Leslie Adams (composer)

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H. Leslie Adams

H. Leslie Adams (born December 30, 1932 in Cleveland, Ohio) is an American composer. His works have been performed by the Prague Radio Symphony, Iceland Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, and Indianapolis Symphony, and commissioned by The Cleveland Orchestra, Ohio Chamber Orchestra and Cleveland Chamber Symphony, among others. Metropolitan Opera artists have performed his vocal works internationally.

Adams holds degrees from Oberlin College, Long Beach State University and Ohio State University. He is listed in New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd ed.; International Who's Who in Music and Musicians; Wikipedia Encyclopedia; and Who's Who in America.

His opera Blake[1][2][3] (composed 1986) was the focus of a significant portion of Y.C. Williams's New Perspectives on Music (ed. J. Wright with S.A. Floyd Jr, published Warren, MI, 1992, pages 172–209).


Born Harrison Leslie Adams, Jr. in Cleveland, Ohio, Adams earned a Bachelor of Music Education from Oberlin College in 1955, a Master of Music from California State University, Long Beach in 1967, and a Ph.D in Music from Ohio State University in 1973. He also pursued private studies with Leon Dallin, Marcel Dick, Herbert Elwell, Joseph R. Wood, Vittorio Giannini, Edward Mattila, Robert Starer and Eugene O'Brien. He received composer residency fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation (Bellagio, Italy, 1979) and Yaddo Artist Residence (Saratoga Springs, New York, 1980 and 1984).

Adams' teaching includes serving as Associate Professor of Music at the University of Kansas (1969–1978).

Adams' Commissions include: Cleveland, OH: Ohio Chamber Orchestra, 1981–82; Cleveland Chamber Symphony, 1991; The Cleveland Orchestra, 1994; Minneapolis, MN: Paul Kaye Singers, through Borg-Warner Foundation, 1985; and Chicago, IL: Center for Black Music Research, 1989.

Adams' Memberships include: Life memberships in Phi Kappa Phi, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Phi Delta Kappa, Pi Kappa Lambda and American Choral Directors Association. Also American Guild of Organists and Advisory Council to the Musical Arts Association of The Cleveland Orchestra.

Adams' Honors and Awards include: Washington, DC: National Education Defense Act Fellowship, 1969–70; National Endowment for the Arts [composition project] award, 1979; Music Panelist, National Endowment for the Arts, 2008. Bellagio, Italy: Scholar-in-residence, Rockefeller Foundation Study and Conference Center, 1979. Saratoga Springs, NY: fellowships at Yaddo Artist Colony, 1980 and 1984. Cleveland, OH: Cleveland Foundation Fellow, 1980; Jennings Foundation Fellow, 1981; Featured composer, "Meet the Artist," Cleveland Public Schools, 1981–82, 1983–84 and 1991; Cleveland Arts Prize Lifetime Achievement Award, 2015; and Bascom Little Fund, 2017. Chicago, IL: NANM 2004 Composer Award. Ann Arbor, MI: Composer Legacy Award, National Opera Association, 2006. Long Beach, CA: Distinguished Alumnus Award, California State University at Long Beach 2006.

Adams' Composer Appearances and Residencies include: Juilliard School of Music, 2004; Manhattan School of Music, 2007; Joy of Singing at Lincoln Center, 2003; Tufts University, 2002; University of Baltimore College Park, 2000; Morehouse College, 2007; Millersville University, 2008; African American Art Song Alliance National Conventions, California, University of California Irvine 2007, 2012 and 2017; Cleveland, Ohio's Cleveland Arts Prize Lifetime Achievement Award Ceremony 2015; and Bascom Little Fund 50th Anniversary Concert, 2016.

Adams' Performances include: New York, NY: New York City Opera & Soloists (under Brian Garman); Avava Artists presentations (under Avid Williams). Philadelphia, PA: Opera North, Inc. (under Kay George Roberts). Prague Czechoslovakia: Prague Radio Symphony (under Julius Williams). Reykjavik, Iceland: Iceland Symphony (under Everett Lee). Cleveland, OH: Cleveland Orchestra (under Jahja Ling, Gareth Morrell, Mathis Dulak and Alan Gilbert); also Cleveland Chamber Symphony (under Edwin London) and Cleveland Chamber Orchestra (under Dwight Oltman). Buffalo, NY: Buffalo Philharmonic (under Julius Rudel and William Eddins). Indianapolis IN: Indianapolis Symphony (under William Henry Curry and Charles Darden). Detroit MI: Detroit Symphony (under Leslie Dunner). Savannah, GA: Savannah Symphony (under Phillip Greenberg). Springfield, OH: Springfield Symphony (under John Ferrito). Oakland, MI: Oakland-Pontiac Symphony (under David Daniels). St. Paul, MN: St Paul Symphony (under Eduard Forner). Wooster, OH: Wooster Symphony (under Jeffrey Lindberg). Chicago IL: Black Music Repertory Ensemble (under Michael Morgan and Kay George Roberts). Cleveland/Oberlin OH: Cleveland State University Choir (under J. LanYe); Lyric Opera Cleveland (under Jonathon Field); Oberlin College Opera Theater (under Judith Layng); Oberlin Conservatory Guest Lecture Recital Series, Stull Hall (under Thomas Otten). Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina: World premiere of Piano Etudes in Two Parts. Houston, TX: Houston Symphony (under Kirk Smith). Cleveland, OH: All- Adams concerts include "Spring Celebration: A May Bouquet" (presented by the Cleveland Clinic Arts & Medicine Institute) and The Greg Reese Performing Arts Center (under Founder Reese).

Adams' Performances by Metropolitan Opera artists include: Sopranos Martina Arroyo, Carmen Balthrop and Veronica Tyler; Mezzo Sopranos Denyce Graves, Hilda Harris, Barbara Conrad and Florence Quivar; Tenors Curtis Rayam and Seth McCoy; Baritones Ryan Speedo Green and Ben Holt; and Bass Mark Doss.

Family Background: Adams' father, Harrison Leslie Adams, Sr. (1888-1957) served as Second Lieutenant in WWI and later worked in the Cleveland civil service. His mother, Jessie Manease Adams (1900–93) a graduate of Tuskegee University later worked for the Cleveland Public Schools. Adams is cousin to Frederick O'Neal (1905–92) American actor, theater producer, television director and Actor's Equity Association President (1964–73).


  1. ^ "My new-found friends : Blake's aria from Blake : no. 22, act IV".
  2. ^ "That wild fire : Isabella's aria, from the opera Blake, no. 8, act I, scene 3".
  3. ^ "Miranda's prayer : "O sweet Jesus" from the opera Blake : no. 11, act 1, scene".


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