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Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Tuesday, December 15

Kernis' "Color Wheel"

Synopsis

A color wheel is a circular chart showing the relationship of the colors of the spectrum. It was originally fashioned by Sir Isaac Newton back in 1666, and still serves as a useful tool for painters and graphic designers today.

“Color Wheel” is also the title of an orchestral showpiece by the American composer Aaron Jay Kernis–a work that premiered on today’s date in 2001 by the Philadelphia Orchestra at the opening concerts of the then brand-new Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia.

“The honor of being asked to compose the first music played in this new hall led me to conceive of a ‘miniature’ concerto for orchestra which treats it as a large and dynamic body of sound and color,” said Kernis.

“I sometimes see colors when I compose,” Kernis confessed, “and the qualities of certain chords do elicit specific sensation in me—for example, I see A major as bright yellow. I’ve also been fascinated with Sufi whirling dervishes and their ecstatic spinning. This work may have some ecstatic moments but it is full of tension, continuous energy and drive.

Music Played in Today's Program

Aaron Jay Kernis (b. 1960) Color Wheel Nashville Symphony; Giancarlo Guerrero, cond. Naxos 8.559838

Additional Information

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