Aaron Jay Kernis by Leta E. Miller

By Leta E. Miller

Winner of either the Pulitzer Prize and the Grawemeyer Award, Aaron Jay Kernis accomplished popularity as one of many major composers of his iteration whereas nonetheless in his thirties. considering the fact that then his eloquent but obtainable type, emphasis on melody, and willingness to interact renowned in addition to classical kinds has introduced him frequent acclaim and admiring audiences. Leta Miller's biography bargains the 1st survey of the composer's lifestyles and paintings. Immersed in tune by way of heart institution, and later education below Theodore Antoniou, John Adams, Jacob Druckman, and others, Kernis rejected the assumption of distancing his paintings from worldly matters and dared to compose on political topics. His moment Symphony , from 1991, engaged with the 1st Gulf battle; 1993's nonetheless second with Hymn was once a response to the Bosnian Genocide; and the following year's coloured box and 1995's Lament and Prayer handled the Holocaust. but Kernis extensively utilized resources as disparate as futurist agitprop and kid's video games to...

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7 The conductor explained that his original intention “was to let you, the audience, participate in … the first meeting that we have on stage with a young composer’s work,” but after seeing the complexities of the two scores, he “didn’t dare” attempt the task for the first time in public—a confession the audience greeted with sympathetic laughter. After Druckman introduced the program, Kernis gave the audience a succinct two-minute summary of his work’s aesthetics. “Dream of the morning sky,” he said, moves from the amorphous to the concrete on both a musical and a metaphysical plane.

The essay, though clearly a youthful work, nevertheless shows a surprisingly realistic assessment of the difficulties of a career in composition. The comment about writing music “accessible to the public” is also telling: Kernis’s primary aim was then, and continues to be, meaningful communication with his listeners. Following closely on the heels of the PMA event came a scholarship to the Pennsylvania Governor’s School of the Arts, a six-week summer program at Bucknell University. During his attendance there in 1975, Kernis again interacted with Antoniou.

7 The dramatic expression of Kernis’s compositions stands in contrast to his unobtrusive demeanor. He speaks slowly, quietly, and thoughtfully. Yet behind the calm exterior lies a powerful musical voice that has created some of the most forceful music of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Each work, he says, is a transformation, and his task lies in taking his audiences on a journey: “I think of myself as a communicator. ”8 2 Learning the Craft Early Years and Training (1960–1983) AARON JAY KERNIS WAS BORN on January 15, 1960, in Philadelphia.

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