University of South Carolina School of Music
John Kenneth Adams has established himself as a leading performer of French repertoire, earning wide praise from critics ("stylistic assurance, fleetness of finger" (The Times, London), "fine clarity and fluidity" (The New York Times), "imaginative artistic approach seldom heard" (The Washington Post)). Adams has performed in the USA, South America, Europe and the Far East, with many concerts under the auspices of The United States Information Service (USIS).
Professor Adams performed the complete piano works of Claude Debussy in cycle at USC, and documented this repertoire in three articles for "Piano Quarterly" From 1995 until 2001 he was a participant in the French Piano Institute in Paris, and also served on the board of directors. He has presented a recital of French piano works at Weill Recital Hall, and in 2007 presented a lecture recital on Debussy's "Preludes" for the European Piano Teachers Congress in Novi Sad, Serbia.
This past year he presented his PowerPoint presentation "The Life and Music of Vladimir Horowitz" for Furman University, and the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts. He also performed his "Great Themes from Movies of the Forties" for the USC Sumter Artist Series, and gave a special Christmas recital for the Heritage at Lowman, where he has directed a piano series the past six years.
Professor Adams is preparing a new Piano Portrait entitled "Eroica", adding another title to his collection of 15 Piano Portraits on the lives of great composers for the keyboard. "Eroica" explores the period (1802-04) when Beethoven wrote both the Eroica Symphony and the Eroica Variations for piano, having discovered his growing deafness, so movingly addressed in the Heiligenstadt Testement of 1802.
John Kenneth Adams joined the faculty in 1964, after teaching three years at the University of Texas at Austin. A graduate of Yale School of Music, his teachers include Frank Mannheimer, Bruce Simonds, Hilda Dederich (London) and Ilonka Deckers (Milan). Professor Adams also studied with Carl Friedberg, one of the last students of Clara Schumann.
Adams has given many first performances in South Carolina of contemporary works, including "The People United Will Never Be Defeated" by Frederic Rzewski, "Phrygian Gates" and "China Gates" by John Adams, "Sonata No. 1" by Karel Husa, and Mario Davidovsky's "Synchronisms No.6 for Piano and Electronic Sound" (Pulitzer Prize 1971).
Professor Adams has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from SCMTA, the USC Mungo Award for Distinguished Teaching of Undergraduates, an Alumni Achievement Award from the University of Missouri, and an Award of Merit from Yale School of Music. He is Distinguished Professor of Piano Emeritus at USC Columbia.