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Christopher Adler

San Diego, CA      

Christopher Adler is a composer, performer and improviser living in San Diego, California. His music draws upon twenty 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 and traditional music for the khaen, a free-reed mouth organ from Laos and Northeast Thailand. He is a pianist for the nief-norf Project, 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 compositions encompass cross-culturally hybrid forms drawn from contemporary concert music and traditional musics of Thailand and Laos, the application of mathematics to 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, Bang on a Can, the MATA Festival, and at new music festivals and universities worldwide by ensembles including the Silk Road Ensemble, red fish blue fish, Ensemble ACJW, the Tesla Quartet, the Da Capo Chamber Players, Ensemble 64.8, the nief-norf Project, the Van Buren String Quartet, the Pangaea Quartet, pulsoptional, NOISE and the Seattle Creative Orchestra. His recent projects include Zaum Box, a setting a Russian transrational poetry for solo speaking percussionist, and Construct: for organ commissioned by the American Guild of Organists.

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). His retrospective analysis of his first ten years of cross-cultural composition has been published in John Zorn’s Arcana II: Musicians on Music (Hips Road, 2007), and he has published in the journal Sonic Ideas.

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., Thailand and Singapore. With his ongoing project New Musical Geographies, he has promoted the instrument by commissioning and recording new works by composers including Sidney Marquez Boquiren, Yu Kuwabara, H. James Harkins, Vera Ivanova, Christopher Burns, Jeff Herriott, and Matthew Welch. His recordings of compositions by David Loeb have been released on Vienna Modern Masters and Centaur. 

As a soloist and as pianist with the San Diego New Music resident ensemble, NOISE, he has appeared at the International Festival of Chihuahua, and at universities across the U.S. He has recorded compositions by Derek Keller (Tzadik), Nathan Hubbard (Circumvention/Accretions), Matthew Burtner (Innova Recordings), Stuart Saunders Smith, Christopher Burns, and Juan Campoverde Q.

Christopher Adler is currently Professor of Music at the University of San Diego where he teaches composition, 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.

Ecstatic Volutions in a Neon Haze (2005)

Performed at the nief-norf Summer Festival, 2014

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Finlyandya, from Zaum Box

Finlyandya / Финляндия
from Zaum Box, by Christopher Adler (2015-16)
Realization by Katelyn King, percussion
Video by Ute Freund
Sound by Christoph Utzinger
Filmed in Berlin, August, 2016
Text by Elena Guro, from Troe (1913)

Zaum Box is a collection of ten compositions for solo speaking percussionist, each setting one Russian futurist zaum text. The work was commissioned by percussionists Katelyn King and Alexv Rolfe.

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Emerging from the Deep Mist, by David Loeb

2011
Performed by Christopher Adler
khaen (Lao/Northeast Thai mouth organ)

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