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."