Jacob Adams

Violist • Teacher • Musicologist


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 performed at major venues around the world, including all three stages at Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, Boston’s Symphony Hall, Seattle’s Benaroya Hall, the Rudolfinium in Prague, and the El Escorial Palace in Spain. Jacob performed on the prized Amati instruments at the Smithsonian and appeared on stage with such diverse acts as the Kronos Quartet, Yo-Yo Ma, Suzanne Vega, Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, Diana Krall, and Cristian McBride, among many others. He has premiered new works by celebrated young composers, including Caroline Shaw, Ted Hearne, Jacob Cooper, and Martin Suckling. He is a regular guest with ensembles and orchestras around the country, including appearances with A Far Cry, Blueshift Ensemble, and the symphony orchestras of Santa Barbara, Mobile, Huntsville, and New Haven. Jacob has served as principal violist of the Tuscaloosa Symphony since 2015.

2017 engagements include a performance and lecture-recital at the 2017 International Viola Congress in Wellington, New Zealand, chamber concerts in Havana and with Manchester Summer Chamber Music, and Der Schwanendreher with the University of Alabama’s Huxford Symphony Orchestra. Other recent engagements include performances at Weill Hall (Carnegie Hall), Benaroya Hall (Seattle), the Rudolfinium (Prague), and at the 2016 American Viola Society Festival in Oberlin, OH. He is currently serving as chair of the 2018 American Viola Society Festival Program Submission committee.

Jacob’s debut album, “Czech Portraits,” was released in 2016 on the Centaur label, featuring original transcriptions of Janáček violin pieces as well as rarely heard works by Czech composers Otakar Zich and Ladislav Vycpálek with pianist Pascal Salomon. His article on Vycpálek’s Suite for Solo Viola was published in the Fall 2015 issue of the Journal for the American Viola Society. Jacob has co-commissioned with pianist Angela Draghicescu a new viola and piano work from composer William Bolcom, which will be premiered in 2018.

Chamber music highlights include performances with members of Camerata Pacifica, the Muir String Quartet, and the St. Petersburg String Quartet. Jacob was the violist of the critically acclaimed Vinca String Quartet, with whom he won special mention at the Borciani International Quartet Competition. As the founding violist of the Erato Quartet, he won top prize at the Coleman Chamber Music Competition. Jacob performs regularly with Manchester Summer Chamber Music.  Other summer festival appearances include the Aspen Music Festival, Tanglewood, the Music Academy of the West, and the Casalmaggiore International Music Festival.

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. In addition to his performance degrees, he earned his M.A. in Musicology from the University of California – Santa Barbara, where upon completing his D.M.A. he was named “Outstanding Graduate Student” by the Music Department.

Jacob held previous teaching positions at Yale University and the University of California – Santa Barbara. Recent master classes include University of Washington, University of Georgia, and University of Southern Mississippi. He appeared as a guest teacher and performer at other schools and festivals, including the Peabody Institute of Music, Occidental College, and the Chautauqua Institute. Jacob wrote program notes for the Yale Chamber Music Series, Yale at Carnegie Hall, Concordia Chamber Players, String Quartet Society of Tuscaloosa, and the Longy School of Music.

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 has taught music appreciation courses at multiple universities. In addition, 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.

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, in Tuscaloosa.