John Luther Adams: Inuksuit

Music in nature and recycled instruments for a better world: an open-air percussion performance in Planten un Blomen.

36 musicians with some 300 instruments: for the performance of John Luther Adams’ »Inuksuit« on 15 May 2022, Hamburg's Planten un Blomen park turns into a huge open-air theatre.

The New York Times calls the one-hour open-air work »the ultimate environmental piece«; it invites us to sharpen our senses to the sounds of our natural surroundings. That makes »Inuksuit« perfect for inclusion in the programme of the International Music Festival, whose motto in 2022 is »Nature«.

Art and climate :Instruments made of garbage

Nature today involves responsiblility – responsiblility for our environment. In response to this, the musicians performing this extraordinary percussion work came up with an unusual idea, and made a few of the percussion instruments they needed from things that other people had thrown away…

Recycled instruments for »Inuksuit«

Looking for canisters and the like

A good month before the concert, several of the participants joined in a public clean-up initiated by the Hamburg organisation Oclean and spent an evening collecting refuse in the streets around Neuer Pferdemarkt. Their aim was upcycling – a number of the objects people had thrown away, such as canisters, gutters and metal pipes, were perfectly suited for use as percussion instruments.

An instrument workshop with a difference

They then took the treasures they had found to Wildplastic – a Hamburg company that turns »wild plastic« into plastic granulate, from which new plastic is then produced, e.g. for refuse bags, bin liners or padded envelopes. What does that have to do with instruments? It's simple: you just fill a canister with some of the fine granulate, and you've got an ocean drum…


»Recycled instruments? What a great idea!«

John Luther Adams

Clean Up am 13.4.2022 Clean Up am 13.4.2022 © Julika von Werder
Clean Up am 13.4.2022 Clean Up am 13.4.2022 © Julika von Werder
Clean Up am 13.4.2022 Clean Up am 13.4.2022 © Julika von Werder
Wildplastic Wildplastic © Sophie Wolter
None © Sophie Wolter
None © Sophie Wolter
Granulat von Wildplastic Granulat von Wildplastic © Sophie Wolter

Art in nature :About the work »Inuksuit«

»Inuksuit« are anthropomorphic stone formations that the Inuit people have been setting up for centuries as signposts in the bleak Arctic landscape. They have inspired John Luther Adams, partly as a symbol of what remains of humanity, to create impressive musical art in the midst of nature. The composer and environmental activist spent nearly 40 years living in the north of Alaska. Space, silence and the powers of nature play a strong role in his art, as does his belief that music can improve the world.

For his one-hour work »Inuksuit« the musicians spread out across the park, so that the audience can »stroll through« the music, so to speak. The composer explains: »I follow the music wherever it takes me. That's how I compose, and that's exactly how I want listeners to hear my music«. He offers people the chance to »create their own personal ›Inuksuit‹ mix«.

A first visit to Planten und Blomen

None © Sophie Wolter
Inuksuit Inuksuit © Sophie Wolter
None © Sophie Wolter
None © Sophie Wolter
None © Sophie Wolter

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