H. Leslie Adams, Jr. (b. December 30, 1932) is an important African American composer, teacher and conductor. Born in Cleveland, Ohio to Harrison L. Adams, Sr. and Jessie Adams, Leslie received his early musical training in Cleveland from Dorothy Smith and Mina Eichenbaum. Adams attended Oberlin College (1951-55) to pursue a degree in Music Education. There he studied composition under Herbert Elwell and Joseph Wood. After completing his degree, Adams traveled to New York City to work as a composer, teacher and accompanist (1957-63). He received a Masters in Music from California State University at Long Beach (1965-1967). After completing the degree, Adams became a professor in Florida before beginning his Doctoral Degree from Ohio State University (1969-1971). Even before Adams completed his degree at Ohio State, he became an Associate Professor of Music and Director of the University Concert Choir at the University of Kansas (1970-1979). There he taught courses in music education.
After teaching several years at the University of Kansas, Adams went on sabbatical to focus on his compositions and did not return to the University, but rather became a free-lance composer. Adams moved back to Cleveland to compose after spending a residency at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Study and Conference Center in Bellagio, Italy. During his career as a composer, several orchestras and ensembles commissioned Adams to compose pieces, including the Cleveland Orchestra for which he wrote, Western Adventure. Along with spending time composing, Adams became an important contributor to the Cleveland public schools by participating in programs to promote the arts.
As a way to promote his work, Adams formed Accord Associates (1980-1991), a non-profit company. Accord Associates quickly grew and began promoting all African American composers in the United States. Accord Associates was eventually disbanded and Adams started Haridam, Inc., a for-profit company designed to solely promote Adams work. The main project for both Accord Associates and Haridam, Inc. was to promote the production of Blake, the opera composed by Adams in 1984.
Throughout his life, Adams conducted and participated in church music in every city he lived in. He was very active in the church throughout his life and contributed to many church music programs throughout the country. Currently Adams resides in Cleveland and continues to compose.
Adams’ compositions include songs, choir pieces, orchestral pieces, chamber works, concertos, pieces for solo instruments, and an opera.
The collection chronicles the life of composer H. Leslie Adams, Jr. Material included in the collection consists of Adams’ papers, correspondences, manuscripts, recordings, and artifacts. His papers include recital programs, photographs, course work, and other important papers representing his career as a musician, teacher, and composer.
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