KRONOS QUARTET David Harrington, violin John Sherba, violin Hank Dutt, viola Sunny Yang, cello
Zankel Hall Carnegie Hall New York, New York February 11, 2017 Garth Knox / Satellites: III. Dimensions * Composed for Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire Kala Ramnath (arr. Reena Esmail) / Amrit * Composed for Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire Nicole Lizée / Another Living Soul * Composed for Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire Fodé Lassana Diabaté (arr. Jacob Garchik) / Sunjata’s Time * 1. Sumaworo 2. Sogolon 3. Nana Triban 4. Bala Faseke 5. Bara kala ta with special guest Fodé Lassana Diabaté, 22-key balafon Composed for Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire INTERMISSION Mark Applebaum / Darmstadt Kindergarten * NY premiere Tanya Tagaq (arr. Jacob Garchik) / Sivunittinni * Composed for Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire Rhiannon Giddens (arr. Jacob Garchik) / At the Purchaser's Option with variations * World premiere Composed for Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire Steve Reich / Triple Quartet * In three movements (played without pause) Kronos Quartet David Harrington, violin John Sherba, violin Hank Dutt, viola Sunny Yang, cello
Brian H. Scott, Lighting Designer Scott Fraser, Sound Designer PROGRAM SUBJECT TO CHANGE – Updated: 12/06/2016 * Written for Kronos / + Arranged for Kronos Kronos Quartet / P. O. Box 225340 / San Francisco, CA 94122-5340 Tel: 415/731-3533 / Fax: 415/664-7590 www.kronosquartet.org / www.facebook.com/kronosquartet
Garth Knox (b. 1956) Satellites (2015) Garth Knox is one of today’s leading performers of contemporary music, and his formative experience as a member of Pierre Boulez’s Ensemble InterContemporain and then as violist of the Arditti Quartet has given him a very comprehensive grasp of new music. Stimulated by the practical experience of working on a personal level with composers such as Boulez, Ligeti, Berio, Xenakis, and many others, he channels and expands this energy when writing his own music. Knox’s solo and ensemble pieces have been played all over Europe, USA, and Japan. He has received commissions from the Festival d’Automne in Paris, Proquartet (France), Concorde Ensemble (Ireland), Lucillin Ensemble (Luxembourg), Tokyo International Viola Competition (Japan), Camarata Variabile (Switzerland), Radio France, and the Kronos Quartet (USA). Viola Spaces, the first phase of a multi-faceted, on-going series of concert studies for strings published in 2010 by Schott, combines ground-breaking innovation in string technique with joyous pleasure in the act of music making, and the pieces have been adopted and performed by young string players all over the world. “Dimensions” is the third and final movement of Satellites, about which Knox writes: “‘Dimensions’ deals with the many possible dimensions which surround us, represented by the physical movements of the bow through space. In the first dimension, only vertical movement is possible. In the second, only horizontal movement along the string is possible. Then only circular motion, then alternating between the two sides of the bow (the stick and the hair). The fun really starts when we begin to mix the dimensions, slipping from one to another, and the piece builds to a climax of spectacular bow techniques including the ‘whip’ and the ‘helicopter’, producing a huge range of otherworldly sounds.”
