John Adams
Conductor

“If American music has a living epitome, it is John Adams” (The Sunday Times)

Contacts

Jane Brown +44 (0)20 3725 9129
Holly Brunskill +44 (0)20 3725 9115

Biography

Creative Chair: Los Angeles Philharmonic

 

Composer, conductor, and creative thinker - John Adams occupies a unique position in the world of music. His works stand out among contemporary classical compositions for their depth of expression, brilliance of sound, and the profoundly humanist nature of their themes. His latest work is Scheherazade.2, a dramatic symphony for violin and orchestra written for Leila Josefowicz and premiered by New York Philharmonic under Alan Gilbert.

Adams also conducts the world’s major orchestras, and highlights of the current season include Berliner Philharmoniker, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Creative Chair: Los Angeles Philharmonic

 

Composer, conductor, and creative thinker - John Adams occupies a unique position in the world of music. His works stand out among contemporary classical compositions for their depth of expression, brilliance of sound, and the profoundly humanist nature of their themes. His latest work is Scheherazade.2, a dramatic symphony for violin and orchestra written for Leila Josefowicz and premiered by New York Philharmonic under Alan Gilbert.

Adams also conducts the world’s major orchestras, and highlights of the current season include Berliner Philharmoniker, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and BBC Symphony Orchestra. Previous collaborations have included Wiener Symphoniker as well as the symphony orchestras in Houston, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Seattle, Baltimore and Madrid, among others.

In 2017 Adams celebrates his seventieth birthday with festivals of his music in Europe and the US, including special retrospectives at London’s Barbican, Cité de la Musique in Paris, and in Amsterdam, New York, Geneva, Stockholm, Los Angeles (where he holds the position of Creative Chair) and San Francisco. His new opera about the California Gold Rush, Girls of the Golden West, will premiere in November of 2017 in San Francisco.

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Contacts

Jane Brown +44 (0)20 3725 9129
Holly Brunskill +44 (0)20 3725 9115

Reviews

“John Adams’s discursive 2014 violin concerto Scheherazade.2 sounded fierce and bright, its multiple twists and turns precisely tailored to the sound and style of the violinist, Leila Josefowicz.” (Anna Picard, The Times, October 2015)

“Adams conducted the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in his own compositions, immediately enthralling the 400 pairs of unaccustomed ears with Two Fanfares for Orchestra, one of which being Short Ride in a Fast Machine. Brief but effective, the pulse unwavering – not every composer is a conductor, but Adams does know a thing or two about wielding a baton. The razor-sharp brass tore along every corner of the hall. … Adams wouldn’t be Adams had he not overwhelmed in the symphonic interludes as a master of suspense.” (Frederike Berntsen, Trouw, October 2015)

“The orchestra glows under Adams’s baton from the enigmatic arpeggios of Act 1 (“The people are the heroes”) to the brittle snap of the brindisi (drinking song) and Act II ballet and the boozy gloss of saxophone and cocktail piano in Act III.” (Anna Picard, BBC Music Magazine, May 2013)

“John Adams’s discursive 2014 violin concerto Scheherazade.2 sounded fierce and bright, its multiple twists and turns precisely tailored to the sound and style of the violinist, Leila Josefowicz.” (Anna Picard, The Times, October 2015)

“Adams conducted the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in his own compositions, immediately enthralling the 400 pairs of unaccustomed ears with Two Fanfares for Orchestra, one of which being Short Ride in a Fast Machine. Brief but effective, the pulse unwavering – not every composer is a conductor, but Adams does know a thing or two about wielding a baton. The razor-sharp brass tore along every corner of the hall. … Adams wouldn’t be Adams had he not overwhelmed in the symphonic interludes as a master of suspense.” (Frederike Berntsen, Trouw, October 2015)

“The orchestra glows under Adams’s baton from the enigmatic arpeggios of Act 1 (“The people are the heroes”) to the brittle snap of the brindisi (drinking song) and Act II ballet and the boozy gloss of saxophone and cocktail piano in Act III.” (Anna Picard, BBC Music Magazine, May 2013)

“This skeletally staged concert performance, played to a packed and rapturous hall, had the added frisson of being conducted by the composer himself, in the presence of the librettist, now an Anglican parson. Adams takes a mellow view of his own music, emphasising its instrumental colours rather than pressing on its motor force, and the BBC Symphony Orchestra obliged him with some superlative playing”. (The Telegraph, September 2012)

“Sibelius’s Sixth Symphony was on the programme Adams conducted, along with Britten’s Four Sea Interludes, from Peter Grimes - both given with biting, visceral immediacy, as if he were at once laying bare and exalting the music’s imaginative constituents.” (The Sunday Times, March 2010)

“Yet City Noir, given a brilliant European premiere by the London Symphony Orchestra under the composer’s direction, is infused with the seething energies, menace and melodrama of one particular cinematic genre - the film noir. The restlessness, the sardonic relish of urban angst familiar from the hard-bitten tales of Hammett and Chandler seeps through it like a dark stain. But that is balanced by an overwhelming feeling of exhilaration at the dense, random and never-ending tangle of narratives in the modern metropolis.” (The Times, March 2010)

“Adams sets out to evoke the murky world of film noir, and paranoid string figures, stabbing brass, swooning sax and fiddly jazz drumming take us straight back to the Fifties. As the work unfolds, however, the colouring becomes bolder and brighter. Sometimes the music is hard-driven but frenzied activity repeatedly gives way to a musical clearing, momentarily recalling the calm after the storm in Britten’s Sea Interludes, which Adams performed at Sunday’s concert with the LSO.” (Evening Standard, March 2010)

“This was an extraordinarily compelling performance from the London Symphony Orchestra, directed by Adams himself… Adams activated the strong muscle of Britten’s writing: this was a performance less interested in the evocation of misty seascapes and salt-lashed winds than in the sheer power of musical abstraction. Then, within a warmly lyrical performance of Sibelius’s Sixth Symphony, Adams paid generous and compelling tribute to an early and much-revered master of minimalism.” (The Times, March 2010)