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Courtney Lewis and Aaron Jay Kernis extend contracts with Minnesota Orchestra

Courtney Lewis
Minnesota Orchestra

The Minnesota Orchestral Association (MOA) announced today that Assistant Conductor Courtney Lewis and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis have signed new contracts with the Orchestra, giving Lewis the title of associate conductor for three seasons while extending Kernis’ tenure for another two years as director of the annual Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute.

Lewis became the Orchestra’s assistant conductor at the start of the 2009-10 season; his new appointment is effective September 2010. As associate conductor he will continue to lead a variety of Orchestra concerts including Young People’s, family and summer concerts, and he will serve as cover conductor for many regular season classical concerts.

“In his first season with the Orchestra, Courtney has led a very wide range of concerts and has proven himself to be a fine communicator and above all, a first-rate conductor,” says Robert Neu, the Orchestra’s vice president and general manager. “He has a very bright future, and we’re pleased to work with him at the start of his professional career.”

Kernis, who co-founded the Composer Institute in 2001, has enjoyed a close association with the Orchestra since 1992, and served for ten seasons as new music advisor. The Institute is an acclaimed professional launch pad for emerging symphonic composers that includes six days of seminars, rehearsals, tutoring sessions and other career-development activities.

“Aaron brings a wealth of knowledge and tremendous commitment to our Composer Institute,” says Music Director Osmo Vänskä, who conducts Future Classics, the annual concert of works selected for the Institute. “His mentorship of emerging composers is very important for the Orchestra, for new music and for our audiences. As an orchestra, we have a responsibility to take care of today’s music, and Aaron plays an invaluable role in this process.”