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Aaron Jay Kernis

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Trio in Red (2001)
Trio in Red was generously commissioned by Wharton Center for the Performing Arts, Michigan State University, for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, David Shifrin, Artistic Director
AMP and AJK Music
Small Ensemble (2-6 players)
Sub Category
Piano Trio
Year Composed
16 Minutes
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Programme Note
Aaron Jay Kernis Trio in Red (2001)

8 November 2001
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI

Composer Note:
At times, while composing or preparing to write, I experience various degrees of internal color perception — synesthesia — brought about by my feelings for harmony and the sensations that chords in their myriad qualities evoke. The qualities of instrumental sound I imagine also bring about this color sensitivity, which can be subtly evoked as well by personal qualities of musicians I’m composing for.

In writing this piece I imagined various shades of red; from lightly-tinted near-orange to deep maroon and blood-stained reddish black. In fact, the original title of the work was Seeing Red. This not only refers to the color but to an expression of the state of controlled rage just before control can break down.

The moods of the first movement, Orange Circle, Yellow Line, tend to reflect the more modest shades and moods that those colors in combination create. It is a mostly lyrical slow movement with occasional bursts of turbulence, and essentially features a long musical line and expansive structure. Red Whirl is a dance movement of unrelenting motion, a danse macabre, (or "dance of death") influenced by the whirling of fast klezmer music.

Trio in Red was composed between July 2000 and March 2001, and was generously commissioned by the Wharton Center for the Performing Arts at Michigan State University for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, David Shifrin, Music Director. It is dedicated to David Shifrin, Fred Sherry and Ann-Marie McDermott, who gave the premiere performance on 8 November 2001, at Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan.

— Aaron Jay Kernis

"The appeal of his music is clear: he is an eclectic composer who seems to draw on everything from pop forms to the most abstruse modernist styles, and he uses these disparate elements to create works that are colorful and inviting but never simplistic...Mr. Kernis's thoughtful use of instrumental timbre combined with his penchant for long, winding lines and often surprising juxtapositions of consonance and dissonance go a long way toward evoking pictures (or at least, combinations of color and geometry) as well."
Allan Kozinn, New York Times,06/12/2001
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