Lauded for his “engaging” performances and his “expressive and intense” playing (American Record Guide), violist Jacob Adams is Assistant Professor of Viola at the University of Alabama. Since making his solo debut with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra at age 17, he has taught and performed as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral player across four continents. He has premiered new works by celebrated composers, including Caroline Shaw and William Bolcom. A regular performer with orchestras around the country, Jacob serves as principal violist of the Tuscaloosa Symphony and plays regularly with the symphony orchestras of Mobile, Huntsville, New Haven, and Santa Barbara.
Recent engagements include performances and presentations at the 2018 American Viola Society Festival in Los Angeles, the 2018 ASTA National Conference in Atlanta, the 2017 International Viola Congress in Wellington, New Zealand, and the 2016 American Viola Society Festival in Oberlin. Recent chamber concerts and recital appearances include on faculty concerts at the Brevard Music Center, Merkin Hall (New York), San Felipe Neri (Havana), Weill Hall (Carnegie Hall), Benaroya Hall (Seattle), the Rudolfinium (Prague), and with Manchester Summer Chamber Music. In 2017, Jacob performed Hindemith’s Der Schwanendreher with Maestro Blake Richardson and the University of Alabama’s Huxford Symphony Orchestra.
Jacob premiered a new viola and piano work from composer William Bolcom, Dark Dreams That Do Not Disappear, in 2018. Co-commissioned with pianist Angela Draghicescu, it is Bolcom’s first concert work featuring viola. Jacob’s debut album, “Czech Portraits,” featuring original transcriptions of Janáček violin pieces and rarely heard works by Czech composers Otakar Zich and Ladislav Vycpálek, is available on Centaur. His article on Vycpálek’s Suite for Solo Viola is published in the Journal for the American Viola Society.
Jacob has appeared on stage with such diverse acts as A Far Cry, Yo-Yo Ma, Suzanne Vega, Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, and The Temptations, among others. Additional chamber music highlights include performances with Camerata Pacifica, the Muir String Quartet, and the St. Petersburg String Quartet. Jacob was the violist of the critically acclaimed Vinca String Quartet, which won special mention at the 2008 Borciani International Quartet Competition. Prior to that he was the founding violist of the Erato Quartet, which won top prize at the 2001 Coleman Chamber Music Competition.
A dedicated teacher, Jacob has been featured in the “technique corner” of The Strad and in Teacher’s Toolbox videos for the American Viola Society website. Recent guest master classes include University of Tennessee, Louisiana State University, University of Washington, University of Georgia, and University of Southern Mississippi. He currently serves as a board member with the American Viola Society.
Jacob is passionate about sharing the joy and relevance of music to audiences and students regardless of age, background, or knowledge base. To that end, he served for four years as orchestra conductor and strings teacher for iCAN (Incredible Children’s Art Network), an after-school free access music program based in Santa Barbara, CA. While in the Vinca Quartet, Jacob co-founded the non-profit organization Music Haven to bring music access to underprivileged neighborhoods in New Haven, CT. Jacob coordinated the volunteer music programs for Santa Barbara Partners in Education, served as the Instrumental Program Coordinator at the Music Academy of the West, and worked as program annotator for the Yale School of Music.
Jacob is a graduate of Oberlin Conservatory, Yale School of Music, and University of California – Santa Barbara. His teachers include Helen Callus, Jesse Levine, Roger Chase, Roland Vamos, Masao Kawasaki, and Catharine Carroll Lees. In addition to his performance degrees, Jacob earned an M.A. in Musicology from the University of California – Santa Barbara. Upon completing his D.M.A., he was named “Outstanding Graduate Student” by the UCSB Music Department.
In his spare time, Jacob is likely to be found hiking, cooking, bowling (high score: 289), or following his beloved Cincinnati sports teams. He lives with his wife, Shannon McCue, and their son, Isaac, in Tuscaloosa.