Kronos’ Fifty for the Future Composers

Islam Chipsy - Egypt

Website: http://qujunktions.com/artists/islamchipsy

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About Islam Chipsy


Islam Chipsy and his band EEK are a three-way force of nature from Cairo, Egypt described by those who’ve been caught in the eye of their storm as one of the most exciting live propositions on the planet. At the core of the group lies electro chaabi keyboard pioneer Islam Chipsy, whose joyous, freewheeling sonic blitz warps the standard oriental scale system into otherworldly shapes, as flanked by Mohamed Karam and Mahmoud Refat raining down a percussive maelstrom behind dual drum kits.

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Yevgeniy Sharlat - Russia / USA

Website: http://ysharlat.com/

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About Yevgeniy Sharlat


Yevgeniy Sharlat has composed music for orchestra, chamber ensembles, solo, theater, ballet, mechanical sculptures, animations, and film. His commissions have come from such institutions as the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, the Caramoor Festival, The Curtis Institute of Music, Texas Performing Arts, Gilmore Keyboard Festival, Astral Artistic Services, and the Seattle Chamber Players. He has written string quartets for the Amphion, the Aizuri, and the Aeolus Quartets. His music has been performed by such ensembles as Kremerata Baltica, the Seattle Symphony, Hartford Symphony, NCSA Symphony, Mikkeli City Orchestra (Finland), Chamber Orchestra Kremlin, the NOW Ensemble, and Le Train Bleu. 

Sharlat was the recipient of the 2006 Charles Ives Fellowship from American Academy of Arts and Letters; other honors include a Fromm Music Foundation Commission to write for the Viney-Grinberg Piano Duo, fellowships from MacDowell and Yaddo, and ASCAP’s Morton Gould, Boosey & Hawkes, and Leiber & Stoller awards. 

Born in Moscow, Russia, Sharlat majored in violin, piano, and music theory at the Academy of Moscow Conservatory. After immigrating to the United States in 1994, he studied composition at Juilliard Pre-College, received his bachelor’s degree from the Curtis Institute of Music, and his master’s and doctoral degrees from Yale University. His teachers included Aaron Jay Kernis, Martin Bresnick, Joseph Schwantner, Ned Rorem, and Richard Danielpour. Sharlat is associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin, where he teaches composition and music theory.

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Onutė Narbutaitė - Lithuania

Website: http://www.mic.lt/en/database/classical/composers/narbutaite/

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About Onutė Narbutaitė


Onutė Narbutaitė is one of Lithuania’s best-known composers. She learned the basics of composition from Bronius Kutavičius, graduating in 1979 from the Lithuanian State Conservatory (now the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre) where she studied composition under Prof. Julius Juzeliūnas. From 1979 to 1982, she taught music theory and history at the Klaipėda Faculty of the Lithuanian State Conservatory. Sine then, she has concentrated solely on her creative work and lives in Vilnius.

In 1997, the Narbutaitė was awarded the Lithuanian National Prize for her oratorio Centones meae urbi. The cycle of symphonies Tres Dei Matris Symphoniae and the symphonic composition La barca were recognized as the best symphonic works in the 2004 and 2005 competitions organized by the Lithuanian Composers’ Union. This same competition chose her as Composer of the Year in 2015 for her opera Kornetas (The Cornet) and the chamber work Was There a Butterfly?. Narbutaitė is also the recipient of the Lithuanian Association of Artists prize (2005); the St Christopher statue awarded by the Vilnius City Municipality, the highest honor it can bestow, for depicting Vilnius in her music (2008); the Gold Star awarded by the Lithuanian Copyright Protection Association (2015); among many other prizes.

