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Stephen Adams : Represented Artist

'Music is the space where contradictions resolve or are suspended in magical irresolution, where the shaping of time and sounding of voices strengthen our grip on experience...'

Random Audio Sample: Migrant hostel : SATB choir with orchestra by Stephen Adams, from the CD Federation celebration, 28th and 29th August 2002.

Photo of Stephen Adams

Stephen Adams lives in Sydney where he works as Producer, Australian Music Unit for ABC Classic FM. His work at the ABC includes commissioning and producing Australian music recordings and special projects, co-producing New Music Up Late with presenter Julian Day, and developing an Australian Music website (www.abc.net.au/classic/australianmusic) featuring downloads and audio-streaming of new and heritage Australian music. He was chosen as the ABC's Radio Music jury representative for the 2007 Prix Italia in Verona.

Adams studied composition with Peter Sculthorpe at the University of Sydney and with Richard Vella at Queensland University of Technology. His music is influenced by his performing experience in choral music, rock music, improvisation and contemporary music theatre, as well as language studies and extensive cross-cultural teaching experience in Australia and overseas.

His religious heritage and experiences of literature and other art forms have been fertile sources for musical ideas; likewise, what he describes as the experience of tactile synaesthesia. The common thread in his music is the embodiment of experience in the voice. The central creative tension is between the delivery of meanings and the ecstatic possibilities of vocalising.

Textual quotations from music, literature and the media in Adams's music function both as buried quasi-cantus firmae and as alchemical ingredients for the magical dissolving of the fault-lines in his identity and the contradictions in society.

Adams's vocal concert works have been frequently presented on radio and performed in tours and international festivals in Australia, Asia, Europe and North America. His best-known choral work, Sydney Dreaming, was the title track of ABC Classics' 1996 Contemporary Singers CD. His major work - memory pieces, composed for Sydney Chamber Choir using a text by performance poet Ania Walwicz, was released by Tall Poppies on the Chamber Choir CD Landscape's Creatures (2001).

Other works range through incidental music, songs, chamber music, collaborative 'improvisations', digital works and electronica, and a 70-minute a cappella 'opera' Sydney Dreaming Theatre. The multi-speaker, digital/vocal 'score' for The Audience and Other Psychopaths (2001-2004), was created in a theatrical collaboration with Nigel Kellaway's THE OPERA PROJECT, soprano Karen Cummings and writer Amanda Stewart. Recent projects include a series of short digital works for Radio National's The Night Air and new concert works for Sydney Chamber Choir and The Song Company.

Adams says: "Music is the space where contradictions resolve or are suspended in magical irresolution, where the shaping of time and sounding of voices strengthen our grip on experience, our sense of being in the world and of life's beautiful strangeness".

Stephen Adams — current to July 2011

Studied with

Peter Sculthorpe (1982 - 1986)

Richard Vella (2002 - 2004)


Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Kalaya : Meeting place (2012) Commissioned as part of the '101 Commissions' project to celebrate the Conservatorium’s centenary
Digital sheet music sample Reverse : for solo flute (2009) Written for flautist Janet McKay to enable her to take Reverse (previously for flute and synthesizer) on her solo tour of the United States
A short service : in memory of John Cage (2007) Commissioned for 'Cage Uncaged'
Spin : play pieces for choir (2005) Commissioned by the Sydney Chamber Choir on the occasion of their 30th birthday
Karen's internal world : from The audience and other psychopaths, Sc.13 (2004) Created with the support of the New Media and Hybrid Arts Board of the Australia Council for the Arts.
For solitary cello : cello solo (2002) For Cello was composed for cellist Eleanor Lewis in response to hearing her premiere with baritone Simon Lobelson and cellist Cathy Tabrett of 'Crucifix', a work which was until then unperformed. This revived my interest in writing for cello.

Analysis & Media

- Program note: Desires: movements towards the divine (1997) Stephen Adams (b.1963)

- Review: Desire Divine The Song Company 28 July 1998

- Program note: A Short Service 2007

- Review: The Song Company Cage Uncaged 15 September 2007

- Review: The Song Company Cage Uncaged 15 September 2007