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, Seated Ovation). He has been honored with awards, grants and commissions from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the ASCAP and BMI Foundations, the American Composers Forum, New Music USA and the Aspen Music Festival, as well as residencies at Yaddo and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.
Among Adashi’s recent works is Rise, a collaboration with the poet Tameka Cage Conley. The forty-minute piece for double choir and chamber ensemble, which bears witness to America’s fraught civil rights journey from Selma to Ferguson and beyond, was praised for its “strong words [and] clear music” (Anne Midgette, Washington Post). The work’s opening movement was recorded and released in May 2015, with all proceeds going to the family of 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, 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, 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 students in Baltimore City schools, 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.”
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 fiancée and frequent collaborator, cellist Lavena Johanson.