As early as the 1980s, Onutė Narbutaitė enjoyed the reputation of a composer of subtle chamber music. Her early opuses were suffused with depictions of night, silence, and oblivion; her compositions, unhurried in their flow, with their transparent textures and nostalgic in mood, not infrequently would remind one of the pages of a diary written with sounds. In the years following Lithuania’s independence the composer’s music underwent a significant transformation—Narbutaitė began devoting herself to large-scale symphonic and symphonic-vocal works. In maintaining her undeniably creative independence, Narbutaitė has developed an expressive musical language, characterized by intellectualism and structural thinking, expressive instrumentation, and a haunting melodic quality, sounds stacked vertically one on top of the other, and an intense musical flow. The subtle sonic imagination in her music is in harmony with the rich cultural references to be found there.

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Tod Machover - USA

Website: http://web.media.mit.edu/~tod/

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About Tod Machover


Tod Machover is Muriel R. Cooper Professor of Music and Media and director of the Media Lab’s Opera of the Future group. Called a “musical visionary” by The New York Times and “America’s most wired composer” by The Los Angeles Times, Machover is an influential composer and inventor, praised for creating music that breaks traditional artistic and cultural boundaries and for developing technologies that expand music’s potential for everyone, from celebrated virtuosi to musicians of all abilities. Machover studied with Elliott Carter and Roger Sessions at The Juilliard School and was the first Director of Musical Research at Pierre Boulez’s IRCAM in Paris. Since 2006, he has been Visiting Professor of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

Machover’s music has been performed and commissioned by many of the world’s most important performers and ensembles, including Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Lucerne Festival (where he was 2015 Composer-in-Residence), and the Tokyo String Quartet. He has received numerous prizes and honors, including from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Fromm and Koussevitzky Foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the French Culture Ministry, which named him a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He was finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music and was the inaugural recipient of the Arts Advocacy Award from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2013. In 2016, he was named Composer of the Year by Musical America.

Machover is widely recognized for designing new technologies for music performance and creation, such as Hyperinstruments, “smart” performance systems that extend expression for virtuosi, from Yo-Yo Ma to Prince, as well as for the general public. The popular videogames Guitar Hero and Rock Band grew out of Machover’s group at the Media Lab. His Hyperscore software—which allows anyone to compose original music using lines and colors—has enabled children around the world to have their music performed by major orchestras, chamber music ensembles, and rock bands. Machover is also deeply involved in developing musical technologies and concepts for medical and wellbeing contexts, helping to diagnose conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, or allowing people with cerebral palsy to communicate through music.

Machover is especially known for his visionary operas, including VALIS (based on Philip K. Dick’s sci-fi classic and commissioned by the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris); Brain Opera (which invites the audience to collaborate live and online); Skellig (based on David Almond’s award-winning novel and premiered at the Sage Gateshead in 2008); and the “robotic” Death and the Powers (which premiered in Monaco at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo in 2010 and continues to tour worldwide).

Machover has recently worked on a series of “collaborative city symphonies” to create sonic portraits of cities for, and with, the people who live there. So far, City Symphonies have been created for Toronto, Edinburgh, Perth, Lucerne, and Detroit, and a new series for cities around the world is in the planning stage. Machover is currently at work on his next opera project—a commission from Boston Lyric Opera for fall, 2018—as well as on works, installations, and technologies that continue to expand individual creativity, while establishing multisensory collaboration and empathy within communities and across the globe.

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Zakir Hussain - India / USA

Website: http://www.zakirhussain.com/

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About Zakir Hussain


The pre-eminent classical tabla virtuoso of our time, Zakir Hussain is appreciated both in the field of percussion and in the music world at large as an international phenomenon. A national treasure in his native India, he is one of the world’s most esteemed and influential musicians, renowned for his genre-defying collaborations.

Widely considered a chief architect of the contemporary world music movement, Hussain’s contribution has been unique, with many historic and groundbreaking collaborations, including Shakti, Remember Shakti, Masters of Percussion, the Diga Rhythm Band, Planet Drum, Tabla BeatScience, Sangam with Charles Lloyd and Eric Harland, in trio with Bela Fleck and Edgar Meyer and, most recently, with Herbie Hancock. The foremost disciple of his father, the legendary Ustad Allarakha, Hussain was a child prodigy who began his professional career at the age of 12, touring internationally with great success by the age of 18.

