Composer, conductor, and creative thinker, John Adams occupies a unique position in the world of American music. His works, both operatic and symphonic, stand out among contemporary classical compositions for their depth of expression, brilliance of sound, and the profoundly humanist nature of their themes.
Works spanning more than three decades have entered the repertoire and are among the most performed of all contemporary classical music, among them Harmonielehre, Shaker Loops, his Violin Concerto, Chamber Symphony, Doctor Atomic Symphony, and Short Ride in a Fast Machine. His stage works, all in collaboration with director Peter Sellars, include Nixon in China, The Death of Klinghoffer, El Niño, Doctor Atomic, A Flowering Tree, and the Passion oratorio The Gospel According to the Other Mary. His large-scale choral work, On the Transmigration of Souls, commissioned by the New York Philharmonic to commemorate the first anniversary of 9/11, received the 2003 Pulitzer Prize in Music. His Violin Concerto won the 1993 Grawemeyer Award. He is among the most frequently performed living American composers of orchestral music.
Adams has received honorary doctorates from Juilliard, Yale, Harvard, Northwestern, and Cambridge University in England, among other institutions. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California honored him with the Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement for his distinguished service to the arts in his adopted home state. Adams is an inductee of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an NEA Opera Honors recipient, a winner of the Nemmers Prize in Music Composition, and has won multiple Grammy awards. France has also honored Adams by inducting him as a Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
As a conductor, Adams appears with the world’s major orchestras in programs combining his own works with a wide variety of repertoire ranging from Beethoven and Mozart to Ives, Carter, Zappa, Glass, and Ellington. He is currently Creative Chair for the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
The Cabrillo Festival has presented fifteen works by Adams, including two US premieres and four West Coast premieres. On Saturday, August 6, Alsop conducts Adams’ Absolute Jest, as well as the world premiere of Lola Montez Does the Spider Dance, dedicated to Alsop by the composer and commissioned in her honor by the musicians of the Festival Orchestra.