"Christopher Adler is a rare example of a Western musician and composer who has immersed himself deeply in the music of a certain part of the world - in his case, Southeast Asia - with the objective not only of researching this culture and mastering its music tradition, but also in order to bring new ideas to Western-style composition.... The lush, poly-tonal harmonic landscapes of overlapping chordal fields, the rhythmic evocations of Gamelan, the sounds of bells, gongs, but also of orchestral strings, and the superimposition of various melodic styles all make for a very unusual, inspiring listen and demonstrate that it is quite possible to come up with innovative and original music today, while not sacrificing visceral appeal. "
from a recommendation of the CD Epilogue for a Dark Day, by Lukas Ligeti for Tzadik Records
"This was music of veiled mystery, tones surrounded by dissonance and consonance at the same time, like layers of rock or colored sand, and played with the clarity of a desert night sky."
from a review of Desert Visions, presented by San Diego New Music, by Marcus Overton for the San Diego Union-Tribune
"Christopher Adler's Violin Concerto is quite a different thing, kicking off with Shift (The Knife Grinder), spiky and full of stop-start rhythms and clattering percussion. The call and response between soloist and orchestra is a little more traditional and the movement ends with what feels like a cadenza. The second movement, Verelloe, quietly spooky with low sounds from the harp, stands in for the adagio that often forms the middle movement of three. So, classical architecture then, but the steel and glass sheath is purely modern. Adler's writing here is very beautiful, but also unsettling, and he develops his ideas impressively in this long movement. Verelloe grows darker as it nears its end, fading out before the start of Tektonika, the final movement. There's lots of drama here, with a wide dynamic range and some violence to the rhythms, especially in a Stravinskian herky-jerky section in the middle. ... The end of the movement, and the concerto, is pensive and lyrical at the same time, with a worried ostinato working behind the violin line, which eventually ascends on its own, seeking a hopeful future from a new perspective. Both Corbett and Adler are accomplished composers and each piece feels very complete. This is not difficult music but it is challenging on an emotional level and well worth the journey it takes you on. Each artist draws on something with great personal meaning for them but puts it in a context that allows anyone to find their place in the sounds."
from a review of Music for new Century by Jeremy Shatan for Anearful, Aug. 8, 2015
"Adler’s The Toy Robot’s Mechanical Heart, a work for toy piano and percussion, has really stayed with me since, its energy and rhythmic complexity having a life of its own."
from a review of the 2016 nief-norf Summer Festival for Arts Knoxville, June 20, 2016
"Christopher Adler is one of the bright lights on the West Coast today."
from a review of Ecsatic Volutions in a Neon Haze, by Grego Applegate Edwards, Gapplegate Music Blog
"In Christopher Adler’s virtuoso hands, the evening made the case for the versatility of an instrument with charms that transcend its limitations."
from a review of New Musical Geographies at Unruly Music, Milwaukee (April 18, 2011), by Michael Barndt for Third Coast Digest
"Two pieces stood out. Christopher Adler, the one American on the program, exercised his fascination with Chinese instruments, particularly the sheng (a mouth organ) and the guanzi (an oboe), in the invitingly sinuous "Serpent of Five Tongues" (2009). Using the sheng to produce a chordal backdrop — undulating at first, then more varied — against which the guanzi plays long-lined melodies. Near the end, the guanzi line becomes a jazz-tinged solo in which the instrument’s timbre is softened so radically that it sounds more like a trumpet than an oboe. The expert players were Hu Jianbing on the sheng and Bao Jian on the guanzi."
from a review of the MATA Festival, New York (May 11, 2011), by Allan Kozinn for the New York Times
"The close-knit harmonies and concentrated reedy sounds that began American composer Christopher Adler’s "Serpent of Five Tongues" gave way to a blazing, virtuosic, partially improvised climax before settling into an irresistible groove, all the while melding southeast Asian inflections, blues and dance rhythms. The piece — whose title refers to a Hindu serpent god, naga, protector of Buddha as well as the five-voice texture of the opening bars — was a world premiere at the MATA Festival, which had its first concert at Le Poisson Rouge on Tuesday. The work was fresh, well crafted, brilliantly executed and accessible without ever seeming to pander — an ideal representation of the festival’s mission."