As a composer, he has scored music for numerous feature films, major events, and productions. He has composed two concertos, and his third, the first-ever concerto for tabla and orchestra, was premiered in India in September 2015, premiered in Europe and the UK in 2016, and will be performed in the USA in April, 2017, by the National Symphony Orchestra at Kennedy Center. A Grammy award winner, he is the recipient of countless awards and honors, including Padma Bhushan, National Heritage Fellowship and Officier in France’s Order of Arts and Letters. In 2015, he was voted “Best Percussionist” by both the Downbeat Critics’ Poll and Modern Drummer’s Reader’s Poll.

As an educator, he conducts many workshops and lectures each year, has been in residence at Princeton University and Stanford University, and, in 2015, was appointed Regents Lecturer at UC Berkeley. He is the founder and president of Moment Records, an independent record label presenting rare live concert recordings of Indian classical music and world music. Hussain was resident artistic director at SFJAZZ from 2013 until 2016.

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Erin Gee - USA

Website: http://www.erin-gee.com/

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About Erin Gee


In January 2014, Erin Gee was cited by Alex Ross, music critic for The New Yorker, as one of the most influential composer-vocalists of the 21st century; since then she has been awarded the Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a Bogliasco Fellowship. Gee’s awards for composition include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Radcliffe Fellowship, the 2008 Rome Prize, Zürich Opera House’s Teatro Minimo, a Schloss Solitude Fellowship, and the Picasso-Mirò Medal (Rostrum of Composers) among others. She has been commissioned by the Zurich Opera House for the opera SLEEP, twice by the Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna, the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group under Esa-Pekka Salonen, and for four pieces by Klangforum Wien. Gee has also worked with the Latvian Radio Chamber Choir, Ensemble Recherche, Talea Ensemble, Ensemble Dal Niente, Argento Ensemble, Wet Ink, TAK Ensemble, Arditti Quartet, JACK Quartet, Ascolta Ensemble, Le Balcon, ECCE Ensemble, Repertorio Zero, members of ICE, and many others. The American Composers Orchestra commissioned Mouthpiece XIII: Mathilde of Loci Part I for Zankel Hall in Carnegie Hall, which was highlighted in Symphony Magazine (March/April 2010), and cited in the New York Times as “subtle and inventive.” The Boston Globe mentioned Mouthpiece 29 as a highlight of Tanglewood’s Festival of Contemporary Music in 2016. Gee is currently Assistant Professor of Composition at the University of Illinois.
Gee’s debut portrait CD, Mouthpieces was released in January 2014 on the col legno label in Vienna and received a review in Gramophone, which stated, “Erin Gee clearly has a contribution to make,” and mentioned the “tangible virtuosity of Gee’s formidable vocal execution, as well as the comparable (if relatively more orthodox) finesse of the instrumental component.”

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Aftab Darvishi - Iran / Netherlands

Website: http://www.aftabdarvishi.com

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About Aftab Darvishi


Aftab Darvishi was born in Tehran, Iran in 1987. She started playing violin at age five, and as she grew older, she got in touch with other instruments like the Kamancheh (Iranian string instrument) and classical Piano. Darvishi has studied Music Performance at University of Tehran, Composition at Royal Conservatory of The Hague and Composing for film and Karnatic Music (South Indian music) at Conservatory of Amsterdam.

Darvishi has presented her music in various festivals in Europe and Asia working with various ensembles. She has also attended various artistic residencies, such AiEP Contemporary Dance Company (Milan), Kinitiras studio (Athens), and Akropoditi Dance center (Syros). She is a former member of KhZ ensemble; an experimental electronic ensemble with supervision of Yannis Kyriakides that has performed in various festivals such as the Holland Festival. After her graduation, she has been regularly invited as a guest lecturer at the University of Tehran.

