Carnegie Hall Commissions
Christopher Adler is a composer, performer, and improviser living in San Diego, California. His music draws upon over a decade of research into the traditional musics of Thailand and Laos and his background in mathematics. He is internationally recognized as a foremost performer of new and traditional music for the khaen, a free-reed mouth organ from Laos and Northeast Thailand. As pianist and composer-in-residence with NOISE and co-founder of the soundON Festival of Modern Music he has promoted the works of emerging composers, and as an improviser on piano and as a conductor he has performed with many of the West Coast’s finest improvisers.
Christopher Adler’s compositions encompass cross-culturally hybrid forms drawn from contemporary concert music and traditional musics of Thailand and Laos, algorithmic composition, and the integration of improvisation into structured composition. His works have been performed at Carnegie Hall, Chicago Symphony Center, Tanglewood, Merkin Hall, Sumida Triphony Hall in Tokyo, and at new music festivals and universities across the U.S. by performers including the Silk Road Ensemble, percussion ensemble red fish blue fish, harpsichordists Michiyo Honma and Martin Pearlman, sheng virtuoso Wang Zheng-Ting, guitarist Colin McAllister, violinist Carmel Raz, violist Chia-Ying Hsu, and innovative new music ensembles such as pulsoptional, NOISE, and the Seattle Creative Orchestra. His compositions have been broadcast and webcast internationally on WGBH’s Art of the States and may be heard on his 2004 CD Epilogue for a Dark Day (Tzadik) and on a forthcoming release on Innova Recordings. His retrospective analysis of his first ten years of cross-cultural composition has been included in John Zorn’s Arcana II: Musicians on Music (Hips Road, 2007).
As the world’s leading innovator in the creation and performance of contemporary khaen repertoire, he has performed his own compositions and traditional repertoire at Carnegie Hall, the Bang on a Can Marathon, Music at the Anthology, the Cultural Center of Chicago, the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, and at many other universities across the U.S. and Thailand. He continues to promote the instrument through the commissioning of new works, having recently premiered a work by Sidney Marquez Boquiren and recorded a work by David Loeb for the Vienna Modern Masters label.
As a soloist and pianist with the San Diego New Music resident ensemble NOISE he has appeared at the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, the University of California at Santa Cruz, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the University of California at San Diego, and the California Institute of the Arts. He has recorded compositions by Derek Keller (Tzadik) and Nathan Hubbard (Circumvention/Accretions). He recently co-founded the soundON Festival of Modern Music, presenting four days of performances and workshops centered on the works of emerging composers, and is one of the only pianists in the world performing Tom Johnson’s Chord Catalogue.
He performs improvised music on piano as a duo with woodwind player Alan Lechusza and with drummer Vikas Srivastava as the Christopher Adler Trio. In addition, he collaborates on khaen with Marcelo Radulovich, Charles Curtis, and Scott Walton as the improvising acoustic ensemble Gunther’s Grass. He has conducted large improvising ensemble projects by Alan Lechusza and Nathan Hubbard, and has performed with such prominent improvisers as Mark Dresser, George Lewis, Anthony Davis, Vinny Golia, Michael Vlatkovich, Christopher Garcia, and Gustavo Aguilar. His piano improvisations may be heard on Mineralia (pfMENTUM) and Pleistocene by the Alan Lechusza/ Christopher Adler Duo, and on Transcontinental by the Christopher Adler Trio (Nine Winds). A site-specific solo khaen improvisation recorded aboard the Artship in Oakland, CA is available from Artship Recordings, and Gunther’s Grass may be heard on the compilation Rubble 2 (Accretions).
Christopher Adler is currently an Associate Professor at the University of San Diego where he teaches composition, sound art, theory, twentieth-century music, computer music, and world music. He has also taught at the University of North Carolina Greensboro and at Mahasarakham University in Thailand, and has lectured about his music and about the khaen across the United States and Thailand. 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, Stephen Jaffe, Sidney Corbett, and Evan Ziporyn; Thai music with Panya Roongruang; and pipe organ with James David Christie and Haig Mardirosian.