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Looking to the Future

Looking to the Future

(p.152) 8 Looking to the Future
Aaron Jay Kernis
Leta E. Miller
University of Illinois Press

This concluding chapter evaluates Aaron Jay Kernis's music. Critics have made much of his embrace of diversity, noting the influence of tonality and atonality, jazz, pop, and Baroque music, modernism and minimalism, intricate counterpoint and static ostinati—or as Mark Swed put it succinctly in 1995, “extravagance and eclecticism.” Kernis, however, resists the word eclecticism because implicit in it is the image of collage. Inclusivity, yes; a welcoming of diversity, certainly: but never with the aim of creating a static mixture, however bold it might be. Rather, Kernis's music—even in its slowest and most introverted manifestation—always emphasizes directionality. Moreover, the element of narrative is always present in his music. Hence the importance for Kernis of the motivating stimuli, be they political events, mosaics, life-cycle experiences, poetry, paintings, or simply an emotional state.

Keywords:   Aaron Jay Kernis, jazz, Baroque music, static ostinati, narrative, modernism, minimalism

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