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Nashville Symphony And Giancarlo Guerrero Kick Off String Of New Releases On Naxos

Nashville Symphony And Giancarlo Guerrero Kick Off String Of New Releases On Naxos

On June 12, 2020, Naxos will release Giancarlo Guerrero and the Nashville Symphony's world premiere recordings of music by Pulitzer-, GRAMMY- and Grawemeyer-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis (b. 1960). The album is the first of three new recordings of American music to be released on Naxos this summer from the GRAMMY-winning artists. Titles dedicated to music by the late Christopher Rouse and by Tobias Picker will be released in July and August, respectively.

Both Color Wheel and Symphony No. 4, "Chromelodeon," are inspired by the concept of color. Though written more than 15 years apart, the two works are like related family members - one brash and exuberant, the other more serious and pensive in intent, though no less bold in manner. The idea of color is especially significant in Kernis' work, as the composer has synesthesia, a condition that associates specific notes and chords with distinct colors.

Color Wheel was composed for the Philadelphia Orchestra's centennial and the opening of Verizon Hall at Kimmel Center in Kernis' hometown of Philadelphia. This "miniature" concerto - inspired by the tool artists and designers use to show relationships between colors - treats the orchestra as a large and dynamic body of sound and color, with a wide array of contrasts in dynamics and sounds in what Kernis hoped would be "a vivid new musical experience." The work features the virtuosity of the orchestra's larger sections (winds, strings, brass, percussion) and focuses on distinct groups of instruments separately and in combination, rather than on individual soloists.

The Fourth Symphony by Aaron Jay Kernis was commissioned to mark the 150th anniversary of the New England Conservatory of Music's founding - with the Nashville Symphony and Bellingham Festival of Music as co-commissioners with the NEC. Given the occasion, Kernis chose to address the power of the orchestra itself, and of the musicians who comprise it. The title "Chromelodeon" comes from an unusual word coined by maverick American composer Harry Partch to describe one of his musical inventions. As defined by Kernis, this term aptly describes his own creation here: "chromatic, colorful, melodic music performed by an orchestra."

In "Chromelodeon," no one color emerges more strongly than any other - the impression this music creates is similar to that of a kaleidoscope, with its unpredictable variety. "With a piece as big and varied as this," says Kernis, "the orchestra becomes a sort of vehicle for color and combinations."

"Aaron Jay Kernis has been a colleague and friend for 20 years," says Nashville Symphony Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero. "We met when he was the new music advisor for the Minnesota Orchestra, where I was Associate Conductor, and now we are lucky to have him as the director of the Nashville Symphony's Composer Lab & Workshop.

"Aaron has been influenced by different musical genres, from Bach to hip-hop," Guerrero continues. "This curiosity has always attracted me to his music. There is so much melodic and timbral material, as well as a very clear rhythmic drive. Both of the works on this recording require a very large orchestra, but even with this many players onstage, he has the unique ability to present full sonic transparency. He is a master of color and orchestration who demands high virtuosity from the performers. Those of us who are fortunate enough to play his music feel a great sense of accomplishment at the end of any of his pieces."

In its review of the Nashville Symphony's 2018 premiere of Symphony No. 4, "Chromelodeon," American Record Guide observed, "In recent years, the Nashville Symphony has worked hard to cultivate two distinct audiences. The first is its local following, music-loving Nashvillians who pack the ensemble's acoustically marvelous Schermerhorn Symphony Center week after week to hear riveting renditions of the classics. The second is an international assortment of aficionados, new music connoisseurs attracted to the orchestra's growing catalog of contemporary American works on the Naxos label.... [Kernis Symphony No. 4] is dauntingly difficult music, to be sure, and Guerrero and his musicians played every note with polish, color, and deep emotion."

On July 24, Naxos will release an album of works by the beloved Pulitzer and GRAMMY award-winning composer Christopher Rouse, recorded shortly before the composer's death, which will include his Symphony No. 5 and the powerhouse Concerto for Orchestra. Due out August 28, the third release this summer from the Nashville Symphony and Giancarlo Guerrero on Naxos' vital American Classics series will be Tobias Picker's opera-inspired works for orchestra, The Encantadas and Opera Without Words, the latter co-commissioned by the Nashville and National Symphonies.

In 2000, the Nashville Symphony and late music director Kenneth Schermerhorn released their first album with Naxos - a collection of works by Howard Hanson - at a time when few other American orchestras were regularly recording. Over the past two decades, the Symphony has gone on to add another 30 landmark recordings to the Naxos catalogue, which have to date received 25 GRAMMY nominations, and won 13 GRAMMY Awards and international critical acclaim.

"I am pleased to congratulate Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero and the Nashville Symphony for our continuing partnership that is now celebrating its 20th year," says Klaus Heymann, founder and Chairman of Naxos Music Group. "These recordings are a unique legacy for both the orchestra and Naxos, and are a great contribution to celebrating the richness and variety of American music. I look forward to many more fine recordings, as well as further awards that recognize the excellence of the Nashville Symphony."


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