Aaron Jay Kernis
Leta E. Miller University of Illinois Press, 2014 Library of Congress ML410.K386M55 2014 | Dewey Decimal 780.92
Winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and the Grawemeyer Award, Aaron Jay Kernis achieved recognition as one of the leading composers of his generation while still in his thirties. Since then his eloquent yet accessible style, emphasis on melody, and willingness to engage popular as well as classical forms has brought him widespread acclaim and admiring audiences.
Leta Miller's biography offers the first survey of the composer's life and work. Immersed in music by middle school, and later training under Theodore Antoniou, John Adams, Jacob Druckman, and others, Kernis rejected the idea of distancing his work from worldly concerns and composed on political themes. His Second Symphony, from 1991, engaged with the first Gulf War; 1993's Still Moment with Hymn was a reaction to the Bosnian Genocide; and the next year's Colored Field and 1995's Lament and Prayer dealt with the Holocaust. Yet Kernis also used sources as disparate as futurist agitprop and children's games to display humor in his work. Miller's analysis addresses not only Kernis's wide range of subjects but also the eclecticism that has baffled critics, analyzing his dedication to synthesis and the themes consistent in his work. Informed and engaging, Aaron Jay Kernis gives a rare mid-career portrait of a major American cultural figure.
Leta E. Miller and J. Michele Edwards University of Illinois Press, 2020
Chen Yi is the most prominent woman among the renowned group of new wave composers who came to the US from mainland China in the early 1980s. Known for her creative output and a distinctive merging of Chinese and Western influences, Chen built a musical language that references a breathtaking range of sources and crisscrosses geographical and musical borders without eradicating them.
Leta E. Miller and J. Michele Edwards provide an accessible guide to the composer's background and her more than 150 works. Extensive interviews with Chen complement in-depth analyses of selected pieces from Chen's solos for Western or Chinese instruments, chamber works, choral and vocal pieces, and compositions scored for wind ensemble, chamber orchestra, or full orchestra. The authors highlight Chen's compositional strategies, her artistic elaborations, and the voice that links her earliest and most recent music. A concluding discussion addresses questions related to Chen's music and issues such as gender, ethnicity and nationality, transnationalism, border crossing, diaspora, exoticism, and identity.
Leta E. Miller and Fredric Lieberman University of Illinois Press, 2010 Library of Congress ML410.H2066M54 2006 | Dewey Decimal 780.92
Music's inclusivity--its potential to unite cultures, disciplines, and individuals--defined the life and career of Lou Harrison (1917-2003). Beyond studying with avant-garde titans such as Henry Cowell and Arnold Schoenberg, he conducted Charles Ives's Pulitzer Prize-winning Third Symphony, staged high-profile percussion concerts with John Cage, and achieved fame for his distinctive blending of cultures--from the Chinese opera, Indonesian gamelan, and the music of Native Americans to modernist dissonant counterpoint.
Leta E. Miller and Fredric Lieberman take readers into Harrison's rich world of cross-fertilization through an exploration of his outspoken stance on pacifism, gay rights, ecology, and respect for minorities--all major influences on his musical works. Though Harrison was sometimes accused by contemporaries of "cultural appropriation," Miller and Lieberman make it clear why musicians and scholars alike now laud him as an imaginative pioneer for his integration of Asian and Western musics. They also delve into Harrison's work in the development of the percussion ensemble, his use of found and invented instruments, and his explorations of alternative tuning systems. An accompanying compact disc of representative recordings allows readers to examine Harrison's compositions in further detail.