Luigi Nono, who passed away earlier this year, was an Italian innovator and visionary. In the course of a distinguished four-decade career, he used his mastery of serialism, electronics, microtonality, and the spatial configuration of sound–all major currents of serious postwar music–on an enlightening personal quest for new expressive possibilities. The result is an eclectic body of works ranging from large-scale revolutionary operas to intimate vocal miniatures using the words of Garcia Lorca. But common to all his music is the power to arouse political passion. An artist with Marxist sympathies and a strong sense of history, Nono wrote some of the most sensuously beautiful and politically fervent scores of our day. Given the state of politics and new music in this country, it’s hardly surprising that few of us have ever heard the compositions on which his controversial European reputation rests. Tonight’s program: Hay que caminar sonando (1989) for two violins, performed by Sharon Polifrone and Laurel Wells, and an excerpt from the 1962 Canti di vita e d’amore (Sul ponte di Hiroshima), sung by soprano Lisa Feuerzeig. The performances will be preceded by a discussion of Nono’s melding of aesthetic and political concerns led by area composer Frank Abbinanti, himself a firm believer in the importance of music as a political tool. Thursday, 6:30 PM, Istituto Italiano di Cultura, 500 N. Michigan; 822-9545.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Karin Rocholl.