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Columbia Presents John Luther Adams with the Schuman Award

“one of the most original musical thinkers of the new century”
- Alex Ross, The New Yorker


Columbia University School of the Arts

announces that visionary American composer

John Luther Adams

is the 2015 recipient of the

 William Schuman Award

Award to be formally presented at a three-night tribute concert at Miller Theatre in
October 2015 featuring New York premiere performances of three major Adams works played by the
JACK Quartet, International Contemporary Ensemble, and Steven Schick


From Carol Becker, Dean of Columbia University School of the Arts:

“John Luther Adams' work anticipates a complex yet poetic intertwining of music and space. Whether he is writing for nontraditional sites or evoking the expansiveness of outdoor landscapes inside the concert hall, his writing radically redefines the relationship between sound and locality. We are thrilled to honor him with the Schuman Award.”


Columbia University School of the Arts is pleased to announce that John Luther Adams is the newest recipient of the William Schuman Award, a major recognition given periodically over the past three decades. Named for its first recipient, the award, in the form of a direct, unrestricted grant of $50,000, is one of the largest given to an American composer.

In the language of the gift establishing the prize, the purpose of the William Schuman Award is “to recognize the lifetime achievement of an American composer whose works have been widely performed and generally acknowledged to be of lasting significance.” It is awarded by the Dean of the School of the Arts at Columbia University. The award was established in 1981. Previous winners have included William Schuman, David Diamond, Gunther Schuller, Milton Babbitt, Hugo Weisgall, Steve Reich, John Zorn, and, most recently in 2010, Pauline Oliveros.

The prize will be awarded to Adams at a three-night tribute presented by Miller Theatre at Columbia University on October 7 – 10, 2015. The performances will showcase a trio of New York premieres: Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing (1991-95), In the White Silence (1998), and for Lou Harrison (2003-04). The trilogy of large-scale memorial works will be played by the JACK Quartet and the International Contemporary Ensemble, under the baton of noted conductor, percussionist, and longtime Adams collaborator Steven Schick.

“I am so excited to be able to celebrate John Luther Adams and his incredible work,” says Melissa Smey, Executive Director of Miller Theatre at Columbia University. “Working with John on the urban outdoor premiere of Inuksuit in Morningside Park was a career highlight for me. During that performance, I watched as young children, dog-walkers, new-music enthusiasts, joggers, and students all came together and stopped to listen to this amazing music in our local park. John’s music connects with people from many different backgrounds, on many different levels. I can’t wait to share more of it with New Yorkers.”

The three pieces on the program were written in memory of three important people in Adams’s life: his mother, father, and friend and mentor Lou Harrison.

Read the full press release online.