John David Lamb was born in 1935 and grew up in Yakima, Washington. He began to compose when he was six years old, having discovered staff-lined pages in the exercise book where his piano teacher wrote his scales and finger exercises. Since then he has composed in many forms: works for solo instruments, small ensembles, dramatic works, including works to be performed by children; songs, including the occasional civil rights protest song; as well as larger compositions for band and for orchestra.
Lamb earned academic degrees in music composition and conducting, but among his most important influences have been independent study with the Latvian nationalist composer Volfgangs Darzins and traditional Swedish folk music and dance. He has written some 150 fiddle tunes in the Swedish style. Some of these commemorate special events and many are played for dancing.
His works have been performed by the Portland Junior Symphony, the Northwest Chamber Orchestra, the Yakima Symphony Orchestra, the Kronos Quartet, the Brass Band Northwest, Thalia, saxophone ensembles throughout the United States and Europe, and a number of smaller groups. In 2003, Philharmonia Northwest performed his In Taberna. For more than ten years, Lamb has been a regular attendee at Colorado MahlerFest in Boulder, Colorado. For the 2006 festival, he was asked to compose a fanfare for orchestra to celebrate the gold medal awarded to MahlerFest by the International Gustav Mahler Society in Vienna, Austria. In February 2007, the Philharmonia Northwest performed his Song & Dance, a chamber concerto for horn and orchestra.
Lamb's recording company, Näckens Vänner, has produced five CDs: The Saxophone Project, with compositions for saxophone solo and quartet; Callithumpian Concert; Bird's Eye View; Bon appétit!, and Late Harvest. The saxophonists are from the East Coast; the musicians on the latter four CDs are from local organizations, including the Seattle Symphony, the Northwest Chamber Orchestra, and the Esoterics.