In 2014, Darvishi was short listed for the 20th Young Composer meeting in Apeldoorn (Netherlands) and in 2015, she won the Music Education award from Listhus Artist Residency to hold workshops for presenting Persian music to music teachers at Music School of Fjallabyggd, Iceland. In October 2016, Darvishi was awarded the prestigious Tenso Young Composers Award for her piece And the world stopped Lacking you... for a cappella choir.

Darvishi is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Brunel for which she was awarded the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds scholarship from Netherlands.

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Stephan Thelen - USA / Switzerland

Website: http://www.stephanthelen.com/
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About Circular Lines

Stephan Thelen provides performance notes for Circular Lines below:

Stephan Thelen provides resources

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Program Notes

About Circular Lines, Thelen writes:

Circular Lines is an energetic, propulsive, and highly rhythmic piece in one movement that belongs to the post-minimalistic tradition of tonal and rhythmic music that aims to create maximum effect with minimum means. The main idea of the quartet is based on a ‘3 against 4 against 5’ polyrhythm where one instrument plays in 3/8, one in 4/8 and one in 5/8 while the fourth instrument (the ‘wild card’) either plays melodies on top of this continuum or supports one of the rhythmic layers. During the piece, every instrument has several opportunities to take each one of the four roles. Harmonically, the piece starts in A minor and then shifts backwards through the circle of fifths until it reaches A minor again at the end.

“During the period in which the piece was composed, the dominant theme in Europe was the refugee crisis and how the selfish governments and people of Europe completely failed to find a compassionate way to deal with the unimaginable suffering of the refugees. The fact that I was constantly thinking about the crisis has surely found its way into the piece. Especially haunting for me was the image of people who would rather risk their lives getting into a ramshackled boat heading towards an unknown and potentially hostile future than stay in their home country. Yet still, despite all the suffering, many maintain hope and optimism, a fact which should come through in the interpretation of the piece.”

About Stephan Thelen


Raised in Santa Rosa, California, Swiss citizen Stephan Thelen is a composer, electric guitarist, and mathematician based in Zürich. Aside from teaching mathematics, he is a member of the Swiss minimal-rock band SONAR, a quartet that produces a unique blend of music that explores polymetrical structures and the harmonic possibilities of guitars tuned in tritones. In the words of John Schaefer, host of WNYC’s New Sounds program, “a really fascinating blend of art-rock, groove-based minimalism and abstract mathematical theory, all woven together to great effect.”

He studied mathematics and music at the University of Zürich, where he obtained a PhD in mathematics in 1990. Other key factors in his musical education were several Guitar Craft seminars with Robert Fripp (founder of the band King Crimson) and intensive studies of the music of Béla Bartók (through the work of Ernö Lendvai) and Steve Reich.

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Soo Yeon Lyuh - Korea / USA

Website: http://www.sooyeonlyuh.com/
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About Yessori

Video: Soo Yeon Lyuh and members of Kronos demonstrate and discusses key techniques in her Fifty for the Future piece, Yessori.

Lyuh provides rehearsal notes for Yessori below:

Soo Yeon Lyuh provides resources

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Yessori Videos

Program Notes

About Yessori, Lyuh writes:

“When I first played the haegeum for Kronos violinist David Harrington, he commented that the sound seemed ‘ancient,’ and commissioned me to write a piece that explores aspects of Korean traditional music. With his observation in mind, I composed Yessori (옛소리), which is Korean for ‘sound from the past.’
 
“The first time I experienced Korean traditional music, the relative pitch relationships and fluid nature of the rhythmic cycles felt chaotic, perhaps because of my background in Western music. However, over the past two decades of studying the haegeum, I came to love these unique qualities and am excited to share them through Yessori.

“My compositional process began with improvisations on the haegeum in the style of traditional Korean music. I then adapted the distinctive techniques, vibrato, and articulations for string quartet.”

