers of rhythmic complexity interweave together, amassing dynamic extremes that range from the powerful and visceral to the subtle and microscopic. The resulting texture of Inuksuit continually evolves, facilitated by the distant performers listening and reacting not only to each other, but also responding to the landscape. In moments of stillness, the environment itself emerges from the aural texture as a gentle reminder that there is always more to be heard if we just listen with big ears.


Unsilent Night: Knoxville

Friday, December 4, 2015
9:00pm - 10:30pm
Knoxville Sunsphere (map)

We invite you to join us for Boombox Christmas Caroling 
with Phil Kline’s Unsilent Night!

Listen to WUOT's radio interview with Andrew Bliss about Unsilent Night Knoxville.

Phil Kline's Unsilent Night is a free outdoor participatory sound sculpture of many individual parts, recorded on cassettes, CDs, and mp3s, and played through a roving swarm of boomboxes carried through city streets every December. People bring their own boomboxes and drift peacefully through a cloud of sound which is different from every listener's perspective. Since 1992, this 45-minute work has grown into a worldwide annual communal event that has become an essential part of many winter holiday celebrations.

With your help, we will create this roving sound installation, where boomboxes replace voices in a holiday caroling event like no other! You bring a boombox, cassette tape player, iPod/iPhone/iPad with speakers, or any other media playing device you wish, and nief-norf will supply a CD, cassette tape, or digital download of one of the four parts of the piece. We all press play together, and walk through the streets of downtown Knoxville, creating a cacophony of bells, voices, and reverberant joy that will make heads turn on every corner.

Here's a short video from Unsilent Night in Knoxville in 2013: