Fairbanks composer John Luther Adams collects Heinz Award

FAIRBANKS - Teresa Heinz and the Heinz Family Foundation celebrated the winners — including Fairbanks composer John Luther Adams — of the 17th annual Heinz Awards with a program and reception Tuesday night at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. The event honored the contributions of 10 individuals whose significant achievements have benefitted the environment. Each recipient received an unrestricted cash prize of $100,000.

Adams moved to Alaska in 1978 to work as an environmental activist. In 1989 he left his job at the Northern Alaska Environmental Center to work as a composer full-time. Adams’ work often reflects environmental and spiritual elements of the Alaska Wilderness. One of his most recent compositions, “Inuksuit,” a massive percussion piece meant to be experienced outdoors, received national recognition and was performed in Harlem’s Morningside Park and the Armory in New York City. In September, a film of his work, “Strange and Sacred Noise,” premiered in Fairbanks.

Other winners include documentary filmmakers, authorities on toxic chemicals, an ice core guru, ocean scientists and an innovation consultant who borrows ideas from nature.

The awards program annually recognizes individuals creating workable solutions to problems the world faces while inspiring the next generation of modern thinkers.

 The belief in the power of the individual to improve the lives of others is a quality exemplified by John Heinz, and an attribute the awards program was created to honor.