Kala Ramnath (b. 1967) Amrit (2016) Grammy-nominated violinist Kala Ramnath has been recognized as one of the 50 best
instrumentalists in the world by Songlines Magazine, the same publication who selected her album Kala as one of the 50 best recordings of the world. The first Indian violinist to be featured in The Strad, Ramnath has also been featured in Hollywood soundtracks, including in the Oscar-nominated Blood Diamond. Born into a family of prodigious musical talents, Ramnath began her violin studies with her grandfather, Vidwan A. Narayan Iyer, before going on to study with legendary vocalist Pandit Jasraj. During this mentorship, Ramnath revolutionized the violin technique and produced a sound so unique, evocative, and akin to classical Indian vocal music that today her violin is called “The Singing Violin.” Ramnath has performed at all the major music festivals in India, as well as at several stages throughout the world, including the Sydney Opera House, London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, and New York’s Carnegie Hall. She has also been known to forge musical alliances with renowned artists from different genres around the globe, incorporating elements of Western Classical, Jazz, Flamenco, and traditional African music into her rich and varied repertoire. As a performer, Ramnath has shared the stage with such musicians as Ustad Zakir Hussain, Kai Eckhart, Edgar Meyer, Béla Fleck, Abbos Kosimov, and rock legend Ray Manzarek of The Doors. As a teacher, she lectures regularly and conducts workshops around the world, such as at the Rotterdam Conservatory of Music in the Netherlands, University of Giessen in Germany, and the Weill Institute in association with Carnegie Hall in New York. Out of her several recordings, Kala and Samvad were “Top of the World” in the charts of 2004, Yashila in 2006, and Samaya in 2008. Most recently, one of her compositions was featured in the Grammy-winning album In twenty seven encores. An established name in the world music scene, Ramnath is keen to enrich the lives of under-privileged and sick children through music in the form of her foundation, “Kalashree.” About Amrit, Ramnath writes: “This composition was created keeping in mind that it should appeal to every type of listener, giving joy and happiness to whomever listens to it. For this, the major scale in Western Classical music was chosen, which I felt would relate to both the Western and Indian Classical genres. “Its counterpart in Indian Classical Music is Raga Shudh Nat. Ragas literally mean, ‘that which colors the mind.’ Though there are many Indian ragas with the major scale, what distinguishes one from the other is their ascending and descending rule of note patterns. I have incorporated the ornamental Indian slides and glides touching upon the microtones and repetitive rhythmic non-linear patterns so special to Indian classical music, giving it a unique sound and feel.
“When this tune came to me, it took over my mind for days. I was humming it constantly. It sounded like a very joyful and happy tune to me. In Sanskrit, ‘amrit’ means ‘nectar.’ I hope this Amrit gives the same joy and happiness to everyone who listens to it.”
Nicole Lizée (b. 1973) Another Living Soul (2016) Called a “brilliant musical scientist” and lauded for “creating a stir with listeners for her breathless imagination and ability to capture Gen-X and beyond generation,” Montréalbased composer Nicole Lizée creates new music from an eclectic mix of influences including the earliest MTV videos, turntablism, rave culture, glitch, Hitchcock, Kubrick, Lynch, 1960s psychedelia, and 1960s modernism. She is fascinated by the glitches made by outmoded and well-worn technology, and captures, notates, and integrates these glitches into live performance. Lizée’s compositions range from works for orchestra and solo turntablist featuring fully notated DJ techniques, to other unorthodox instrument combinations that include the Atari 2600 video game console, omnichords, stylophones, Simon™, and karaoke tapes. In the broad scope of her evolving oeuvre she explores such themes as malfunction, reviving the obsolete, and the harnessing of imperfection and glitch to create a new kind of precision. In 2001, Lizée received a Master of Music degree from McGill University. After a decade and a half of composition, her commission list of over 40 works is varied and distinguished and includes the Kronos Quartet, BBC Proms, the San Francisco Symphony, l’Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal, New York City’s Kaufman Center, TorQ Percussion, Fondation Arte Musica/Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, Calefax, ECM+, Continuum, and Soundstreams, among others. Her music has been performed worldwide in renowned venues including Carnegie Hall (NYC), Royal Albert Hall (London), and Muziekgebouw (Amsterdam), and in festivals including the BBC Proms (UK), Huddersfield (UK), Bang On a Can (USA), Classical:NEXT (Rotterdam), Roskilde (Denmark), Melos-Ethos (Slovakia), Suoni Per Il Popolo (Canada), X Avant (Canada), Luminato (Canada), Switchboard (San Francisco), Casalmaggiore (Italy), and Dark Music Days (Iceland). Lizée was awarded the prestigious 2013 Canada Council for the Arts Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music. A Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellow (New York City/Italy), Lizée was selected in 2015 by acclaimed composer and conductor Howard Shore to be his protégée as part of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards. This Will Not Be Televised, her seminal piece for chamber ensemble and turntables, was chosen for the 2008 UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers’ Top 10 Works. Hitchcock Études for piano and notated glitch was chosen by the International Society for Contemporary Music and featured at the 2014 World Music Days in Poland. Additional awards and nominations include a Prix Opus (2013), Dora Mavor Moore Awards in Opera (2015),
two Prix collégien de musique contemporaine (2012, 2013), and the 2002 Canada Council for the Arts Robert Fleming Prize for achievements in composition. About Another Living Soul, Lizée writes: “Another Living Soul is stop motion animation for string quartet. Considered one of the most complex and idiosyncratic art forms, stop motion demands imagination, craft, isolation, an unwavering vision, fortitude, and copious amounts of time. The act of beginning the process invites both angst at the daunting task that has just begun and a kind of zen acceptance of the labyrinthine road ahead. “The earliest stop motion—those beings and worlds created by Harryhausen, Starevich, Clokey, et al—still impresses and inspires. Oozing creativity, their work has a roughhewn beauty and a timeless enchantment. “Throughout its evolution, the end result has always been incrementally imbuing vitality and life to something devoid of any such spark on its own. The close quarters, intimacy, and camaraderie of the people who work in this art form are mirrored by the scrutiny and care they afford their tiny subjects and the attention to minutiae required to render a work that is lifelike. The impossible becomes possible—souls emerge from where once there were none.”
