Aaron Jay Kernis' two-year composer residency with Astral Artists came to an official end Sunday and appears to have had a significant impact on every possible party.
For the composer, now 51, Astral's series of concerts, rehearsals, and outreach programs represented a return to his native Philadelphia under lower-pressure circumstances, than, say, the 2001 opening of the Kimmel Center, for which he wrote the piece Color Wheel for the Philadelphia Orchestra.
The postgraduate Astral Artists musicians no doubt grew from having firsthand access to his celebrated musical mind that follows Leonard Bernstein's example of mixing high art and popular culture.
The audience - and Astral has a loyal one - had a more concentrated dose of Kernis' elusive talent whose outward manner changes in nearly every piece, culminating in Sunday's premiere of da l'Arte Della Danssar (from the Art of the Dance). It's typically atypical Kernis: He employed chunks of 15th-century Italian text about the social function and pageantry of dance, more descriptive than poetic.