John ADAMS, Conductor
Esmé Quartet, String Quartet*
John ADAMS (Composer/Conductor)
As a conductor Adams has led the world’s major orchestras, programming his own works with a wide variety of repertoire ranging from Beethoven, Mozart and Debussy to Sibelius, Ives, Carter, and Ellington. Among his honorary doctorates are those from Yale, Harvard, Northwestern and Cambridge universities and from The Juilliard School. A provocative writer, he is author of the highly acclaimed autobiography Hallelujah Junction and is a frequent contributor to The New York Times Book Review. Since 2009 Adams has been Creative Chair of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Born and raised in New England, Adams learned the clarinet from his father and played in marching bands and community orchestras during his formative years. He began composing age ten and his first orchestral pieces were performed while he was still a teenager. In 2017 Adams celebrated his 70th birthday with festivals of his music in Europe and the US, including special retrospectives at London’s Barbican, Cité de la Musique in Paris, and in Amsterdam, New York and Geneva, among other cities. In 2019 he was the recipient of both Spain’s BBVA ‘“Frontiers of Knowledge’ ” award and Holland’s Erasmus Prize “for notable contributions to European culture, society and social science”, and in 2021 he was appointed ‘“Honorary Academician’” by the prestigious General Assembly of the Academicians of Santa Cecilia, also receiving the ‘“Glashütte Original MusicFestivalAward’” from the Dresden Music Festival in recognition of his lifetime achievement. Adams is currently at work on his fifth opera.
Conducting engagements in 2021/22 include return visits to The Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Seattle and St Louis symphony orchestras. In Europe Adams will appear with the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra – reuniting with Icelandic pianist Vikingur Ólafsson for performances of Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? – as well as the Rotterdam Philharmonic and Lahti Symphony orchestras. Music Director of the Ojai Music Festival in 2021, its 75th anniversary year, he also takes part in the 2022 Colorado Music and Cincinnati May festivals.
Recent conducting highlights include performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (world premiere of Philip Glass’ Symphony No.12 ‘“Lodger’”), The Philadelphia Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. With the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France Adams gave the European premiere of Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? together with Ólafsson in February 2020, and in 2018 he conducted the Orchestra e Coro dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia for the first time in performances of The Gospel According to the Other Mary.
Recent recordings include Grammy-nominated albums Doctor Atomic (featuring the BBC Symphony Orchestra and BBC Singers conducted by Adams, with Gerald Finley and Julia Bullock) and Scheherazade.2, a dramatic symphony for violin and orchestra written for Leila Josefowicz, as well as Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? (written for and performed by Yuja Wang, together the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Gustavo Dudamel) and the Berliner Philharmoniker’s ‘“John Adams Edition’”, a box set comprising seven of his works, conducted by Rattle, Dudamel, Petrenko, Gilbert and Adams.
Esmé Quartet (String Quartet)
The Esmé Quartet is a string quartet, formed in 2016 at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz in Cologne, Germany by four Korean musicians. The ensemble takes its name from an Old French word meaning ‘being loved‘.
Winning the first prize and sweeping four of the special prizes, among them the Mozart and Beethoven prizes, at the 2018 London Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition the Esmé Quartet made a sensational entrance into the string quartet world. Subsequently, they were invited and started touring internationally playing concerts at festivals and concert halls such as the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland, the Wigmore Hall and throughout the UK, at the Flagey Musiq3 Festival in Brussels and Classic Esterházy in Eisenstadt, Austria.
They recorded their debut CD with works by Beethoven, Unsuk Chin, and Frank Bridge on the label Alpha Classics. The recording was released in early 2020 and has achieved critical acclaim with a 5 star review from Diapason d’Or. In 2022 the quartet will perform on tour for the first time in North America and Japan.
Photo: ©Jeremy Visuals Photography