Born in London in 1971, Thomas Adès studied piano at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and read music at King’s College, Cambridge. Between 1993 and 1995 he was Composer in Association with the Hallé Orchestra, which resulted in The Origin of the Harp (1994), and These Premises Are Alarmed for the opening of the Bridgewater Hall in 1996. Asyla (1997) was a Feeney Trust commission for Sir Simon Rattle and the CBSO, who toured it together, and repeated it at Symphony Hall in August 1998 in Rattle’s last concert as Music Director. Rattle subsequently programmed Asyla in his opening concert with the Berlin Philharmonic as Music Director in September 2002.
Adès’ first opera, Powder Her Face (commissioned by Almeida Opera for the Cheltenham Festival in 1995), has been performed all round the world, was televised by Channel Four, and is available on a DVD as well as an EMI CD. Most of the composer’s music has been recorded by EMI, with whom Adès has a contract as composer, pianist and conductor. Adès’ second opera, The Tempest, was commissioned by London’s Royal Opera House and was premièred under the baton of the composer to great critical acclaim in February 2004. It was revived in 2007 – again to a sold-out house, and has since been seen in Copenhagen, Strasbourg and Santa Fe. In September 2005 his Violin Concerto for Anthony Marwood was premiered at the Berliner Festspiele and the BBC Proms, with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe under his baton. His second orchestral work for Simon Rattle, Tevot, (2007) was commissioned by the Berliner Philharmoniker and Carnegie Hall. More recently, Adès collaborated with video artist Tal Rosner for a commission from the Los Angeles Philharmonic and London’s Southbank Centre for a piano concerto with moving image ‘In Seven Days’. This work was given its world premiere in April 2008 by Nicolas Hodges, the London Sinfonietta and Adès at the Royal Festival Hall, London.
Adès’ reputation worldwide is now such that a number of international festivals have programmed focuses on his music. Among these were Helsinki’s Musica Nova (1999), Salzburg Easter Festival (2004), Radio France’s Prèsences (2007) and the Barbican’s ‘Traced Overhead’(2007); in addition Carnegie Hall New York has appointed him to the R and B Debs Composer Chair and feature him as composer, conductor and pianist throughout the 2007/8 season.
Unusually for such a full-time composer, Adès is also a renowned interpreter of a range of other music and his performances and recordings of composers including Kurtág, Nancarrow, Schumann, Schubert, Ruders, Tchaikovsky and Barry and Beethoven have been critically acclaimed. The many orchestras he has conducted include the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, the Philharmonia, Orchestre National de Radio France, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Hallé Orchestra, the BBC, Finnish and Danish Radio Symphony Orchestras, and ensembles such as Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (he was their Artistic Director for a few years), the London Sinfonietta, Ensemble Modern and the Athelas Ensemble.
Adès’ music has attracted numerous awards and prizes, including the prestigious Grawemeyer Award (2000) of which he is the youngest ever recipient. He was Artistic Director of the Aldeburgh Festival from 1999 to 2008.