Composition Process

For the composition of Yessori, Soo Yeon Lyuh first recorded the piece on her own instrument, the haegeum. After recording a first layer, she then improvised three more layers, one on top of the other, resulting in the four-part haegeum track here. Lyuh then transcribed and arranged the recording for string quartet. Hear Lyuh’s original pipa recordings here.


About Soo Yeon Lyuh


Soo Yeon Lyuh is a haegeum (Korean two-string bowed instrument) player, composer, and improviser currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Rigorously trained in court and folk repertories from a young age, Lyuh is known for her masterful performances of new compositions for the haegeum. In South Korea, she served as a member of the National Gugak Center’s new music group for 12 years.

Deeply invested in exploring new musical possibilities via improvisation, she has collaborated with the William Winant, Fred Frith, Joan Jeanrenaud, and numerous other diverse international performers and composers. Lyuh has premiered over 50 new music compositions in the last two years, including pieces by Cindy Cox, Larry Polansky, David Evan Jones, and Jean Ahn. She has performed renowned contemporary and experimental concerts in festivals and venues all over the world, including the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival (MASS MoCA), Ecstatic Music Festival (The Greene Space at WQXR, New York), as a featured soloist with UC Berkeley Symphony orchestra on tour (Spain), Isang Yun Music Festival (North Korea), Büyükşehir Belediyesi Sanat ve Kültür Sarayı (Turkey), Siri Fort Auditorium (India) and the Seoul Arts Center (South Korea), among others. Lyuh has recorded multiple CDs of Korean court music, Jazz, and improvisation, as well as being featured on an improvisational recording with Henry Kaiser, Bill Laswell, Rudresh Mahanthappa, and Simon Barker.

Lyuh holds a BA, MA, and Ph.D. in Korean Musicology from Seoul National University where she taught for six years. More recently, she has organized workshops and lecture concerts in collaboration with composition and ethnomusicology faculty at UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis, Mills College, and University of Hawai’i at Manoa. Lyuh seeks to continually expand contemporary haegeum possibilities through work with new media and technology. She is currently a Scholar-Artist in Residence at Mills College.

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Joan Jeanrenaud - USA

Website: http://www.jjcello.com/
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About Knock

Video: Jeanrenaud, joined by Kronos violinist John Sherba and cellist Sunny Yang, demonstrates and discusses key techniques for Knock, the piece she wrote for Kronos' Fifty for the Future.

Jeanrenaud provides rehearsal notes for Knock below:

Joan Jeanrenaud provides resources

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Knock Videos

Program Notes

About Knock, Jeanrenaud writes:

“In writing Knock for Kronos and specifically for their Fifty for the Future project, I reflected on my years playing in the group and all the string techniques I learned working with them.

“We were using our instruments in ways we weren't taught in music school. Yet we were always trying to embody the same basic principles of creating the best sound warranted and needed to express the composer's ideas. Whether it was a crunching sound produced by applying intense pressure on the string (that we had spent years trying to avoid!) or the most delicate of pizzicatos produced by caressing the string with the flesh of the thumb, we were always discovering the sounds our instruments could produce and the best way to do so. There was always a new piece with new ideas that we strived to execute and bring to life. Each composer brought challenges to express their ideas in sound and music.

“Learning how to execute and express all these challenges opened an immense world of different approaches to the sound world of our instruments. It is impossible to encompass all these ideas in one piece, so instead I have picked moments that have influenced me and seamlessly entered into my work as composer.

“Also I was inspired thinking about all the ‘hard knocks’ we encountered together over the years, but how the music kept us going.”

About Joan Jeanrenaud


Cellist and Composer Joan Jeanrenaud has been involved in music for over 40 years. Growing up in Memphis, Tennessee, she was exposed to the sounds of the blues, Elvis, soul, folk, and classical music. She learned to play her instrument from cellists Peter Spurbeck, Fritz Magg, and Pierre Fournier, studied jazz with David Baker and Joe Henderson, and worked with Kronos Quartet as cellist for 20 years. Now for the past 18 years she has been involved with projects in composition, improvisation, electronics, and multi-disciplinary performance. She has completed more than 70 compositions for cello and small ensembles, many of these multimedia works. Her compositions and recordings are featured in many films, most recently scoring the documentary Born This Way.