Fodé Lassana Diabaté (b. 1971) Sunjata’s Time (2015) Arranged by Jacob Garchik Lassana Diabaté is a virtuoso balafon (22-key xylophone) player who comes originally from Guinea. The balafon dates back at least to the 13th century with the founding of the Mali empire. Lassana began playing balafon at the age of five at home in Conakry with his father, Djelisory Diabaté, a master balafon player, from Kindia, some 150 kms inland. Lassana later apprenticed himself to some of the celebrated balafon masters such as the late, great El Hadj Djeli Sory Kouyate, also from Kindia, as well as the late Alkali Camara. To this day, Lassana cherishes the rare recordings of his mentors, whose unique styles continue to be an important inspiration to him. Lassana settled in Mali in the late 1980s after being invited to join the band of Ami Koita, one of Mali’s most popular divas of the time, and has since recorded with many of Mali’s top artists such as Toumani Diabaté, Salif Keita, Babani Koné, Tiken Jah Fakoly, and Bassekou Kouyaté; he was also a member of the Grammy-nominated Mali-Cuba collaboration, Afrocubism. Sunjata’s Time is dedicated to Sunjata Keita, the warrior prince who founded the great Mali Empire in 1235, which at its height stretched across the West African savannah to the Atlantic shores. Sunjata’s legacy continues to be felt in many ways. During his time as emperor he established many of the cultural norms that remain in practice today—
including the close relationship between patron and musician that is the hallmark of so much music in Mali. The word “time” is meant to denote both “rhythm,” an important element in balafon performance, and “epoch,” since the composition sets out to evoke the kinds of musical sounds that might have been heard in Sunjata’s time, drawing on older styles of balafon playing which Lassana Diabaté has learned while studying with elder masters of the instrument in Guinea. Each of the first four movements depicts a character who played a central role in Sunjata’s life, and each is fronted by one of the four instruments of the quartet. The fifth movement brings the quartet together in equality to portray the harmonious and peaceful reign of this great West African emperor who lived nearly eight centuries ago. 1. Sumaworo. Sumaworo Kante was the name of the sorcerer blacksmith king, Sunjata’s opponent, who usurped the throne of Mande, a small kingdom on the border of presentday Guinea and Mali, to which Sunjata was the rightful heir. Sumaworo was a fearsome and powerful character who wore human skulls as a necklace. The balafon originally belonged to him and its sound was believed to have esoteric powers. (This movement is dedicated to the viola.) 2. Sogolon. Sogolon Koné was Sunjata’s mother, a wise buffalo woman who came from the land of Do, by the Niger river in the central valley of Mali, where the music is very old and pentatonic and sounds like the roots of the blues. It was predicted that Sogolon would give birth to a great ruler, and so two hunters brought her to Mande, where she married the king. But her co-wives were jealous and mocked her son. When Sunjata’s father died, Sunjata’s half-brother took the throne, and Sunjata went into exile with his mother (dedicated to the second violin). 3. Nana Triban. Nana Triban was Sunjata’s beautiful sister. When Sunjata went into exile, the sorcerer blacksmith wrested the throne from Sunjata’s half-brother. So the people of Mande went to find Sunjata, to beg him to return and help overthrow Sumaworo. Sunjata gathered an army from all the neighboring kingdoms. But it seemed that the Sumaworo was invincible, drawing on his powers of sorcery to evade defeat. Finally, Nana Triban intervened. She used her skills of seduction to trick Sumaworo into revealing the secret of his vulnerability, escaping before the act was consummated. Armed with this knowledge, Sunjata was victorious, restoring peace to the land, and building West Africa’s most powerful empire (dedicated to the cello). 4. Bala Faseké. Bala Faseké Kouyaté was Sunjata’s jeli (griot, or hereditary musician), and his instrument was the balafon, with its enchanting sound of rosewood keys and buzzing resonators. Bala Faseké was much more than just a musician: he was an adviser, educator, a go-between, and a loyal friend to Sunjata. And, of course, he was an astonishing virtuoso. The Mali Empire would never have been formed without the music of Bala Faseké, and the history of West Africa would have been very different. (This
