Aaron Jay Kernis Completes SDG Commission

Aaron Jay Kernis

Pulitzer-prize winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis has completed an a cappella choral work commissioned by Soli Deo Gloria for the Psalms Project, a collection of 15 contemporary musical works in the Western art-music tradition. The world premiere of Glorious Majesty, based on Psalm 104, will be performed by VocalEssence, conducted by Philip Brunelle, on October 27, 2013, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.



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.


"With each new work and new recording, Kernis solidifies his position as the most important traditional-minded composer of his generation … no one else is writing music quite this vivid or powerfully direct."—The San Francisco Chronicle

 “Arresting … remarkable …  fearless originality … [a] powerful voice.—The New York Times


Vocal Essence
Philip Brunelle, conductor
Photo: Ann Marsden

World Premiere

Aaron Jay Kernis

Glorious Majesty (Psalm 104)

October 27, 2013 at 4:00 p.m.

Central Lutheran Church (NOTE CHANGE OF VENUE!)

333 South 12 Street

Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404


For ticket information, visit the VocalEssence website or call 800-292-4141.




         Philip Brunelle
  Philip Brunelle

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). The ensemble's conductor, Philip Brunelle, has been invited to guest conduct 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.


Program Notes

"Psalm 104 is a voluminous text filled to overflowing with the glories of creation, earth and of the heavens. It begins and ends with God in the Universe, then describes the creation of the heavens, nature, the creatures of the earth and humankind. It celebrates our sacred relationship to the Divine and all life on Earth, closing with praise for God and all of life.

"It was a challenge to compress this text for this piece, but I tried to keep the entirety of it in mind while choosing the sections I found most evocative for a choral setting. Contrasting sections with large and small groups of singers heighten the alternation between praise of God and of God’s creation.

"It looks for balance between the harmonically stable and wayward — often shifting mode suddenly, then returning to calmer harmonies that show roots in early church music. This version of Psalm 104 comes from the 1535 edition of Miles Coverdale in a modernization from 2000 by William S. Peterson.

"I am thrilled that Philip Brunelle and the Ensemble Singers are giving the world premiere of this work in Minneapolis, my longtime second musical home. I have enjoyed such a fruitful and warm relationship with them over the years, and am delighted to be back with them today.

"Glorious Majesty was generously commissioned by Soli Deo Gloria, as part of their Psalms Project, made possible by a grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc. At the heart of Soli Deo Gloria’s mission is the commissioning of new sacred music from the world’s leading composers, and in addition sponsors sacred music concerts and recordings around the world.

Glorious Majesty was composed in honor, and in loving memory of Anita Nelson."

—Aaron Jay Kernis


VocalEssence Heartland Tour

In 2014, VocalEssence will be traveling throughout the Midwest for a “Heartland Tour,” which will include the performance of Glorious Majesty in three locations:

Friday, February 28, 2014 at 8 pm
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

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

Tickets for Heartland Tour concerts will be available on the VocalEssence website.


The Soli Deo Gloria Psalms Project is made possible by a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.