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Julia Adolphe


Julia Adolphe’s music has been described as “alive with invention” (Alex Ross, The New Yorker), “colorful, mercurial, deftly orchestrated” (Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times) and a “mastery of dynamic as well as harmonic complexity” (Financial Times). Adolphe’s works are performed across the U.S. and abroad by renowned ensembles such as the New York Philharmonic, North Carolina Symphony, James Conlon and the Cincinnati May Festival Chorus, Inscape Chamber Orchestra, the Serafin String Quartet, Grammy-nominated pianist Aron Kallay, and Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, among others. Her awards include a 2016 Lincoln Center Emerging Artists Award, a 2016 OPERA America Discovery Grant, and a 2015 Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Adolphe is a native New Yorker living in Los Angeles.

Current commissions include Unearth, Release, a viola concerto for the New York Philharmonic and Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps, and a new work for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra to premiere in March 2017. Unearth, Release, to be conducted by newly appointed Music Director Jaap van Zweden, follows on the heels of the New York Philharmonic premiering Adolphe’s orchestral work Dark Sand, Sifting Light as part of the 2014 NY PHIL BIENNIAL. A winner of the international EarShot New Music Readings’ competition, Adolphe’s first orchestral work was hailed as “remarkably assured…an upbeat to something grander” (The New Yorker).

Adolphe’s chamber opera, SYLVIA, received its concert premiere at New York City’s Bargemusic in March 2013 in a set of performances produced by the composer herself. Based on her original story and libretto, Adolphe composed and produced a workshop of SYLVIAin April 2012 at the Lost Studio theater in Los Angeles. An excerpt of the one-act opera was subsequently performed at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust and called “ambitious and defiantly audacious,” (Out West Arts). In New York, SYLVIAwas hailed as “a short, sharp, powerful opera…searingly vivid,” (eMusic) presented “with great clarity, composer and librettist Julia Adolphe encapsulates Sylvia’s dilemma in a plaintive cry.” (cityArts, NY).

Adolphe is also an active writer, teacher, and producer. In 2014, NewMusicBox published Adolphe’s articles on teaching music in an all-male maximum security prison. In 2013, Adolphe was co-producer of The Prodigal Son conducted by James Conlon for the LA Opera Britten Centennial. As a USC Teaching Assistant, Adolphe taught courses in the History of the Beatles and Classic Rock. Adolphe currently pursues a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the USC Thornton School of Music. Prior teachers include Steven Stucky and Stephen Hartke. Adolphe holds a Master of Music degree in music composition from USC and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and the College Scholar Program from Cornell University.

Articles by Julia Adolphe:

NewMusicBox April 14 2021 | By Julia Adolphe
Daniela Candillari: Creative Blessings in Disguise

Conductor and composer Daniela Candillari reflects on her personal experience with performance anxiety, how emotion shapes our perception of time, and why her memories of living through the wars in...

NewMusicBox March 24 2021 | By Julia Adolphe
Cindy Lam: Voicing Trauma and Connecting with Your Inner Child

Pianist and Music Educator Cindy Lam shares her experience of PTSD, the stigma surrounding mental health challenges within Asian-American circles, and reflects on the escalating hate crimes against the AAPI...

NewMusicBox March 10 2021 | By Julia Adolphe
Sarah Kirkland Snider: Illuminating Anxiety, Creative Process & Nurturing Support

Composer Sarah Kirkland Snider shares her experience with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder and how they impact her creative process.

NewMusicBox February 24 2021 | By Julia Adolphe
Creating Safe Spaces and Asking for Help

Julia Adolphe shares why she started this project, and how her composition professor, Steven Stucky, created a safe space for her to talk during lessons.

NewMusicBox February 10 2021 | By Julia Adolphe
Introducing LooseLeaf NoteBook – A Podcast on Creativity and Mental Health

In the midst of the pandemic, national protests against systemic racism, increasing threats of domestic terrorism, and going stir crazy in my living room, I started the podcast at first...

Articles November 24 2014 | By Julia Adolphe
Incarceration and Musical Inspiration Part Four: The Last Class

After today, I would never know if a student went on to accomplish something, continue his education, or even be released from prison. I realized as I distributed the scores...

Articles November 17 2014 | By Julia Adolphe
Incarceration and Musical Inspiration Part Three: A Live Concert in Prison

We tried to describe what different instruments looked like and we realized that what we needed was a live concert. There was great concern among the prison administration that the...

Articles November 10 2014 | By Julia Adolphe
Incarceration and Musical Inspiration Part Two: The Human Piano

It was shockingly easy to forget, in the midst of the classroom environment, that the majority of the students were serving life sentences for committing horrendous acts. I reminded myself...

Articles November 3 2014 | By Julia Adolphe
Incarceration and Musical Inspiration Part One: Meeting the Men at Auburn’s Maximum Security Prison

Imagine a class where every student feels it is a privilege to learn, yearns to participate and be heard, and absorbs all of the material with passionate curiosity. Within the...