movement is dedicated to the first violin.) 5. Bara kala ta. The title means, “he took up the archer’s bow.” Sunjata was unable to walk for the first seven years of his life; as a result, his mother was mercilessly taunted by her co-wives: “Is this the boy who is predicted to be king... who pulls himself along the ground and steals the food from our bowls?” (This is why he is called “Sunjata,” meaning “thief-lion”). Finally, unable to take the insults any longer, Sunjata stood up on his own two feet—a moment that was immortalized in a well-known song, a version of which became the national anthem of Mali. In little time, he became a gifted archer and revealed his true nature as a leader. This final movement makes subtle reference to the traditional tune in praise of Sunjata, known to all Mande griots. It brings together the quartet in a tribute to this great ruler— and the role that music played in his life. Notes about Sunjata’s Time by Lucy Durán
Mark Applebaum (b. 1967) Darmstadt Kindergarten (2015) Mark Applebaum is Associate Professor of Composition at Stanford University where he received the 2003 Walter J. Gores Award for excellence in teaching. He was named the Hazy Family University Fellow in Undergraduate Education and Leland & Edith Smith Faculty Scholar. He received his Ph.D. in composition from the University of California at San Diego where he studied principally with Brian Ferneyhough. His solo, chamber, choral, orchestral, operatic, and electroacoustic work has been performed throughout North and South America, Europe, Africa, Australia, and Asia with notable performances at the Darmstadt Sessions. Many of his pieces are characterized by challenges to the conventional boundaries of musical ontology: works for three conductors and no players, a concerto for florist and orchestra, pieces for instruments made of junk, notational specifications that appear on the faces of custom wristwatches, works for an invented sign language choreographed to sound, amplified Dadaist rituals, and a 72-foot long graphic score displayed in a museum and accompanied by no instructions for its interpretation. His TED Talk—about boredom—has been seen by more than one million viewers. He has received commissions from Betty Freeman, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, the Fromm Foundation, the Kronos Quartet, the Vienna Modern Festival, the Paul Dresher Ensemble, the St. Lawrence String Quartet, the Meridian Arts Ensemble, and numerous others. In 2013 the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players premiered his composition Rabbit Hole, an elaborate chamber ensemble work based on page turns. He has engaged in many intermedia collaborations, including neural artists, filmmakers,
florists, animators, architects, choreographers, and laptop DJs. He is also an accomplished jazz pianist who has performed from Sumatra to Ouagadougou and who concertizes internationally with his father, Bob Applebaum, in the Applebaum Jazz Piano Duo. His music appears on the Innova, Tzadik, Capstone, Blue Leaf, SEAMUS, New Focus, ChampD’Action, and Evergreen labels. He serves on the board of Other Minds. Applebaum has held professorial positions at Carleton College and Mississippi State University. He subsequently taught classes in Antwerp, Santiago, Singapore, Paris, Amsterdam, and Oxford. In 2000 he joined the faculty at Stanford where he directs [sic]—the Stanford Improvisation Collective. About Darmstadt Kindergarten, Applebaum writes: “Darmstadt Kindergarten consists of a 17-measure ‘theme,’ composed in two versions: instrumental and choreographic. The instrumental version is played conventionally on two