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Yolanda Kondonassis and Michael Sachs Release World Premiere Recording by Aaron Jay Kernis

World Premiere Recording of Aaron Jay Kernis' Elegy . . . for those we lost

Out Now on Azica Records

Listen on Spotify & Apple Music | |

Azica Records announces the September 17, 2021 release of Pulitzer Prize and GRAMMY award-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis’ Elegy . . . for those we lost as a single in digital format. This world premiere recording of the work is an arrangement for trumpet and harp performed by Michael Sachs, Principal Trumpet of The Cleveland Orchestra, and multiple GRAMMY-nominated harp soloist, Yolanda Kondonassis. Originally composed for solo piano, Kernis created this work as a powerful tribute to the families of beloved COVID-19 victims, “to give some measure of solace to families within a grief-filled musical poem,” according to Kernis.

Praised by The Cleveland Plain Dealer for their “heartfelt and organic performance,” Kondonassis and Sachs premiered the work – created especially for them – on June 3, 2021, as part of The Cleveland Orchestra’s In Focus Concert Series. Cleveland Classical wrote, "Moving from the meditative to the quasi-triumphant... [the performance] is sensitive and flawless," while Seen and Heard International asserted, “Sachs brings tremendous lyricism to the melodic lines, rising to cathartic full voice at the peak, while Kondonassis equals his energy, dispatching the more pianistic parts of the work, arpeggios and chords, with utter certainty.”

After contracting and recovering from COVID-19 early in the pandemic, Kernis felt moved to write a work memorializing the victims and paying tribute to the grieving families of all those lost to the disease. Kernis writes, “I strived to create music to counterpoint the terrible pandemic and honor the dead — to try to give some measure of solace to families by sharing a personal expression of grief.”

Kondonassis adds, “Kernis’ Elegy illuminates the emotional nuances of our collective experience in a manner that only music can do, taking us on an artful sonic journey that travels through the stages of deep sadness, resignation, despair, and rage, leading us towards hope, sublimation, resolve, acceptance, and finally peace.”

Elegy . . . for those we lost

Yolanda Kondonassis, harp | Michael Sachs, trumpet | Aaron Jay Kernis, composer

Release Date: September 17, 2021 | Azica Records

Recorded May 16, 2021 in Sauder Concert Hall at Goshen College | Recorded, produced, and mastered by Alan Bise

[1] Aaron Jay Kernis: Elegy . . . for those we lost [7:07]

About the Artists:

Aaron Jay Kernis draws artistic inspiration from a vast, surprising palette of sources. One of America's most honored composers, he has also won the Grawemeyer and Nemmers Awards. His music appears on major world stages, performed and commissioned by America‘s foremost artists and orchestras.

Yolanda Kondonassis is celebrated as one of the world’s premier harp soloists. She has performed around the globe as a concerto soloist and recitalist, and has sold hundreds of thousands of albums and downloads worldwide. Her critically acclaimed discography includes over twenty titles and numerous world premiere recordings. Also a published author, speaker, and environmental activist, she weaves her many passions into a vibrant and multi-faceted career. Kondonassis heads the harp departments at Oberlin Conservatory and the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Michael Sachs joined The Cleveland Orchestra as Principal Trumpet in 1988. His many performances as soloist with the Orchestra include the world premieres of John Williams’s Concerto for Trumpet and Michael Hersch’s Night Pieces for trumpet and orchestra. Sachs serves as head of the trumpet department at the Cleveland Institute of Music, is a member of the faculty at Northwestern University's Bienen School of Music, and presents masterclasses around the world.

Yolanda Kondonassis and Michael Sachs have been married since 1993. This project marks their first professional collaboration.

Photo by Laura Watilo Blake

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