In Our Time is an ongoing series of wide-ranging conversations with artists whose creative lives and work have left an indelible mark in music, the arts, and culture globally. In Our Time was conceived by the longtime President of Nonesuch Records, Robert Hurwitz whose unique history with each of the artists adds perspective and insight.
Laurie Anderson is one of America's most renowned—and daring—creative pioneers. Her work, which encompasses music, visual art, poetry, film, and photography, has challenged and delighted audiences around the world for more than thirty years. Anderson is best known for her multimedia presentations and musical recordings. Her tours have taken her around the world, where she has presented her work in small arts spaces and grand concert halls, and everywhere in between. She has numerous major works to her credit, along with countless collaborations with an array of artists, from Jonathan Demme and Brian Eno to Bill T. Jones and Peter Gabriel.
Anderson's first single, "O Superman," launched her recording career in 1980, rising to number two on the British pop charts and subsequently appearing on her landmark release Big Science. She went on to record six more albums with Warner Brothers. In 2001, Anderson released her first album with Nonesuch Records, the critically lauded Life on a String. Her subsequent releases on the label include Live in New York (2002), a reissue of Big Science (2007), Homeland (2010), Heart of a Dog (2015), and her Grammy-winning collaboration with Kronos Quartet, Landfall (2018).
Robert Hurwitz served as President of Nonesuch for thirty-two years, beginning in September 1984. When he took over Nonesuch, it was a classical label and the home of the legendary Explorer series. After he became the head of the label, he redefined its role in contemporary classical music and modern composition, expanded its mission in world music, and began recording and releasing artists from a wide range of musical genres, including jazz, music theater, folk, bluegrass, and rock.
Among the artists he has signed or worked with are composers including John Adams, Laurie Anderson, Timo Andres, Louis Andriessen, Donnacha Dennehy, Henryk Gorecki, Philip Glass, Adam Guettel, Nico Muhly, Astor Piazzolla, Steve Reich, Frederic Rzewki, Stephen Sondheim, and John Zorn as well as performers and songwriters including Björk, Devendra Banhart, David Byrne, Jeremy Denk, Bill Frisell, Gipsy Kings, Richard Goode, Tigran Hamasyan, Kronos Quartet, Gidon Kremer, k.d. lang, Lake Street Dive, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Audra McDonald, Natalie Merchant, Stephin Merritt (and the Magnetic Fields), Brad Mehldau, Pat Metheny, Mandy Patinkin, Punch Brothers, Randy Newman, Joshua Redman, Chris Thile, Dawn Upshaw, Caetano Veloso, and the World Saxophone Quartet.
The Boston Globe said, “Under Robert Hurwitz, Nonesuch Records has been an oasis of artistic excitement. When one picks up a Nonesuch CD, there is a sense of occasion, the feeling that the artists in question have been assembled not as an exercise in star power, but as an exercise in artistic exploration.” And the New York Times Magazine said, “In a business now largely run by accountants and M.B.A.’s, Hurwitz is, in the words of Stephen Sondheim, ‘one of the few left who practice the making of records as a craft.’”
Hurwitz has remained closely involved with Nonesuch’s creative activities as an Executive Producer on a dozen projects a year; he is also the Chairman Emeritus of the company. He has taught at the New School for more than a decade, and has been teaching at UCLA for the past few years as well.