violins, viola, and cello; the choreographic version calls for the players to substitute silent hand gestures—lavishly described in the score—for their instrumental sounds. “The instrumental ‘theme’ is repeated five times in immediate succession. During each successive statement, one additional player is permanently removed from the instrumental group and instead plays the choreographic version. The hand gestures are executed at precise moments corresponding to the rhythms from the player’s instrumental part. Darmstadt Kindergarten is thus a piece that is partly about memory; the audience is invited to ‘hear’ the instrumental material when later voiced by choreographed action. Music can indeed be expressed even in the absence of sound. “The title alludes to the famous summer music courses held in Darmstadt, Germany. For decades, composers such as Cage, Boulez, Nono, and Stockhausen met to share their latest musical sounds and ideas. The festival came to be known as a hotbed of the most gritty, modernist contemporary music, stuff aimed decidedly at mature audiences and, as a consequence, sometimes lacking the ludic sense of play that makes childlike enterprise so appealing (and perhaps in need of rehabilitation). Commissioned originally for a Kronos Quartet’s children’s concert, I wanted to compose a piece that could appeal at once to audiences of varying age, experience, and affinity for levity, gravity, whimsy, and rigor, something worthy of a ‘Darmstadt kindergarten.’” Darmstadt Kindergarten by Mark Applebaum was commissioned for the Kronos Quartet by the David Harrington Research and Development Fund.
Tanya Tagaq (b. 1975) Sivunittinni (2015) Arranged by Jacob Garchik Tanya Tagaq’s unique vocal expression is rooted in Inuit throat singing, but her music has as much to do with electronica, industrial and metal influences as it does with traditional culture. Her contribution to Kronos Quartet’s Fifty for the Future project
marks another chapter in a longstanding creative association with the group. Appearances with Kronos have included a performance at the Big Ears Festival (Knoxville, Tennessee) in 2015 and work on the album Tundra Songs. Tagaq’s album Animism won the Polaris Music Prize in 2014 and a Juno Award in 2015. She is the recipient of an honorary doctorate degree from her alma mater, Nova Scotia College of Art & Design in Halifax. About Sivunittinni, Tagaq writes: “Sivunittinni, or ‘the future ones,’ comes from a part of a poem I wrote for my album, and is the perfect title for this piece. My hope is to bring a little bit of the land to future musicians through this piece. There’s a disconnect in the human condition, a disconnect from nature, and it has caused a great deal of social anxiety and fear, as well as a lack of true meaning of health, and a lack of a relationship with what life is, so maybe this piece can be a little bit of a wake-up. “Working with the Kronos Quartet has been an honour. We have a symbiosis that allows a lot of growth musically. They teach me so much, I can only hope to reciprocate. Kronos has gifted me the opportunity to take the sounds that live in my body and translate them into the body of instruments. This means so much because the world changes very quickly, and documenting allows future musicians to glean inspiration from our output.”
Rhiannon Giddens (b. 1977) At the Purchaser’s Option with variations (2016) Arranged by Jacob Garchik Rhiannon Giddens is best known as the lead singer, violinist, banjo player, and founding member of the Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops, an eclectic string band which routinely brings sold-out audiences to their feet. Her interest in country, blues, and old-time folk music began in the Piedmont area of North Carolina, where she was raised. Following on a highly acclaimed Town Hall performance in 2013, her first solo album, Tomorrow is My Turn, was released in 2015. Kronos has performed with Giddens at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, at the Barbican in London, and at Texas Performing Arts in Austin, Texas.
