John Luther Adams
John Luther Adams (born January 23, 1953 in Meridian, Mississippi) is a composer whose music embodies the landscapes of Alaska, his home since 1978.
Like many composers of his generation, John Luther Adams did not grow up immersed in scored 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 Edgard 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 shō
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
for Lou Harrison (2004, premiere 2005) for string quartet, string orchestra, and 2 pianos
A Northern Suite/Night Peace (1983)
Forest Without Leaves (1987)
The Far Country (1993)
Dream in White on White
The Far Country of Sleep
Earth and the Great Weather (1995)
Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing (1997) - nominated for the 1999 Grammy awards in the Best Classical Contemporary Composition and Best Orchestral Performance categories
Dark Wind (2002)
The Light That Fills the World (2002)
The Farthest Place
The Light That Fills the World
The Immeasurable Space of Tones
In the White Silence (2003)
Strange and Sacred Noise (2005)
The Mathematics of Resonant Bodies (2006)