Other projects include her installation work ARIA with collaborator Alessandro Moruzzi, which premiered at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and Second Time Around, the composition, collaboration, performances, and recording with storyteller Charlie Varon and dramaturge David Ford. Her CD, Strange Toys, released on the Talking House label in 2008, was nominated for a Grammy, and her most recent releases, Pop-Pop, Visual Music, and Second Time Around, appear on her own record label, Deconet Records.

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Trey Spruance - USA

Website: https://www.facebook.com/secretchiefs3/
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About Séraphîta

Video: Members of the Kronos Quartet demonstrate and discuss key techniques for Séraphîta: II. Le Baphomet, the second movement of Trey Spruance's piece for Kronos' Fifty for the Future.

Trey Spruance provides rehearsal notes for Séraphîta below:

Trey Spruance provides resources

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Séraphîta Videos

Program Notes

About Séraphîta, Spruance writes:

Séraphîta sets its roots in the work of three Eranos-era colleagues: Henry Corbin, Mircea Eliade, and Gershom Scholem. The quartet is a meditation on a specific complex of works bound together by the common interest of these three colleagues, and its raison d’être is in the overarching theme common to all the works. Concrete historical links and associations exist between all of the elements drawn together by the piece, and these give the impression of a very specific inter-textual hermeneutic going on behind the scenes. Due to the broad aperture required, things of this nature resist quick unveiling in open and direct language, so perhaps the musical means of approaching the subject is all the more apropos.

“The primary work in the canon is Honoré de Balzac’s metaphysic prose Séraphîta (1834), namesake of Movements I and III. Also directly referenced is Pierre Klossowski’s Le Baphomet (Movement II). As a binding agent, mention must also be made of “the Prologue in Heaven” from Goethe’s Faust. Eliade never finished his proposed book on Balzac and Séraphîta, but did complete his study Méphistophélès et l'Androgyne. Corbin, who writes at length on Goethe, and on Méphistophélès in Ahrimanic terms in particular, referenced Balzac’s Séraphîta often, and wrote of Méphistophélès and Séraphîta together in his Configuration of the Temple of the Ka’aba. Corbin and Eliade were both personally acquainted with Klossowski, who publicly praised their works.

“Movement I, ‘Séraphîta,’ is based on the apparition of an angel/androgyne in Balzac’s novel. The character Wilfred perceives the semi-divine Swedenborgian entity as his gendered female daēnā and falls into an agitated state of otherworldly yearning. In the quartet we hear Séraphîta’s answer to Wilfred’s tragically obsessive, misplaced, romantic, and ultimately unconsummatable human love. Her solemn theme travels downward through the angelic hierarchies, acquiring more mass as it descends through a series of conjunct and disjunct tetrachords & time dilations. Her trajectory terminates in an earthy dirge, recapitulating the by-now familiar theme in graven tones.

“Movement II is an ‘Arabesque’ in the strict sense of the word. The content is derived from a method I call ‘Tessellation,’ a rhythmic/melodic pattern permuting in this case in quarter turns. As with tessellation tile work, the ears might hear patterns like the eyes register a tile array. A listener studiously following one of many nodal paths in a larger network of superimposed rhythmic arrays will eventually find themselves hearing everything else ‘upside-down.’ The conjunct and disjunct tetrachords from Movement I are revisited, only now in a more ‘modal’ form, with expansions and modifications of the original theme. 

