John Luther Adams

From Academic Kids

John Luther Adams (born 1953) is a composer whose music embodies the landscapes of Alaska, his home since 1978.

Contents

Biography

Like many composers of his generation, John Luther Adams did not grow up immersed in serious music. Adams began playing music as a teenager, as a drummer in rock bands. Through his experience in rock bands, friends introduced him to the music of Frank Zappa. Through the liner notes of a Zappa album, he discovered Edgar Varèse. Similarly, Varèse's liner notes brought him to John Cage. But it was not until Adams discovered Morton Feldman that he found his calling.

Adams attended Cal Arts as an undergraduate in the early 1970s, where he studied with James Tenney and Leonard Stein. His group of classmates includes the composers Lois V. Vierk and Peter Garland.

After graduating from Cal Arts, Adams began work in environmental protection. This work first brought him to Alaska in 1975. His deep love for the location led to his permanent migration there in 1978. It continues to be the driving force in his music to this day.

Adams's musical work spans many genres and media. He has composed for television, film, children's theater, voice, acoustic instruments, orchestra, and electronics.

His frequent use of static textures and subtle changes show his obvious affinities with minimalism, and his tendencies toward extended, meditative, and intuitive structures belie his true love of the music of Morton Feldman.

Lou Harrison said he is "one of the few important young American composers," while Adams himself says: "My music has always been profoundly influenced by the natural world and a strong sense of place. Through sustained listening to the subtle resonances of the northern soundscape, I hope to explore the territory of 'sonic geography' - that region between place and culture...between environment and imagination."


List of Works

  • Green Corn Dance (1974) for percussion ensemble
  • Night Peace (1976) for antiphonal choirs, solo soprano, harp, and percussion
  • songbirdsongs (1974-80) for 2 piccolos and 3 percussion
  • Strange Birds Passing (1983) for flute choir
  • up into the silence (1978/84) (poem by E. E. Cummings) for voice and piano
  • How the Sun Came to the Forest (1984) (poem by John Haines) for chorus and alto flute, English horn, percussion, harp, and strings
  • The Far Country of Sleep (1988) for orchestra
  • Giving Birth to Thunder, Sleeping With His Daughter, Coyote Builds North America (1986-90) for theater
  • magic song for one who wishes to live and the dead who climb up to the sky (1990) for voice and piano
  • Dream in White On White (1992) for orchestra
  • Earth and the Great Weather (1990-93) for theater
  • Five Yup'ik Dances (1991-94) for solo harp
  • Crow and Weasel (1993-94) (story by Barry Lopez) for theater
  • Sauyatugvik: The Time of Drumming (1995) for orchestra
  • Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing (1991-95) for orchestra
  • Five Athabascan Dances (1992/96) for harp and percussion
  • Strange and Sacred Noise (1991-97) for percussion quartet
  • Make Prayers to the Raven (1996/98) flute, violin, harp, cello, and percussion
  • In the White Silence (1998) for orchestra
  • Qilyaun (1998) for four bass drums
  • Time Undisturbed (1999) for 3 shakuhachis, 3 kotos, and sho
  • In a Treeless Place, Only Snow (1999) for celesta, harp, 2 vibraphones, and string quartet
  • The Light That Fills the World (1999-2000) for orchestra
  • Among Red Mountains (2001) for solo piano
  • The Immeasurable Space of Tones (1998-2001) for violin, vibraphone, piano, sustaining keyboard, contrabass instrument
  • The Farthest Place (2001) for violin, vibraphone, marimba, piano, double bass
  • After the Light (2001) for alto flute, vibraphone, harp
  • Dark Wind (2001) for bass clarinet, vibraphone, marimba, piano
  • Red Arc / Blue Veil (2002) for piano, mallet percussion and processed sounds
  • The Mathematics of Resonant Bodies (2002) for solo percussion and processed sounds
  • Poem of the Forgotten (2004) (poem by John Haines) for voice and piano

Discography

  • songbirdsongs (1981)
  • A Northern Suite/Night Peace (1983)
  • Forest Without Leaves (1987)
  • The Far Country (1993)
  1. Dream in White on White
  2. Night Peace
  3. The Far Country of Sleep
  1. The Farthest Place
  2. The Light That Fills the World
  3. The Immeasurable Space of Tones
  • In the White Silence (2003)

External links

Listening

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