Listen: Glorious Majesty


An archival recording of the world premiere, performed by VocalEssence under the direction of Philip Brunelle.

For information on performing this work or obtaining a perusal score, please contact SDG.

Additional performances

VocalEssence Heartland Tour

VocalEsssence Heartland Tour
February 28, March 1 and 2, 2014

Friday, February 28, 2014 at 8 pm
(as part of the American Choral Directors Association Central Division Conference)
St. Peter in Chains Cathedral
325 W. 8th Street, Cincinnati, Ohio

Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 7:30 pm
Edman Memorial Chapel, Wheaton College
418 N. Chase Street, Wheaton, Illinois
TICKETS: Wheaton College Artist Series

Sunday, March 2, 2014 at 3 pm
Rockefeller Chapel, University of Chicago
5850 S. Woodlawn Avenue, Chicago, Illinois
TICKETS: Rockefeller Memorial Chapel

About the composer

Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis studied composition in San Francisco, Manhattan and at Yale with John Adams, Jacob Druckman, Morton Subotnik, and Charles Wuorinen. He employed rigorous compositional processes until the early 1980s when a growing sense of intuitive freedom became increasingly evident in his work. From 1990 his style took on a new transparency and emotional eloquence, as in the exquisite Musica Celestis. In 1998 he became one of the youngest composers ever to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music. Kernis’s publisher describes his style as “a truly eclectic musical language, as willing to incorporate the influences of Latin rhythms, jazz and rap as to use harmonic worlds of the Romantic masters, the Renaissance and Hildegard von Bingen.”

For a complete biography, visit Kernis’s publisher’s website

Glorious Majesty

Aaron Jay Kernis

Aaron Jay Kernis
Glorious Majesty
Double mixed chorus (SSAATTBB), a cappella
DURATION: 9 minutes
TEXT: Psalm 104
A densely harmonic piece balancing sudden shifts with returns to calmer harmonies rooted in early church music.






World Premiere
October 2013
Philip Brunelle, conductor
Central Lutheran Church
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Pulitzer-prize winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis wrote his a cappella choral work Glorious Majesty for Soli Deo Gloria’s Psalms Project, a collection of fifteen contemporary musical works in the Western art-music tradition. The world premiere of Glorious Majesty, based on Psalm 104, was performed by VocalEssence’s 32-voice Ensemble Singers, conducted by Philip Brunelle, on October 27, 2013, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

In his concert program notes, Kernis described Psalm 104 as “overflowing with the glories of creation, earth, and the heavens.” Glorious Majesty is a work of contrasts, with sections performed by both large and small groups of singers, as well as shifting moods and harmonies,  “to highlight the distinction between passages in the text that praise God and those that praise God’s creation.”

“A lovely setting of a psalm … transporting.”—St. Paul Pioneer Press

“Shifting, shimmering dynamics.”—

“Kernis is a master at conveying the meaning of texts, capturing both the glorious praise to God and the earthy simplicity of the human enterprise.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

Aaron Jay Kernis has been recognized as one of the most esteemed musical figures of his generation, and his compositions have been performed by major orchestras around the world, including the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, and Minnesota Orchestra, as well internationally by such distinguished institutions as the BBC, Birmingham, Vancouver, and Frankfurt Radio Symphonies. Recently inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Kernis has received the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center's Stoeger Prize, Distinguished Alumni Award from Manhattan School of Music, Inaugural Honorary Music Citizen Award from BMI, and multiple Grammy nominations. Currently, he serves as a member of the Yale School of Music faculty and is Director of the Minnesota Orchestra’s Composers’ Institute.



The world premiere performance of Glorious Majesty, which opened the VocalEssence Minneapolis program, was described by reviewers as splendidly sung with “smoothly balanced ensemble work and layers of spirited solos.” (St. Paul Pioneer Press).

VocalEssence is known for its innovative exploration of music and has been described as “one of the irreplaceable music ensembles of our time” (Dana Gioia, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts).

Philip Brunelle
Philip Brunelle

The ensemble's conductor, Philip Brunelle, has been a guest conductor for choirs and orchestras across the United States, South America and Europe, including the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Berkshire Choral Festival, the BBC Singers and the Seattle Symphony.





VocalEssence will be presenting Glorious Majesty on its “Heartland Tour” of Illinois and Ohio in 2014. See sidebar for cities, dates and ticket information.