MSAC Individual Artist Award (IAA)2017
The music of composer Judah Adashi, grounded in the classical tradition and imbued with soul and pop influences ranging from Nina Simone to Björk, has been described as "beguiling" (Alex Ross, New Yorker), "elegant" (Steve Smith, Boston Globe), and "impassioned" (Will Robin, Bandcamp). His most recent work is focused on the interplay between art and activism, guided by a belief that the creation and performance of new music can bear witness to injustice, bring together diverse constituencies, create space for empathy, and serve as a call to action.
Among Dr. Adashi's recent compositions is Rise, a collaboration with poet Tameka Cage Conley. The 40-minute piece for double choir and chamber ensemble, which bears witness to America's civil rights journey from Selma to Ferguson and beyond, was praised for its "strong words [and] clear music" (Anne Midgette, Washington Post). Tim Smith of the Baltimore Sun wrote: "it's not easy to straddle genres; Adashi does so with naturalness and expressive impact." Dr. Adashi produced a 2016 performance of the work to launch RiseBmore, an annual evening of words and music honoring Freddie Gray, the young black man whose death while in police custody sparked the Baltimore Uprising.
As an organizer committed to creating meaningful contexts for 21st century classical music, Dr. Adashi is the founder and artistic director of the Evolution Contemporary Music Series, noted for having "elevated and enriched Baltimore's new music scene enormously" (Tim Smith, Baltimore Sun). The series has made Baltimore a destination for extraordinary new music and musicians since 2005. In the words of the Washington Post's Tim Page: "To live in Baltimore is to live in a perpetual state of surprise, and the marvelous and venturesome Evolution Series adds smart new music to the mix...for those of us who remember downtown New York in the 1970s, it is reassuring to find something very much like it happening in Baltimore now.
Passionate about introducing students to new music and empowering Baltimore's youngest artists to make their own, Dr. Adashi has been a member of the composition and music theory faculty at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University since 2002. In addition to teaching composition lessons and courses in contemporary music, he also directs Junior Bach, a one-on-one mentoring program in composition for middle school students, culminating each semester in a concert of their original music. Junior Bach alumnus Tariq Al-Sabir calls the program "a catalyst for growth, not only in music but in life...it taught me how to connect the music in my head to the music on paper and in the concert hall."
Dr. Adashi holds master's and doctoral degrees from Peabody, and a bachelor's degree from Yale University. He lives in Baltimore's Federal Hill neighborhood with his wife and frequent collaborator, cellist Lavena Johanson. Please visit judahadashi.com for more information.