Photo by NewMusicBox
The Seattle Symphony and violinist James Ehnes premiere a new violin concerto by American composer Aaron Jay Kernis on March 16, 17 and 18. Kernis shared with us about this piece, how he keeps the creative spark, his advice for young composers and what’s on the horizon.
It feels like a bold statement for me — at this stage — to say " I love ___ about my new work" since at this moment is still exists inside the head and the ears, and it's waiting to be brought to full life in the upcoming performances. So, ask me that in a few months! But I can say that I'm thrilled that it was written for James Ehnes, and the four partner orchestras with their terrific music directors. The concerto is truly a labor of love for all of them! (Especially James...)
Over the years I've written a lot of music for violin, but for me this concerto continues to push boundaries in violin technique and in the huge presence that the violin has throughout. James can play anything! But during the process I had a number of questions for him, and we worked in person and on the phone to answer them. (Now we can reach each other pretty much in any time zone via Skype, so that makes it easy). James edited very finely what I wrote to make it all possible while also keeping that sense of pushing the boundaries of virtuosity.
By taking long walks, visualizing musical ideas and improvising — anything to free the mind from pre-conceived limits or boundaries. If those don't work, there's always chocolate!
I really enjoy I Love Lucy, and have been revisiting it with my daughter (along with the Beatles). But for old TV shows, classic novels and the British Invasion to be my only diet? I'd miss the exhilaration of discovering new movies, books, all the very inventive TV writers and the brilliant crop of young composers coming up just now... Music is a vital art form, it's now, and I wouldn't want (or want other listeners) to miss any of the lively and stimulating work being made today.
I started because of an orchestral concert that I heard on the radio when I was 8. After that I began to seek out classical recordings, attend live concerts, sing, play the violin and begin to compose. My turning point as a composer was being part of a high school composition workshop when I was 13, finding my first composition teacher through that and learning how much I was compelled to express myself through music.
That would fill pages — but a few things I'd say (or would want to say): Write what you love. If you don't love what you write, how can you expect anyone else to care? Take risks. Avoid favoring the development of your intellect over heightening your intuition. Seek beauty, and especially develop the things that are unique to you.
I love to cook, eat, find new restaurants, read about cooking, eat chocolate, hang out with my kids, go to movies, read, travel and think about my next piece.
I'm particularly excited about a new cello and piano work for my cellist son and a new work for the fabulous young soprano Julia Bullock. But I'm beginning to look for opera ideas again, and hope to do more collaborative work and develop ideas a little outside of the mainstream too. I'm thrilled to be composing all the time!
James Ehnes premieres a new violin concerto by American composer Aaron Jay Kernis on March 16, 17 and 18.BUY TICKETS
Posted on February 10, 2017READ MORE BEYOND THE STAGE