from a review of the MATA Festival, New York (May 11, 2011), by Ronni Reich for NJ.com
"...a stunning music sporting unique instrumentation, timbres and tones that reflect an affinity for electronic music, and an acoustic esthetic that is sonorous, at times shimmering, and definitely spiritual"
from a review by Michael G. Nastos, All Music Guide / Here is a second review in the All Music Guide
"Brillamment écrit, cette pièce sonore demeure une oeuvre fantastique, dont l’écoute vous apportera une évasion de l’esprit."
from a review of Ecsatic Volutions in a Neon Haze, by Punk Sportif for Pepper Zone (May, 2008). Also reviewed: Mineralia. (Pepper Zone home)
"Stunningly distinctive yet steeped in tradition, Adler's work stands as a testament to the power of global-minded musicmaking."
from a Preview of the Metal with Reeds ... Reeds of Metal performance in San Francisco, by Sam Prestianni for the SFWeekly
"...this music is filled with vibrant energy and sunshine."
from a review of Epilogue for a Dark Day in the New Music Box, by Frank J. Oteri (September, 2004)
"...a stunning music sporting unique instrumentation, timbres and tones that reflect an affinity for electronic music, and an acoustic esthetic that is sonorous, at times shimmering, and definitely spiritual."
"This is music as essential as it is essentialist, no doubt as interesting to play as it is to hear. Listen and you'll learn as well as enjoy."
from a review of Epilogue for a Dark Day, by Michael G. Nastos for All Music Guide
from a review of Ecstatic Volutions in a Neon Haze, by
Grego Applegate Edwards, Gapplegate Music Blog
"Andrea Lodge and Chris Adler, nief-norf’s composition director, gave a thundering, festival-highlight piano four-hands rendition of the first part of Stravisnky's Rite of Spring"
from a review of the 2016 nief-norf Summer Festival for the Knoxville Mercury, June 21, 2016
"The concert even included a terrific piano-four-hands version of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, which brought down the house and the audience to their feet. "
from a review of the 2016 nief-norf Summer Festival for Arts Knoxville, June 20, 2016
"All of it was beautiful — outstanding playing, remarkable music."
from a review of the 2017 soundON Festival of Modern Music by Marcus Overton for the San Diego Union-Tribune
"2017 SoundON Festival Opens with Striking Fare and Superb Performances."
from review of the 2017 soundON Festival of Modern Music by Ken Herman for San Diego Story
"Fresh and challenging"
from a review of Ensemble ACJW's Carnegie Hall performance of Music for a Royal Palace, by Fred Kirshnit, New York Sun (February 21, 2008)
"Pianist Christopher Adler gave a powerful account of bright clusters bouncing up and down the keyboard, while flutist Cella, clarinetist Zelickman and cellist Franklin Cox insistently challenged the piano’s dominance with dark murmerings that grew in dynamic levels and density over the course of the work."
about a performance of James Erber's The Ray and its Shadow by NOISE, at the 2015 soundON Festival of Modern Music,
by Kenneth Herman for sandiegostory.com
"Drummer Morris Palter’s ardent discipline brought this thunderous but cleanly wrought minimalist tribute to life to the great approval of the Athenaeum audience."
about Plenum Vortices from a review of the soundON Festival of Modern Music 2014 night 2 by Kenneth Herman for sandiegostory.com
Review of Improvised session with Nathan Hubbard and Scott Walton, by Robert Bush, January 18, 2013, in the San Diego Reader (session video)
Review of Once, in a Grove of Tamarisk, in Percussive Notes, January 2013
Review of the soundON Festival of Modern Music 2011 night 1 by Christian Hertzog for sequenza21.com
"I was greatly impressed by Juan Campoverde Q.’s virtuoso solo piano suite Aires, played with finesse and confidence by Christopher Adler."
from a review of the 2010 soundON Festival of Modern Music (June 18, 2010), by Kenneth Herman for SanDiego.com
"Evan Ziporyn's 1999 "Pondok: Fragrant Forest," a work for solo piano played with energetic precision by Christopher Adler..."
from a review of NOISE at the Library, by Kenneth Herman, sandiego.com (January 29, 2007)
Ecstatic Volutions in a Neon Haze, featured on WNYC New Sounds, Feb. 18, 2009
Epilogue for a Dark Day, featured on WNYC New Sounds, Aug. 31, 2006
KALW Music from Other Minds, June 7, 2013