Grant Recipients Grants to Artists Music/Sound 1993

John Luther Adams

JohnLuther Adams
  • Composer
  • Born Meridian, MI, 1953
  • Lives in Fairbanks, AK
  •  
  • Additional Information
  • johnlutheradams.com

I am honored and deeply grateful to have been among the first artists chosen for support under the Foundation's program of [Grants to Artists]... This is one of the most significant events of my career and was the catalyst for one of the most productive years of my creative life. The grant from the Foundation gave me twelve months free from the pressure of deadlines and the artistic constraints of commissioned work, allowing me to devote myself entirely to new work.

- John Luther Adams, January 29, 1994

Biography

John Luther Adams is a composer whose life and work are rooted in the natural world.

Adams composes for orchestra, chamber ensembles, percussion, and electronic media. His orchestral and electronic sound work Dark Waves (2007) has been performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Radio Netherlands Philharmonic, and the Melbourne Symphony. Inuksuit (2009), his outdoor work for up to 99 percussionists, has been performed in New York City's Morningside Park, and the Park Avenue Armory, as well as many other outdoor venues throughout the U.S., Canada, and Australia. His music is recorded on the labels Cantaloupe, Cold Blue, New World, Mode, and New Albion.

Adams is the author of Winter Music (2004), a collection of essays, journal entries, and reflections on his life and work in Alaska. His second book, The Place Where You Go to Listen (2009), centers on his installation at the Museum of the North that translates geophysical data streams into an ever-changing environment of sound and light. The Farthest Place (2012), a book-length critical study of Adams's music, includes essays by Kyle Gann, Steven Schick, and Glenn Kotche, among other musicians and scholars.

Following his FCPA grant, Adams was the recipient of the Heinz Award (2012) for his contributions to raising environmental awareness, the Nemmers Prize from Northwestern University (2010), and was awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Music for his symphonic work Become Ocean (2013).

Adams has taught at Harvard University, the Oberlin Conservatory, Bennington College, and the University of Alaska. He has also served as composer-in-residence with the Anchorage Symphony, Anchorage Opera, Fairbanks Symphony, Arctic Chamber Orchestra, and the Alaska Public Radio Network.

Adams studied composition with James Tenney at the California Institute of the Arts, where he was in the first graduating class of 1973. In the mid-1970s he became active in the campaign for the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, and subsequently served as executive director of the Northern Alaska Environmental Center.

Artist Statement

Music is not what I do. It's how I understand the world.

For me, the whole world is music. When we are listening, we are more fully present in the world.

And in this time when we humans have become a geologic force, I believe that music can serve as a sounding model for the renewal of consciousness and culture.

- 2014

Four figures stand on a grassy mound playing instruments. Snow-topped mountains and a light blue sky are in the background.
Film still from Strange and Sacred Noise, 2011 by Leonard Kamerling. FCPA supported the 1997 composition of the same name.
FCPA-supported composition Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing, 1997.
A black silhouette stands on top of a small dry hill. The blue sky has clouds and is cast upon snowy peaks of mountains. Chestnut red bushes are reflected on a small lake that they surround.
Film still from Strange and Sacred Noise, 2011 by Leonard Kamerling. FCPA supported the 1997 composition of the same name.
Three figures stand on a green grassy area playing marimbas connected to computers. Behind them the sky at the top is a sea blue and as it goes down to the horizon line, becomes a sunny yellow and a peachy orange that blend together. The view of the sky is cut by mountains with a river crossing in front of them.
Film still from Strange and Sacred Noise, 2011 by Leonard Kamerling. FCPA supported the 1997 composition of the same name.
Four people dressed in heavily for the cold play xylophones. They are in a horizontal line, en face the camera. Mountains with peaks of snow and green plains stand behind them.
Film still from Strange and Sacred Noise, 2011 by Leonard Kamerling. FCPA supported the 1997 composition of the same name.
A figure dressed in tree trunk brown and wearing a red cap and glasses, holds two sticks with rounded ends that he hits a flat round plate with. He stands sideways on the middle of a grassy green plain.
Film still from Strange and Sacred Noise, 2011 by Leonard Kamerling. FCPA supported the 1997 composition of the same name.
Three people walk in a queue upwards a hill towards three musical instruments. Behind the hillside there are grassy green plains with masses of glistering water and the end tail of a mountain.
Film still from Strange and Sacred Noise, 2011 by Leonard Kamerling. FCPA supported the 1997 composition of the same name.
Two black silhouettes with music sheet stands, are situated in front of unmoving water. Behind the water grassy green hills rise with another silhouette turned towards the two people on the other side of the water. A warm yellow sky extends in the back of the hills.
Film still from Strange and Sacred Noise, 2011 by Leonard Kamerling. FCPA supported the 1997 composition of the same name.