John Luther Adams

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About John Luther Adams

In the music of composer John Luther Adams (not to be confused with his contemporary, John Adams) mood and texture take precedence over conventional melodic and harmonic motion. Born in Mississippi in 1953, Adams started out as a rock drummer before becoming interested in avant-garde composers like Morton Feldman and Edgard Varèse. He studied with James Tenney and others at CalArts, and after graduation, his interest in environmental protection brought him to Alaska, where he became interested in evoking the sounds of the natural world. He would remain in Alaska for decades, composing during much of his time there, from the ’70s on, heavily influenced by minimalism and ambient music. During the ’80s, he was a percussionist with the Fairbanks Symphony and Arctic Chamber Orchestra. Some of Adams’ best-known works came in the 21st century, most notably the glacially themed Become Ocean (2013), which earned the composer both a Pulitzer and a Grammy.

Meridian, MS, United States
January 23, 1953

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