Christopher Adler is a composer, performer and improviser living in San Diego, California. His music draws upon over twenty-five years of research into the traditional musics of Thailand and Laos, and a background in mathematics. He is a foremost performer of new music for the khaen, a free-reed mouth organ from Laos and Northeast Thailand, and has composed extensively for instruments from Asia. Ensembles such as the Silk Road Ensemble, the Tesla Quartet and Red Fish Blue Fish have performed his works in major venues across the U.S. and Asia. He has produced works based on early 20th-century Russian futurism, including a Violin Concerto written for Sarah Plum and Zaum Box for speaking percussionist. Recent works include Aeneas in the Underworld, a concert-length chamber oratorio based on Vergil’s Aeneid for solo speaking guitarist and ensemble, and Construct: for organ, commissioned by the American Guild of Organists. He is a pianist with Nief-Norf and NOISE, an Affiliated Artist with San Diego New Music, a co-founder of the soundON Festival of Modern Music, and Director of Composition for the Nief-Norf Summer Festival. He studied with Scott Lindroth, Evan Ziporyn, Steven Jaffe and Sidney Corbett and is currently Professor of Music at the University of San Diego. His works are released on many labels including Tzadik and Innova, and his performances on labels including Centaur and Vienna Modern Masters. And in December, 2020, he released Triangulations: New music for khaen, volume 1, featuring new works by seven composers. christopheradler.com
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Christopher Adler is a composer, performer and improviser living in San Diego, California. His music draws upon over twenty-five years of research into the traditional musics of Thailand and Laos, and a background in mathematics. He is internationally recognized as a foremost performer of new music for the khaen, a free-reed mouth organ from Laos and Northeast Thailand. He is a pianist with Nief-Norf and Director of Composition for the Nief-Norf Summer Festival. He is also the pianist and composer-in-residence with NOISE, an Affiliated Artist with San Diego New Music, and a co-founder of the soundON Festival of Modern Music.
Christopher Adler’s stylistically diverse compositions are informed by an abiding fascination with the traditional musics of the world, and research into topics such as the traditional musics of Thailand and Laos, Russian futurism, the application of mathematics to music, and improvisation. His recent works include A City in Amber, for Korean geomungo ensemble, a ten-movement collection for speaking percussionist based on Russian futurist sound poetry (Zaum Box) released in a series of videos by percussionist Katelyn Rose King-Utzinger with cinematography by Ute Freund which was featured in the exhibition Louder Than Words at the Zuckerman Museum of Art, and a concert-length chamber oratorio based on Vergil’s Aeneid for solo speaking guitarist and ensemble (Aeneas in the Underworld). Recent works for keyboard include Construct: for organ, commissioned by the American Guild of Organists, and City Lights and Other Stories, a concert-length collection of piano solos spanning his diverse stylistic interests and designed to be accessible to student pianists. His works have been performed at Carnegie Hall, Chicago Symphony Center, Tanglewood, Merkin Hall, Shanghai Symphony Hall, the Seoul Arts Center, Sumida Triphony Hall in Tokyo, Bang on a Can, the MATA Festival, and at universities and new music festivals worldwide by ensembles including the Silk Road Ensemble, Ensemble ACJW, Da Capo Chamber Players, Chamber Cartel, Contact Contemporary Music, Tesla Quartet, Van Buren String Quartet, Passepartout Duo, pulsoptional, NOISE and the Seattle Creative Orchestra. His compositions for percussion ensemble have been performed by ensembles including red fish blue fish, Third Coast Percussion, Ensemble 64.8, and Nief-Norf, and have been presented at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention.
Christopher Adler is the world’s leading innovator in contemporary concert music for the khaen. He has performed his own compositions and traditional repertoire at Carnegie Hall, the Bang on a Can Marathon, Merkin Hall, Music at the Anthology, the Cultural Center of Chicago, and at universities across the U.S. and Southeast Asia. With his ongoing project New Musical Geographies, he has promoted the instrument by commissioning and recording new works by composers including Sidney Marquez Boquiren, Christopher Burns, Jinhee Han, H. James Harkins, Jeff Herriott, Vera Ivanova and Yu Kuwabara. In December, 2020, he released Triangulations: New music for khaen, volume one (Liber Pulveris Recordings), the first compact disc dedicated to contemporary khaen solo ever produced, featuring works by seven composers. His recordings of compositions by David Loeb have been released on Vienna Modern Masters and Centaur.
His compositions have been released on his 2008 CD Ecstatic Volutions in a Neon Haze (Innova) and his 2004 CD Epilogue for a Dark Day (Tzadik), and on recordings by percussionists Omar Carmenates (Rattle Records) and Morris Palter (Blue Leaf Records), and his Violin Concerto was released on Blue Griffin by violinist Sarah Plum with the San Diego New Music Orchestra, conducted by Nicholas Deyoe. His works have been broadcast and webcast internationally on WGBH’s Art of the States, WNYC, WQXR’s Q2 and BBC-3. His retrospective analysis of his first ten years of cross-cultural composition was published in John Zorn’s Arcana II: Musicians on Music (Hips Road, 2007).
As a soloist and as pianist with NOISE, San Diego New Music, and Nief-Norf, he has given scores of world premieres and recorded compositions by Derek Keller (Tzadik), Nathan Hubbard (Circumvention/Accretions), Matthew Burtner (Innova Recordings), Juan Campoverde Q. (Liber Pulveris Recordings), Stuart Saunders Smith, and Christopher Burns. His piano improvisations may be heard on Mineralia (pfMENTUM) and Pleistocene, by the Alan Lechusza/ Christopher Adler Duo, on Transcontinental, by the Christopher Adler Trio (Nine Winds), and on Hu Jianbing’s Sky (Traditional Crossroads). His improvisations on khaen have been released by Artship Recordings, and with the ensemble Gunther’s Grass on Titicacaman Recordings and Accretions.
Christopher Adler is currently Professor of Music at the University of San Diego where he teaches composition, sound art, theory, twentieth-century music, and world music. He received Ph.D. and Master’s degrees in composition from Duke University and Bachelor’s degrees in music composition and mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He studied composition with Scott Lindroth, Evan Ziporyn, Stephen Jaffe, Sidney Corbett, Thai music with Panya Roongruang, and pipe organ with James David Christie and Haig Mardirosian.