Aaron Jay Kernis Wins 2012 Nemmers Prize
Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis has been selected as the 2012 winner of the Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition at the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University, Dean Toni-Marie Montgomery announced today. In connection with the Nemmers Prize, Kernis will be in residence at Northwestern for four weeks each throughout the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons, during which time he will undertake various educational activities. The prize will be formally awarded to Kernis in a ceremony to take place during his final weeks at the University.
Previous recipients of the Nemmers Prize, which is given for "outstanding achievement in music," were John Adams, Oliver Knussen, Kaija Saariaho, and John Luther Adams. "I am thrilled and deeply grateful to receive the Nemmers Prize, and I thank the jury for this honor, which so generously recognizes a life's work of composing. It is indescribably gratifying to sense that one's dedication to creating new music can be meaningful to other people's lives, and extend communication among us. I have had many memorable experiences with Chicago's music groups in recent years; the area is becoming a center for the highest standards of new music performance and idea. It will be a great pleasure to work with the young musicians and faculty at the renowned Beinen School at Northwestern, and deeply excitingto have my work performed again by the Chicago Symphony," said Kernis.
The Nemmers Prize is the most recent of Kernis's many awards honoring the immensity of his contribution to American culture. Among the most esteemed musical figures of his generation, he was one of the youngest composers to win the Pulitzer Prize (in 1998), and has also received the prestigious Grawemeyer Award for Musical Composition, the Elise Stoeger Prize of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Rome Prize, and Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, among others. Forbes magazine reflected that Kernis may be "filling the shoes of the giants in the land (Ives, Ellington, Gershwin, Copland, Bernstein)... writing distinctive, vivid music in virtually every genre."
The Nemmers Prize comes fast on the heels of a season of Kernis in Chicago. He was the Chicago Chamber Musicians's featured composer at its last concert, which he also curated, and The Chicago Tribune hailed his da l'Arte del Danssar as "eclectic, rippling chamber music" at a recent performance on the Chicago Symphony's musicNOW series.
Kernis has been commissioned by major cultural organizations and artists, including sopranos Renee Fleming and Dawn Upshaw, violinists Joshua Bell and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, guitarist Sharon Isbin, pianist Emanuel Ax, the Walt Disney Company, Rose Center for Earth and Space at New York's Museum of Natural History, and most of America's leading orchestras, many others. Two seasons ago, Kernis celebrated his 50th birthday in style, with his monumental Symphony No. 3 (Symphony in Meditations), premiered by the Seattle Symphony, and a second performance of the work, which he conducted, with the Yale Symphony. Q2, WQXR's online contemporary classical and new music stream, devoted the second edition of its "Composer of the Month" feature to Kernis, airing over 30 of his works, including live broadcasts and radio premieres. Recent recordings include his dramatic and multi-colored Goblin Market with The New Professionals and conductor Rebecca Miller on Signum Classics, and an album of orchestral works by the Grant Park Festival Orchestra (Cedille). His music is also available on Nonesuch, Phoenix, New Albion, and many other labels. Forthcoming are new works for the New York Philharmonic and a consortium of American's "Top Ten college wind ensembles featuring trumpet soloist Philip Smith, eighth blackbird, cellist Joshua Roman, the Santa Fe, La Jolla Chamber Music Festivals and Chamber Music Northwest for David Shifrin, and the Orion Quartet. Mr. Kernis's music is published by AJK Music, administered by Associated Music Publishers.