Born in London in 1971, Thomas Adès studied piano at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and read music at King’s College, Cambridge. A prodigious composer, conductor and pianist, Adès was described by the New York Times in 2007 as one of today’s ‘most accomplished overall musicians.’
Adès’s chamber opera Powder Her Face (1995) has been performed worldwide whilst The Tempest (2004) was commissioned by London’s Royal Opera House and has since been taken up by international houses including New York’s Metropolitan Opera, where it was recorded for a Deutsche Grammophon DVD which subsequently won a Grammy Award. Adès’s third opera, after Luis Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel, premiered at the Salzburg Festival in July 2016 before travelling to London, New York and Copenhagen.
Between 1993 and 1995, Adès was Composer in Association with the Hallé Orchestra, producing These Premises Are Alarmed for the opening of the Bridgewater Hall in 1996. Asyla (1997) was written for Sir Simon Rattle and the CBSO. In 2005 Adès premiered his Violin Concerto ‘Concentric Paths’, with Anthony Marwood and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, at the Berlin Festspiele and the BBC Proms. His chamber music includes the clarinet quintet Alchymia (2021), two string quartets Arcadiana (1994) and The Four Quarters (2010), a Piano Quintet (2000) and Lieux retrouvés (2009) for cello and piano.
Tevot (2007), was commissioned by the Berlin Philharmonic and Carnegie Hall whilst In Seven Days (a concerto for piano with moving image) was premiered in 2008 in London and Los Angeles. Polaris (2011) was premiered by the New World Symphony with Michael Tilson Thomas in Miami and was later choreographed to acclaim by Crystal Pite as part of an all-Adès evening at Sadler’s Wells. In addition to Wayne McGregor and Pite, other choreographers who have worked with his music include Karole Armitage, Kim Brandstrup, and Ashley Page. Totentanz for mezzo-soprano, baritone and large orchestra was premiered at the 2013 Proms by the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
As a conductor, Adès appears regularly with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw, and Finnish Radio Orchestra. He was the inaugural Artistic Partner with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, with whom he premiered a Concerto for Piano and Orchestra with Kirill Gerstein as soloist in March 2019. Other recent works include Dawn, a chacony for orchestra at any distance (2020), Shanty – over the Sea for strings (2020) and Märchentänze for solo violin and piano/orchestra (2021). Air – Homage to Sibelius for violin and orchestra was premiered at the 2022 Lucerne Festival, where Adès was Composer-in-Residence. Adès has won numerous awards, including the 2015 Léonie Sonning Music Prize, the Leoš Janáček Award, and the Grawemeyer Award (2000), of which he was the youngest ever recipient. He was awarded a CBE in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours. Adès was Artistic Director of the Aldeburgh Festival from 1999 to 2008 and coaches piano and chamber music at the International Musicians Seminar, Prussia Cove.