Steve Reich (b. 1936) Triple Quartet (1999) Steve Reich has been recognized internationally as one of the world's foremost living composers. From his early taped speech works It's Gonna Rain (1965) and Come Out (1966) to The Cave (1993) and Three Tales (2002), his collaborations with the video artist Beryl Korot, Reich's path has embraced not only aspects of Western classical music, but the structures, harmonies, and rhythms of non-Western and American vernacular music, particularly jazz. Born in New York, Reich graduated with honors in Philosophy from Cornell University and studied at Juilliard with William Bergsma and Vincent Persichetti. After receiving
his M.A. in Music from Mills College, Reich studied drumming at the Institute for African Studies at the University of Ghana and traditional forms of cantillation (chanting) of the Hebrew scriptures in New York and Jerusalem. Reich founded his own ensemble, Steve Reich and Musicians, which since 1971 has frequently toured the world, performing at venues as diverse as Carnegie Hall and the Bottom Line cabaret. Reich's 1988 piece Different Trains, written for Kronos, marked a new compositional method, rooted in It's Gonna Rain and Come Out, in which speech recordings generate the musical material for musical instruments. In 1990 he received a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Composition for Different Trains as recorded by Kronos on Nonesuch. In 1997, Nonesuch released a ten-disc retrospective box set, Steve Reich Works: 1965-1995. He won a second Grammy Award in 1999 for his piece Music for 18 Musicians, also on Nonesuch. In 1994 Steve Reich was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, to the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts in 1995, and, in 1999, awarded Commandeur de l'ordre des Arts et Lettres. The year 2000 brought five additional honors: the Schuman Prize from Columbia University, the Montgomery Fellowship from Dartmouth College, the Regent's Lectureship at the University of California at Berkeley, an honorary doctorate from the California Institute of the Arts and Musical America's Composer of the Year. About Triple Quartet, Reich writes: â€œTriple Quartet is dedicated to the Kronos Quartet. It is for three string quartets. For Kronos or any other single string quartet to perform the piece they must prerecord quartets two and three and then play the quartet one part along with the prerecorded tape. Alternately, the piece can be played by twelve players with no tape. â€œThe piece is in three movements: fast-slow-fast. It is organized harmonically on four dominant chords in keys a minor third apart: E minor, G minor, B-flat minor, C-sharp minor and then returning to E minor to form a cycle. The first movement goes through this harmonic cycle twice with a section about one minute long on each of the four dominant chords. The result is a kind of variation form. Rhythmically, the first movement has the second and third quartet playing interlocking chords while the first quartet plays longer melodies in canon between the first violin and viola against the second violin and cello. The slow movement is more completely contrapuntal with a long slow melody in canon in all twelve voices. The third movement resumes the original fast tempo, maintains the harmonic chord cycle but treats all the previous material in the piece more freely.â€? Biography reprinted by kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes. Steve Reich's Triple Quartet was commissioned for the Kronos Quartet with funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, David A. and Evelyne T. Lennette, Patricia Unterman and Tim Savinar, and Meet the Composer/Arts Endowment
Commissioning Music/USA, which is made possible by generous support from The Helen F. Whitaker Fund, and The Catherine Filene Shouse Foundation. For the Kronos Quartet/Kronos Performing Arts Association: Janet Cowperthwaite, Managing Director Sidney Chen, Artistic Administrator Mason Dille, Development Manager Sarah Donahue, Production & Tour Associate Lauren Frankel, Development Associate Scott Fraser, Sound Designer Sasha Hnatkovich, Communications Manager Gregory T. Kuhn, Production & Artistic Services Director Reshena Liao, Communications & Marketing Associate Nikolás McConnie-Saad, Office Manager Kären Nagy, Strategic Initiatives Director Lucinda Toy, Business Operations Manager Contact: Kronos Quartet/Kronos Performing Arts Association P. O. Box 225340 San Francisco, CA 94122-5340 USA kronosquartet.org facebook.com/kronosquartet instagram.com/kronos_quartet Twitter: @kronosquartet #kronos The Kronos Quartet records for Nonesuch Records.
Fifty for the Future Garth Knox’s Satellites, Kala Ramnath’s Amrit, Nicole Lizée’s Another Living Soul, Fodé Lassana Diabaté’s Sunjata’s Time, Tanya Tagaq’s Sivunittinni, and Rhiannon Giddens’s At the Purchaser’s Option with variations were commissioned as part of the Kronos Performing Arts Association’s Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire, which is made possible by a group of adventurous partners, including The Performing Arts Center at Carnegie Hall and many others. Kronos Quartet/Kronos Performing Arts Association has launched an exciting new commissioning initiative—Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire. Beginning in the 2015/16 season, Fifty for the Future will commission 50 new works— 10 per year for five years— devoted to contemporary approaches to the quartet and designed expressly for the training of students and emerging professionals. The works will be created by an eclectic group of composers—25 men and 25 women. Kronos will
premiere each piece and create companion digital materials, including scores, recordings, and performance notes, which will be distributed online for free. Kronos’ Fifty for the Future will present string quartet music as a living art form. Kronos, Carnegie Hall, and an adventurous list of project partners will join forces to support this exciting new commissioning, performance, education, and legacy project of unprecedented scope and potential impact.
