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John Luther Adams

January 23, 1953 -
born in Meridian, MS, composed during the Contemporary period
John Luther Adams is an American composer known for writing music that is inspired by nature, particularly the landscapes and sounds of his adopted state, Alaska. Born in Meridian, MS, then raised in New York, Adams began his studies of music as a member of a rock band, and his admiration for the music of Frank Zappa led him to explore the works of Edgard Varèse, Igor Stravinsky, John Cage, and Morton Feldman. To continue his education, Adams attended the California Institute of the Arts, where he studied composition with James Tenney and Leonard Stein, graduating in 1973.

Adams' love for nature led him to work after college as an environmentalist, and he first came to Alaska in 1975, then permanently settled there in 1978. He participated in the campaign for the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act and became executive director of the Northern Alaska Environmental Center. He also pursued his musical career, working in the 1980s as a timpanist and percussionist with the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra and the Arctic Chamber Orchestra, all the while writing music in a wide variety of genres. He composed works for orchestra, chamber ensembles, voice, percussion, and electronics, and he created scores for film and television. Much of his music has been categorized as minimalist or new age, though the predominance of slow tempos and gradual changes of harmonies and sonorities shows a clear connection to ambient music.

Adams' music has been recorded by Cantaloupe, Cold Blue, Mode, New Albion, and New World. He is the author of Winter Music (2004), a collection of writings about his life and pursuits in Alaska. He has received awards and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Rasmuson Foundation, and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. He was named a United States Artists Fellow in 2006. For his efforts on behalf of the environment, Adams was given the Heinz Award, and he received Northwestern University's Nemmers Prize for his "unique artistic vision that transcends stylistic boundaries." ~ Blair Sanderson, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: The Place We Began

1. In A Room, Soundscape: In A Room

2. At The Still Point, Soundscape: At A Still Point

3. In The Rain, Soundscape: In The Rain

4. The Place We Began, Soundscape: The Place We Began

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Track List: John Luther Adams: Clouds Of Forgetting, Clouds Of Unknowing

Title: Clouds Of Forgetting, Clouds Of Unknowing For Chamber Orchestra
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Track List: John Luther Adams: Earth And The Great Weather

Title: Earth And The Great Weather: A Sonic Geography Of The Arctic

1. Earth And The Great Weather: A Sonic Geography Of The Arctic: The Place Where You Go To Listen

2. Earth And The Great Weather: A Sonic Geography Of The Arctic: Drums Of Winter

3. Earth And The Great Weather: A Sonic Geography Of The Arctic: Pointed Mountains Scattered All Around

4. Earth And The Great Weather: A Sonic Geography Of The Arctic: The Circle Of Suns And Moons

5. Earth And The Great Weather: A Sonic Geography Of The Arctic: The Circle Of Winds

6. Earth And The Great Weather: A Sonic Geography Of The Arctic: Deep And Distant Thunder

7. Earth And The Great Weather: A Sonic Geography Of The Arctic: River With No Willows

8. Earth And The Great Weather: A Sonic Geography Of The Arctic: One That Stays All Winter

9. Earth And The Great Weather: A Sonic Geography Of The Arctic: Drums Of Fire, Drums Of Stone

10. Earth And The Great Weather: A Sonic Geography Of The Arctic: Where The Waves Splash, Hitting Again And Again

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Track List: Four Thousand Holes

1. Four Thousand Holes, For Bells, Vibraphone, Piano & Electronics: Four Thousand Holes

2. ...and Bells Remembered..., For Ensemble: ...And Bells Remembered...

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Track List: John Luther Adams: Become Ocean

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Track List: Songbirdsongs

Title: Songbirdsongs, For 2 Piccolos & 3 Percussionists

1. Songbirdsongs, For 2 Piccolos & 3 Percussionists: Wood Thrush

2. Songbirdsongs, For 2 Piccolos & 3 Percussionists: Morningfieldsong

3. Songbirdsongs, For 2 Piccolos & 3 Percussionists: Meadowdance

4. Songbirdsongs, For 2 Piccolos & 3 Percussionists: August Voices

5. Songbirdsongs, For 2 Piccolos & 3 Percussionists: Mourning Dove

6. Songbirdsongs, For 2 Piccolos & 3 Percussionists: Apple Blossom Round

7. Songbirdsongs, For 2 Piccolos & 3 Percussionists: Notquitespringdawn

8. Songbirdsongs, For 2 Piccolos & 3 Percussionists: Joyful Noise

9. Songbirdsongs, For 2 Piccolos & 3 Percussionists: Evensong

Title: Strange Birds Passing, For Ensemble

10. Strange Birds Passing, For Ensemble: Strange Birds Passing

Comments

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Such interesting, textural compositions . I can clearly hear the inspiration of nature and natural rhythm and tempo in his work. Of course, I think it helped that I heard an interview of his played on Radiolab, talking about his inspirations and techniques. So very interesting. It just changed to Phillip Glass, and it is interesting how different the two compositions are, and I suppose how different the composers are. I like them both, but being so new to Adams' work, I can't not think it more in

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