Adams, John Luther
- Sabine Feisst
(b Meridian, MS, Jan 23, 1953). American composer. Growing up in the American South and on the Northeastern seaboard, Adams began his musical career with piano and trumpet lessons, rock drumming, and songwriting in his teens. However, it was the music of Frank Zappa that shifted his focus to contemporary classical music, above all the works of Cage, Feldman, and Varèse. Adams studied composition with Leonard Stein and James Tenney at the California Institute of the Arts (BFA 1973). Drawn to environmentalism during his music studies in overdeveloped Southern California, Adams traveled to Alaska in 1975 to campaign for the passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. He settled there in 1978 to serve as executive director of the Northern Alaska Environmental Center, but soon thereafter established himself as the composer most strongly associated with Alaska, paying tribute in his compositions almost exclusively to his chosen environment. In the 1980s and 1990s Adams was also active as a performer: as timpanist and principal percussionist of the Fairbanks SO and the Arctic Chamber Orchestra (...