Kronos Quartet For more than 40 years, the Kronos Quartet—David Harrington (violin), John Sherba (violin), Hank Dutt (viola), and Sunny Yang (cello)—has pursued a singular artistic vision, combining a spirit of fearless exploration with a commitment to continually re-imagining the string quartet experience. In the process, Kronos has become one of the most celebrated and influential groups of our time, performing thousands of concerts worldwide, releasing more than 50 recordings of extraordinary breadth and creativity, collaborating with many of the world's most intriguing and accomplished composers and performers, and commissioning more than 850 works and arrangements for string quartet. In 2011, Kronos became the only recipients of both the Polar Music Prize and the Avery Fisher Prize, two of the most prestigious awards given to musicians. The group’s numerous awards also include a Grammy for Best Chamber Music Performance (2004) and “Musicians of the Year” (2003) from Musical America. Kronos’ adventurous approach dates back to the ensemble’s origins. In 1973, David Harrington was inspired to form Kronos after hearing George Crumb's Black Angels, a highly unorthodox, Vietnam War–inspired work featuring bowed water glasses, spoken word passages, and electronic effects. Kronos then began building a compellingly diverse repertoire for string quartet, performing and recording works by 20th-century masters (Bartók, Webern, Schnittke), contemporary composers (Sophia Gubaidulina, Bryce Dessner, Aleksandra Vrebalov), jazz legends (Ornette Coleman, Maria Schneider, Thelonious Monk), rock artists (guitar legend Jimi Hendrix, Brazilian electronica artist Amon Tobin, and Icelandic indie-rock group Sigur Rós), and artists who truly defy genre (performance artist Laurie Anderson, composer/sound sculptor/inventor Trimpin, and singer-songwriter/poet Patti Smith). Integral to Kronos’ work is a series of long-running, in-depth collaborations with many of the world’s foremost composers. One of the quartet’s most frequent composer-collaborators is “Father of Minimalism” Terry Riley, whose work with Kronos includes Salome Dances for Peace (1985–86); Sun Rings (2002), a multimedia, NASA-commissioned ode to the earth and its people, featuring celestial sounds and images from space; and The Serquent Risadome, premiered during Kronos’ 40th Anniversary Celebration at Carnegie Hall in 2014. Kronos commissioned and recorded the three string quartets of Polish composer Henryk Górecki, with whom the group worked for more than 25 years. The quartet has also collaborated extensively with composers such as Philip Glass, recording a CD of his string quartets in 1995 and premiering String Quartet No. 6 in 2013, among other projects; Azerbaijan’s Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, whose works are featured on the full-length 2005 release Mugam Sayagi; Steve Reich, from Kronos’ performance of the Grammy-winning composition Different Trains (1989) to the September 11–themed WTC 9/11 (2011); and many more. In addition to composers, Kronos counts numerous performers from around the world among its collaborators, including the Chinese pipa virtuoso Wu Man; Azeri master vocalist Alim Qasimov; legendary Bollywood “playback singer” Asha Bhosle, featured on Kronos’ 2005 Grammy-
nominated CD You’ve Stolen My Heart: Songs from R.D. Burman’s Bollywood; Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq; indie rock band The National; Mexican rockers Café Tacvba; sound artist and instrument builder Walter Kitundu; and the Romanian gypsy band Taraf de Haïdouks. Kronos has performed live with the likes of Paul McCartney, Allen Ginsberg, Jarvis Cocker, Zakir Hussain, Modern Jazz Quartet, Noam Chomsky, Rokia Traoré, Tom Waits, Rhiannon Giddens, Howard Zinn, Betty Carter, and David Bowie, and has appeared on recordings by artists such as Nine Inch Nails, Dan Zanes, Glenn Kotche, Dave Matthews, Nelly Furtado, Joan Armatrading, and Don Walser. In dance, the famed choreographers Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, Twyla Tharp, Eiko & Koma, and Paul Lightfoot and Sol León (Nederlands Dans Theater) have created pieces with Kronos’ music. Kronos’ work has also featured prominently in a number of films, including two recent Academy Award–nominated documentaries: the AIDS-themed How to Survive a Plague (2012) and Dirty Wars (2013), an exposé of covert warfare for which Kronos’ David Harrington served as Music Supervisor. Kronos also performed scores by Philip Glass for the films Mishima and Dracula (a 1999 restored edition of