Adams was cited by the selection committee for "his fusing of a wide range of styles into a voice entirely new and distinctive, and for his connection to and reflection of the world around us." As winner of the Nemmers Prize, he will serve a residency at Northwestern University and have one of his works performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in its 2005-2006 season.
"I am tremendously honored to be selected as the first composer to receive the Nemmers Prize in Musical Composition," said Adams. "It comes as both a surprise and a delight to know that my music is so highly regarded. I look forward to my residency at the Northwestern School of Music. Spending significant time with students is something I have missed very much in recent years."
Adams has been heralded worldwide for a unique style that harnesses the rhythmic energy of minimalism to the harmonies and orchestral colors of late Romanticism. He brought contemporary history to the opera house with his post-modern music theater works "Nixon in China" (1987) and "The Death of Klinghoffer" (1991), and has addressed urgent social issues in "I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky," "El Dorado" and "The Wound-Dresser."
Adams was awarded the 2003 Pulitzer Prize in Music for "On the Transmigration of Souls," a composition commissioned by the New York Philharmonic to commemorate the victims of the World Trade Center attacks. His works have been performed worldwide by great orchestras and opera companies, and are widely used by choreographers. He is the recipient of the 1995 Grawemeyer Award for his "Violin Concerto," and has had a long-term recording relationship with the Nonesuch label.
The three-member Nemmers Prize committee that selected Adams was comprised of individuals of widely recognized stature in the international music community.
The Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Musical Composition is made possible through a generous gift from the late Erwin E. Nemmers and Frederic E. Nemmers, who in 1994 enabled the creation of the Erwin Plein Nemmers Prize in Economics and the Frederic Esser Nemmers Prize in Mathematics, leading awards in those fields.