music.minnesota.publicradio.orgSaint Paul Chamber Orchestra

Aaron Jay Kernis

Aaron KernisAaron Jay Kernis, one of the nation's most gifted young composers, begins his third year as The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra's composer-in-residence with two of his compositions receiving premieres on the SPCO's 1995-96 subscription season.

Described as a composer of engaging wit and expressive lyricism, Kernis first became known to Twin Cities audiences under the leadership of SPCO Creative Chair John Adams in 1988, when the SPCO commissioned Kernis to compose a work for chamber orchestra. The 26-minute Symphony in Waves that emerged was performed in St. Paul and Chicago during the 1991-92 season to enthusiastic acclaim. In March 1994, Kernis' Still Movement with Hymn was premiered on Minnesota Public Radio's highly-acclaimed- weekly program, "Saint Paul Sunday Morning," and in November his humorous Le Quattro Stagioni Dalla Cucina Futurismo ("The Four Seasons of Futuristic Cuisine") was performed by the SPCO on its Chamber Music series and Simple Songs was featured on its Masterworks series.

During his residency, Kernis is composing several works for the SPCO and is involved in the Chamber Orchestra's innovative education program, CONNECT. In the 1995-96 season, Kernis' much-anticipated "Double Concerto for Violin and Guitar," featuring Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and Sharon lsbin, is given its world premiere with the SPCO. The Chamber Orchestra also presents the U.S. premiere of Kernis' acclaimed Goblin Market, which received rave reviews at its January 1995 London world premiere, with London's The Guardian calling Kernis "a remarkable composer" and the Times predicting that "Kernis should have opera managements queueing at his door with commissions."

Kernis' works range from vocal to chamber to symphonic. Using a diversity of styles, ideas and impressions, his music conveys a spectrum of moods and emotions ranging from ecstatic to comic, to bieak and unremitting. In addition to his work with the SPCO, Kernis has recently written a critically acclaimed English horn concerto, "Colored Field," for the San Francisco Symphony, and his New Dance Era, composed for the New York Philharmonic's 150th anniversary, was premiered in April 1994.

One of the most highly regarded young American composers, Kernis has been awarded a Stoeger Prize from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, a Bearns Prize, an NEA grant, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Tippett Award, a New York Foundation for the Arts Award, a Rome Prize, and awards from BMI and ASCAP. Recordings of his music include his String Quartet by the Lark Quartet and Symphony in Waves on the Argo label, and three vocal works by Composer Recordings, Inc. (CRI) In April 1995 Hugh Wolff and the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra will record three works by Kernis on Argo.

Born in Philadelphia in 1960, Aaron Jay Kernis became serious about music when he was 12 years old. He taught himself piano and, in the following year, composition. Kernis continued his musical studies at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Manhattan School of Music, Yale School of Music and the American Academy in Rome, working with composers as diverse as John Adams, Charles Wuorinen, Jacob Druckman and Harrison Birtwhistle. Kernis received national acclaim for his first orchestral work, Dream of the Moming Sky, premiered by the New York Philharmonic at the 1983 Horizons Festival.

Kernis's upcoming commissions include a large orchestral work for the Chicago Symphony, a composition for violin and piano for Joshua Bell, a work for violin and string orchestra for Pamela Frank, and a cello concerto for Yo-Yo Ma.

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