the 1931 Tod Browning–Bela Lugosi classic) and by Clint Mansell for the Darren Aronofsky films Noah (2014), The Fountain (2006), and Requiem for a Dream (2000). Additional films featuring Kronos’ music include The Great Beauty (2013), Heat (1995), and True Stories (1986). The quartet spends five months of each year on tour, appearing in concert halls, clubs, and festivals around the world including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Big Ears, BAM Next Wave Festival, Chicago’s Harris Theater, Disney Hall, Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, Barbican in London, WOMAD, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Shanghai Concert Hall, and Sydney Opera House. Kronos is equally prolific and wide-ranging on recordings. The ensemble’s expansive discography on Nonesuch Records includes collections like Pieces of Africa (1992), a showcase of African-born composers, which simultaneously topped Billboard’s Classical and World Music lists; 1998’s ten-disc anthology, Kronos Quartet: 25 Years; Nuevo (2002), a Grammy- and Latin Grammy–nominated celebration of Mexican culture; and the 2004 Grammywinner, Alban Berg’s Lyric Suite, featuring renowned soprano Dawn Upshaw. Other more recent releases include Rainbow (Smithsonian Folkways, 2010), in collaboration with musicians from Afghanistan and Azerbaijan; and Aheym: Kronos Quartet Plays Music by Bryce Dessner (Anti-, 2013). In celebration of the quartet’s 40th anniversary season in 2014, Nonesuch released both Kronos Explorer Series, a five-CD retrospective boxed set, and the single-disc A Thousand Thoughts, featuring mostly unreleased recordings from throughout Kronos’ career. 2015 brought the release of Tundra Songs by Derek Charke as well as a boxed set of Terry Riley’s music written for and performed by Kronos in celebration of the composer’s 80th birthday. Music publishers Boosey & Hawkes and Kronos have released two editions of Kronos Collection sheet music: Volume 1 (2006), featuring three Kronos-commissioned works; and Volume 2 (2014), featuring six Kronos-commissioned arrangements by composer Osvaldo Golijov. In addition to its role as a performing and recording ensemble, the quartet is committed to mentoring emerging performers and composers and has led workshops, master classes, and other education programs via the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the California State Summer School for the Arts, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, and other institutions in the U.S. and overseas. Kronos has recently undertaken extended educational residencies at UC Berkeley’s Cal Performances, The Clarice at the University of Maryland, and with the Kaufman Music Center’s Face the Music. With a staff of 11 based in San Francisco, the non-profit Kronos Performing Arts Association (KPAA) manages all aspects of Kronos’ work, including the commissioning of new works,
concert tours and local performances, education programs, and more. KPAA’s Kronos: Under 30 Project, a unique commissioning and residency program for composers under age 30, has now added five new works to the Kronos repertoire. KRONOS PRESENTS is a new presenting program showcasing Kronos’ commissioned works, artistic projects and far-ranging musical collaborations through an annual festival, education and community activities, and other events in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. In 2015 KPAA launched a new commissioning and education initiative – Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire. With Carnegie Hall as a lead partner, KPAA is commissioning 50 new works – 10 per year for five years – devoted to contemporary approaches to the quartet and designed expressly for the training of students and emerging professionals. The works will be created by an eclectic group of composers – 25 women and 25 men. The quartet will premiere each piece and create companion materials, including scores and parts, recordings, videos, performance notes, and composer interviews, that will be distributed online for free. Kronos’ Fifty for the Future will present quartet music as a living art form, and provide young musicians with both an indispensable library of learning and a blueprint for their own future collaborations with composers. Kronos, Carnegie Hall, and an adventurous list of project partners that includes presenters, academic institutions, foundations and individuals, have joined forces to support this exciting new commissioning, performance, education, and legacy project of unprecedented scope and potential impact.