j o e s o r b a r a [ d o t ] c o m  .   p r o j e c t s   .   n o r m   a d a m s   &   j o e   s o r b a r a

norm adams . tabletop cello
joe sorbara . table percussion

norm adams . tabletop cello       joe sorbara . drums, percussion

Cellist Norm Adams and percussionist Joe Sorbara are organisers and performers working in Canadian creative experimental music. Having known one another for decades, they finally came together to make some music in September 2022. Since, Norm and Joe have developed a unique “tabletop” cello and percussion duo that brings their far-reaching creative minds into focus on a particular and peculiar sound world of rhythm, pitch, texture, sonority, and heart combined with a projected birds-eye-view of their performance that offers audiences a compelling perspective of dancing hands at work in the music.


Adams and Sorbara first came together as a duo in the fall of 2022. As organisers in Canadian creative experimental music scenes and performing musicians with myriad shared collaborators, they had know one another for decades. Now it was time to really meet, time to convene in the music.

Norm travelled from Halifax, Joe from Toronto, and the two met in Guelph, Ontario. They played and talked for three days straight and, despite finding a real connection, failed to find the sound of their collaboration. There were too many possibilities.

Sure that they were on to something, they met again in Halifax the following spring and retreated to the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts for another three days of exploration. Individually, they had both come to an understanding that this project was calling for an adjustment: something foundational needed to shift in order to contain and define the work they would do together as a duo. Upon landing at the Halifax airport, Joe asked Norm to cancel plans to rent a drum kit because a suitcase full of… stuff was going to be spread out on a tabletop instead. Norm laughed, shook his head, and described the new tabletop cello setup he had been working on. The uncanniness of the Adams/ Sorbara collaboration had been unveiled.

The time spent at Ross Creek was the impetus for tremendous growth and development for Norm and Joe, both individually and as a duo. They found a sound world to focus on that was engaging enough so that the wider sonic universe could be tuned out. And -- with the help of visual artist, Monica Lacey, also in residence at the time -- they discovered that the birds-eye-view from above their tables offered a compelling visual element to their work when projected onto the wall behind them.

Norm and Joe were able to play some small shows in Guelph and Hamilton in February 2024 in advance of a short tour together a few months later in April to share their music with audiences in Belfast (Northern Ireland), Berlin (Germany), and Groningen (The Netherlands).

The development continues with each meeting as a new chapter; a conscious, contingent, open exploration of “what comes next? and what does it sound like?”.

Joe Sorbara & Norm Adams at the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts, 2023    Joe Sorbara & Norm Adams at the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts, 2023

Joe Sorbara & Norm Adams at the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts, 2023    Joe Sorbara & Norm Adams at the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts, 2023

Norm Adams & Joe Sorbara @ the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts, April 2023.
photos by Monica Lacey.

[click to download larger versions]

Norm Adams . bio

Norman Adams is a cellist who has evolved beyond his training and long career in classical music to reinvent his voice as an interpreter, improviser, sound artist and transdisciplinary performer. He is also an educator, mentor, podcaster, volunteer and cycling coach. Norm is founding Artistic Director of suddenlyLISTEN Music, an organization that has produced and presented concerts, residencies, outreach and tours for over 20 years. Norm is a former Principal Cellist of Symphony Nova Scotia (1991 - 2018), was guest Principal Cellist of the National Arts Centre Orchestra, and has performed chamber, new and improvised music throughout Canada, the US, Europe and the UK.

Norman’s passion is creating, performing and presenting new, improvised and electronic music. Through this work he has had opportunities to collaborate with many leading artists including Joëlle Léandre, Gerry Hemingway, Eddie Prévost, Lawrence Casserley, Pauline Oliveros, Sam Shalabi and Marilyn Crispell.

Norm currently performs and tours with Strata (with Brandon Auger), Chimera (with Francois Houle and Tim Crofts), Collateral (with Sam Shalabi and Tim Crofts), ACE (with Derek Charke), a new duo with Joe Sorbara, and Stay Tuned (with Andrew Reed Miller). He is also frequently heard on stage (and in the podcast New Musings on New Music) with pianist Barbara Pritchard.


Joe Sorbara . bio

Canadian drummer and percussionist Joe Sorbara (they/ them) has spent decades developing a reputation as a dedicated and imaginative performer, composer, improviser, collaborator, organiser, listener, writer, and educator. A consummate sonic adventurer, Sorbara’s music draws on a vast array of influences, most notably the African American Creative Music tradition.

Current projects include duos with east coast cellist Norm Adams, west coast clarinetist François Houle, and with fellow Ontarians Steve Sladkowski and Jonathan Kay in addition to the modular nonet Never Was with Brandon Davis, Madeleine Ertel, Kelvin Mansaray, Naomi McCarroll-Butler, Racha Moukalled, Kae Murphy, Patrick O'Reilly, and Adrian Russouw; a new sextet featuring Ted Crosby, Tania Gill, Rebecca Hennessy, Michael Herring, and Aline Homzy; the Imaginary Percussion Ensemble with Germaine Liu and Mark Zurawinski; and shows supporting singer-songwriter Bry Webb. Sorbara has also performed or recorded with Ken Aldcroft, Anthony Braxton, Jared Burrows, JP Carter, Nikita Carter, Christine Duncan, Paul Dutton, Joe McPhee, Hafez Modirzadeh, Evan Parker, William Parker, Nicole Rampersaud, Allen Ravenstine, Clyde Reed, and Friendly Rich, among many many others.

Joe is a long-time student of master drummer Jim Blackley and has worked extensively as a sessional instructor, workshop facilitator, and guest lecturer. They hold an Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music from York University in Toronto, a Master’s degree in English from the University of Guelph, and they are currently studying toward a PhD in Critical Improvisation Studies.

h o m e

[ i ] bio

[ ii ] events

[ iii ] projects

never was  

françois houle & joe sorbara

the rest
(jonathan kay & joe sorbara)

norm adams & joe sorbara  

alien radio
(houle/ meger/ sorbara)

the imperative  


imaginary percussion ensemble  

reliable parts  

paul dutton & joe sorbara  


mars people  

my misshapen ear  

other foot first  

remnants trio  

squash recipe  

[ iv ] discography

[ v ] gallery

[ vi ] contact

o w m [ d o t ] o r g