APM: Composers Datebook
Jul 13, 2018 A new guitar concerto by Aaron Jay Kernis received its premiere at a Minnesota Orchestra “Sommerfest” concert conducted by David Alan Miller on today’s date in 1999. The idea for this concerto was prompted by a friend of Kernis’s, guitarist David Tanenbaum, who was looking for a new work for guitar and orchestra that he could pair with the most performed of all such works, Joaquín Rodrigo's “Concierto de Aranjuez,” which premiered back in 1940. For his new concerto, Kernis reworked parts of two earlier works he had composed for Tannenbaum: part of a Partita for solo guitar became the concerto’s opening movement, followed by two movements drawn from this Kernis chamber work for guitar and string quartet 100 Greatest Dance Hits. The middle movement, entitled "Slow Dance Ballad" is, says Kernis, "the kind of music my parents would like—what they hope to find on the radio dial." In its original form, as part of the chamber 100 Greatest Dance Hits, this movement was entitled “MOR, i.e. Middle of the Road: East Listening.” The concerto’s finale is entitled "Salsa Posada," a Spanish pun referring both to the craze for old fashioned salsa dancing and the condiment of the same name, perhaps a little “off” or past its prime. In writing his “Dance Hits,” Kernis explains he originally intended to imitate the pops sound of the 1990s, but found the passé pop styles of the 70s kept mentally intruding as he wrote.