“The piece finishes with a mirroring of polarities in Movement III. ‘Séraphîtüs’ appears to Balzac’s female character Minna, who perceives the identical entity as her gendered male daēnā. Musically there’s an echo of courtly medieval dance forms, referring to none of them specifically. It’s fitting to take a cue from Lou Harrison’s Estampie and use the cello as a drum. The two main motifs here play off each other in a tension between the zest of the less formal aspect of dance, against the ‘over-determination’ of dance in more formal courtly forms.”

About Trey Spruance


Trey Spruance is best known for his ground-breaking composition and production work in his ensemble Secret Chiefs 3 and the avant-rock band Mr. Bungle. Raised in Eureka, California, Spruance relocated to the Bay Area in 1990, and has toured extensively around the world, performing over 500 concerts in over 50 countries in the past decade. In addition to touring and recording ad infinitum, he also orchestrates his music for various hybrid concert ensembles ranging in diversity from the New Music Works to a 61-piece Russian Traditional Orchestra of Krasnoyarsk. Spruance’s music weaves together a diverse and challenging array of pedagogically conflicting disciplines: early 20th century neoclassical music, Iranian Dastgah, Pythagorean mathematics, Italian horror film music aesthetics (1970s), 19th Century French Occult Musical Theory, Black Metal, and the Bollywood sound.

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Karin Rehnqvist - Sweden

Website: http://karin-rehnqvist.se/eng/biography/
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Program Notes

About The Riddle (Gåtan), Rehnqvist writes:

“A melody winds its way through the instruments of the string quartet.
It begins from nowhere and ends in nothingness. Where did it go?
Where did it come from?

“The melody begins in the viola. It is simple, like a folk tune. The violins and cello comment, support, resist. Note by note, phrase by phrase, the music sounds out its path. Repeated notes go quickly from piano to forte. The music pauses, gathers itself—then bursts forth in a rousing polska. The dance takes off in a triple meter, but an unusual one. The beats are of unequal length: the first short, the second twice as long, the third in between.

“The music keeps changing. It passes through varied soundscapes. After a tumble down to the cello’s deepest notes, it swings up to the giddiest heights of the string registers. Here the atmosphere shimmers and trembles. In the foreground the violins play a duet, imitating each other in short phrases. Finally melody and music return to where they began, but now with a darker, more expressive character.

“Warm and expressive, bright and shimmering; dark and raw, light and airy. String instruments can make so many kinds of sounds. Just changing the manner of bowing can produce a near-infinite variety of timbres. You can play closer to the bridge or to the fingerboard. You can press firmly or lightly on the string. You can throw the bow against the string and let it jump. The string quartet also has a huge register. The cello’s lowest string forms a boundary in the bass, but in the treble, with the help of harmonics, there is almost no limit to how high they can go: up and up, until the ear no longer perceives a pitch, only noise.

“As a composer, I set a process in motion. I search at length for the right idea, the one that sings. Composition takes a long time, so the idea must always be precisely right. What needs to be said? I unfurl my emotional antennae and listen in on the world. Then I let the music lead me. I need it to start ‘writing itself’—showing me its possibilities. The music and I hold a conversation. From a state of deep concentration, something new arises. Notes, forms and rhythms emerge that surprise me. The voices find their paths.

“It is an exciting process, and a demanding one. I knead the musical material. In the finished piece only the indispensable should remain. Sometimes it all grinds to a halt. I stop making progress. The main thing is not to give up. Maybe the music just needs a break, some more time to be sculpted by the subconscious.

“Once the score is in place, I meet the musicians. The rehearsal process is always highly enjoyable! Here the music grows, shaped by dedicated musicians with frequent suggestions and insights based on their knowledge, experience and artistic practice. The music now has a body, a character. From blank staff paper, it now feels self-evident that this particular music should exist.

“So where does the music come from? And where does it go?
Will it sweep out on a parabola into space, to touch down at last in some other string quartet, with some other audience, in some other room?
Will it find its way inside of you and play on there?”

