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
Anna Finnegan +44 (0)20 3725 9110

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.

Adams’ latest work is Scheherazade.2 written for Leila Josefowicz and premiered by New York Philharmonic under Alan Gilbert. Adams conducts the Dutch and UK premieres of the work with the Royal Concertgebouw and London Symphony orchestras in October 2015. John Adams is currently working on a new opera based on the California Gold Rush.

As conductor, Adams returns to the Seattle and Baltimore symphony orchestras this season and is a key contributor to the ‘Sound Unbound’ festival at London’s Barbican Centre. He also continues in his role as Creative Chair with Los Angeles Philharmonic. Last season, Adams debuted with Wiener Symphoniker and returned to the San Francisco, Atlanta and Cincinnati symphony orchestras. He has previously conducted The Cleveland Orchestra, Orquesta Nacional de España and the Chicago, Pittsburgh, Houston, Toronto and BBC symphony orchestras, among others. 

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.

Adams’ latest work is Scheherazade.2 written for Leila Josefowicz and premiered by New York Philharmonic under Alan Gilbert. Adams conducts the Dutch and UK premieres of the work with the Royal Concertgebouw and London Symphony orchestras in October 2015. John Adams is currently working on a new opera based on the California Gold Rush.

As conductor, Adams returns to the Seattle and Baltimore symphony orchestras this season and is a key contributor to the ‘Sound Unbound’ festival at London’s Barbican Centre. He also continues in his role as Creative Chair with Los Angeles Philharmonic. Last season, Adams debuted with Wiener Symphoniker and returned to the San Francisco, Atlanta and Cincinnati symphony orchestras. He has previously conducted The Cleveland Orchestra, Orquesta Nacional de España and the Chicago, Pittsburgh, Houston, Toronto and BBC symphony orchestras, among others. 

Adams has received honorary doctorates from Yale, Harvard, Northwestern, Cambridge and The Juilliard School. A provocative writer, he is author of the acclaimed autobiography ‘Hallelujah Junction’ and is a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review. 

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Contacts

Jane Brown +44 (0)20 3725 9129
Anna Finnegan +44 (0)20 3725 9110

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)