With intellectual and emotional intensity, John Adams has transformed the operatic landscape. His many works stand out among contemporary classical compositions for their depth of expression, their sonic brilliance, and the profoundly humanist nature of their themes. He confronts the conundrums and moral complexities of our time, and dares audiences to do the same.
John Adams was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1947. By the time he was 13, already an accomplished clarinetist, he was determined to be a composer. After graduating from Harvard, he moved to Northern California and quickly became part of its thriving new-music scene. His stage works include Nixon in China (1987), The Death of Klinghoffer (1991), I was looking at the ceiling and then I saw the sky (1995), El Niño (2000), Doctor Atomic (2005), and A Flowering Tree (2006). Among his other works are the song cycle The Wound-Dresser (1989), the orchestral pieces Harmonium (1981), Shaker Loops (1983), and the Pulitzer Prize-winning On the Transmigration of Souls (2002).
Adams, who is also a conductor, has been an innovative force within many musical organizations. He instituted the "New and Unusual Music" series at the San Francisco Symphony, where he was Composer in Residence; served as Creative Chair for the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Music Director of the Cabrillo Festival; and, while occupying the Richard and Barbara Debs Composer's Chair at Carnegie Hall, established the annual "In Your Ear" festival. In the coming seasons he will serve as Creative Chair for the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Adams made his literary debut last year with a volume of memoirs and commentary on American musical life, entitled Hallelujah Junction (Farrar, Straus & Giroux 2008).