Episode #1

John Luther Adams: Bad Decisions and Finding Home

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

John Luther Adams John Luther Adams (Evan Hurd / Cantaloupe Music)

John Luther Adams made all of the wrong career decisions. He got kicked out of multiple high schools, went to the "wrong" college, never finished his master's degree, and ultimately moved as close as he could to the edge of society, to a cabin, in Alaska.

Somehow, though, all of these unconventional moves crystallized his creative voice into something singular, instantly recognizable, and emotionally mature. Adams's music is fast and slow at the same time, unraveling in fractal patterns that mimic great vast landscapes as well as tiny variations in the snow.


John Luther Adams, Jim Altieri, JoAnn Falletta, Alex Ross and Steven Schick

Hosted by:

Nadia Sirota

Produced by:

Thea Chaloner and Alexander Overington

John Luther Adams: I. Frank Zappa as Gateway Drug

If you know John Luther Adams's music now, you might not guess that he started as a member of a rock cover band in New Jersey called "Sloth"—in fact, there a few things you might not ...

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John Luther Adams: II. "From the moment I arrived, I knew I'd found home."

Adams relocated to Alaska in the 1970's. While he moved north, his musical vision centered, developing the signature, open sound by which he has come to be known. In the second moveme...


John Luther Adams: III. Weather, Wind and Being Brave

In the third movement of episode three, hear about John Luther Adams's installations and dream-based composing methods, and hear the JACK Quartet play part of an unreleased string qua...

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John Luther Adams: Playlist

Hear a piece of music you loved in the show and want to learn or hear more? Click ahead for a complete breakdown of all the music used for scoring and illustration in episode one, along with buy links to the albums.

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Comments [5]

Edward Chang from NYC, LES

Interesting. Was at the Lincoln Center Breath of the World performance but was a bit distracted by the movement scheme. It seems I prefer his music using my own mind's eye. BTW, "The Farthest Place" has a very similar fabric to the beginning of U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name". Fast ostinati in high register with low organ-like chord harmony underneath... Perhaps an inspiration?

Excellent podcast BTW

Ed Chang

Sep. 18 2015 07:24 PM
Dave Gerhart from Long Beach, CA

I heard clips of this on RadioLab and I want the entire episode on Downcast. Please re-release it. Thanks

Oct. 20 2014 03:06 AM
Mike from United States

This episode isn't showing up on Downcast on my iPhone :-(
I loved the episodes I've heard though!

Oct. 14 2014 11:44 PM
Simon from Montreal

I heard about this podcast while listening to Radiolab. I'm gald I looked it up. Amazing work. Thanks!

Oct. 08 2014 02:38 PM
Carol from Hawaii

Always inspirational, makes me restless, encourages me to be brave and share.

Jun. 23 2014 11:32 PM

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