"Threatening and horrific like a gale wind,... nurturing and comforting like a heartbeat..." says the Bangor Daily News describing the music of John Luther Adams. Adams joins the Oberlin composition faculty this fall as Associate Professor bringing with him an environmental consciousness and cultural awareness coupled with a minimalist aesthetic that presents itself in his music as well as his teachings.
Adams, born in 1953 in Mississippi and raised in Georgia, studied music composition at the California Institute of the Arts with James Tenney and Leonard Stein as well as Harold Budd, Morton Subotnik, and Mel Powell. For over twenty years he has lived on a homestead near Fairbanks, Alaska, where he has served as composer-in-residence with the Anchorage Symphony, the Anchorage Opera, the Alaska Public Radio Network, and as the principal percussionist for the Fairbanks Symphony and the Arctic Chamber Orchestra. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the American Music Center, and numerous commissions and awards.
Orchestral works, chamber ensembles, radio, film, television, opera, and music theater are all part of the wide spectrum of media that Adams' music encompasses. He has worked with many prominent ensembles and presenters including the California E.A.R. Unit, Bang on a Can, the Paul Dresher Ensemble, The Percussion Group- Cincinnati, New Music America, Perseverance Theater, the Children's Theater Company, and Just Strings.
Adams is an active environmentalist whose work displays a sincere connection to the natural world. He has worked as executive director of the Northern Alaska Environmental Center and has been a leader in the Green Party of Alaska. His music explores numerous types of natural phenomena from the spirited music of the Carolina wren and the cardinal, to the complex nature of chaos, fractal geometry, and noise. "My music is profoundly influenced by the natural world and a strong sense of place. Through deep and 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."