This introductory chapter provides an overview of Aaron Jay Kernis's achievements. His current Schirmer catalog lists more than one hundred compositions: a dozen orchestral works; another dozen concerti with large orchestra or wind ensemble; a group of works for soloist with chamber orchestra; nearly two dozen compositions for two to six players and the same number of pieces for chorus; fourteen pieces for solo voice accompanied by piano or chamber groups; and a dozen compositions for keyboard. Quantity, however, is but one measure of achievement. In Kernis's case, quality has been repeatedly affirmed by a steady stream of awards and commissions, by the enthusiastic reception from renowned performers, and by the strong response his music elicits from audiences. Indeed, he has already won three major prizes coveted by contemporary composers: the Pulitzer Prize (1998), the Grawemeyer Award (2002), and the Nemmers Prize (2012).
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