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Composers Aaron Jay Kernis and Martin Boykan elected to American Academy of Arts and Letters

March 23, 2011

Aaron Jay Kernis

The American Academy of Arts and Letters announced earlier this month that Aaron Jay Kernis ’83MM, a graduate of the Yale School of Music and a current member of the composition faculty, and alumnus Martin Boykan ’53MM are among the ten people recently elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

The Academy will hold its annual induction and award ceremony in mid-May. J. D. McClatchy, president of the Academy, will conduct the presentation of awards in architecture, art, literature, and music. Rosanna  Warren, Secretary of the Academy, will induct the new members into the 250-person organization: artists Walter De Maria, Sylvia Plimack Mangold, Malcolm Morley, James Turrell, and architect Robert A. M. Stern; writers Louis Begley, Michael Cunningham, and Rita Dove; and composers Martin Boykan and Aaron Jay Kernis.

President McClatchy will induct choreographer Bill T. Jones to American Honorary membership and writers Anne Carson and Elfriede Jelinek and artist William Kentridge to Foreign Honorary membership. Rocco Landesman, the chairman of the NEA, will deliver the Blashfield Foundation Address, titled “The Play’s the Thing.” An exhibition of art, architecture, books, and manuscripts by new members and recipients of awards will be on view in the Academy’s galleries from May 19 to June 12.

Martin Boykan

Composer Martin Boykan was born in New York City in 1931 and was educated at Harvard College and Yale University. He is Professor Emeritus at Brandeis University. Known particularly for his chamber music, he received the Jeunesse musicales award for his String Quartet No. 1 in 1967, and the League-ISCM award for Elegy in 1982. Other awards include a Rockefeller grant (1974), NEA award (1983), Guggenheim Fellowship (1984), and two Fulbrights (1953–55). In 1994 he was awarded a Senior Fulbright to Israel. He has received numerous commissions from chamber ensembles as well as commissions from the Koussevitsky Foundation in the Library of Congress (1985), and the Fromm Foundation (1976). Recent works include a concerto for violin and piano; Second Chances; and Soliloquies for an Insomniac.

Composer Aaron Jay Kernis was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1960. He was educated at San Francisco Conservatory, Manhattan School of Music, and Yale University, and has received both the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition and the Pulitzer Prize in Music. He co-runs the Minnesota Orchestra’s Composer Institute and teaches composition at the Yale School of Music. His recent orchestral works include Goblin Market, Air, Lament and Prayer, the String Quartet No. 2 (“musica instrumentalis”), and Colored Field.

The American Academy of Arts and Letters was established in 1898 to “foster, assist, and sustain an interest in literature, music, and the fine arts,” and is chartered by Congress. Founding members include William Merritt Chase, Kenyon Cox, Daniel Chester French, Childe Hassam, Henry James, Theodore Roosevelt, Elihu Vedder, and Woodrow Wilson. Each year, the Academy gives approximately one million dollars in awards to artists, architects, writers, and composers. It presents exhibitions of art, architecture, and manuscripts, and subsidizes readings and performances of new musicals. The 113-year-old organization is located in three landmark buildings, designed by McKim, Mead & White, Cass Gilbert, and Charles Pratt Huntington, on Audubon Terrace at 155 Street and Broadway.

View PDF of the press release from the American Academy of Arts and Letters