English translation by Robin Blanton

About Karin Rehnqvist


Born in 1957, Karin Rehnqvist is one of Sweden’s best-known and widely performed composers. With regular performances throughout Europe, USA, and Scandinavia, her range extends to chamber, orchestral, stage, and vocal music. Above all, she enjoys working with unusual, cross-genre forms and ensembles. One strong characteristic feature of her work is her exploration of the areas between art and folk music. Both elements are integral and never merely used for effect or as a nostalgic element. In particular, Rehnqvist has explored the extraordinary and dramatic vocal technique of Kulning.

Between 1976 and 1991, Karin Rehnqvist conducted and was the artistic director of the choir Stans Kör. This cemented her special affinity with vocal music and also fired her interest in experimental approaches to concert presentation.

Between 2000 and 2004, Rehnqvist was Composer-in-Residence with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Svenska Kammarorkestern in collaboration. For them she composed a series of works including a concerto for young clarinetist, Martin Fröst, and the much performed symphonic work, Arktis Arktis!, inspired by a polar expedition in the summer of 1999. These two works feature in Rehnqvist’s latest CD on the BIS label, released to critical acclaim in May 2005.

Rehnqvist’s skill at writing for musicians of different abilities, and especially young performers, has often been praised. Most recently her choral symphony Light of Light, which features children’s choir and symphony orchestra, was singled out for critical acclaim at its world premiere in Paris in 2004, and has enjoyed subsequent performances in the UK and Sweden.

Karin Rehnqvist has received many prizes for her music, such as the 1996 Läkerol Arts Award “for her renewal of the relationship between folk music and art music.” That same year, she was awarded the Spelmannen prize by the daily newspaper Expressen, and in 1997 she received the Christ Johnson Prize for Solsången (Sun Song). In 2001, she was awarded the Kurt Atterberg Prize, and in 2005/06, the Rosenberg Award. Also in March 2006, Rehnqvist was accorded the honor of a major retrospective by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2014, Karin Rehnqvist was awarded a Swedish Grammy for the CD LIVE, and Prix Italia for Klockrent – A Very Large Concert, scored for 200 church bells on the island Gotland.

Future plans include an opera, commissioned by The Stockholm Royal Opera. It is expected to premiere during the 2017–18 season.

In 2009, Karin Rehnqvist was appointed Professor of Composition at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, making her the first woman to hold a chair in composition in Sweden.

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Anna Meredith - United Kingdom

Website: http://www.annameredith.com/

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About Anna Meredith


Anna Meredith is a composer, producer, and performer of both acoustic and electronic music. Her sound is frequently described as "maximalist," "uncategorizable," and "genre-hopping," and straddles the different worlds of contemporary classical, avant pop, electronica, and experimental rock.

Her music has been performed everywhere from the BBC's Last Night of the Proms and flashmob body-percussion performances in the M6 Services, to PRADA fashion campaigns, numerous films, installations, documentaries, pop festivals, clubs, and classical concert halls worldwide.

She is also a regular TV and radio guest, judge and panel member on numerous shows, including as Goldie's mentor for the TV show Classic Goldie.

She has been Composer-in-Residence with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, RPS/PRS Composer in the House with Sinfonia ViVA, the classical music representative for the 2009 South Bank Show Breakthrough Award, and winner of the 2010 Paul Hamlyn Award for Composers.

Her recent piece Connect It was written for the BBC’s award winning Ten Pieces scheme, in which half of all UK Primary school children worked on Connect It, while Meredith led broadcasts, workshops, and performances, including a performance at Radio 2’s Proms in the Park for an audience of 40,000 people.

Meredith's two EPs, Black Prince Fury and Jet Black Raider, were released on Moshi Moshi Records to critical acclaim, including Drowned in Sound's Single of the Year.

She performs with her band of classical musicians in a lineup of Anna on clarinet and electronics, alongside two cellists, electric guitar, tuba, and drums. They have performed everywhere from Latitude to Ether festivals, la Gaîté Lyrique, and Le Guess Who, to classical music festivals and residencies.

Recent projects include collaborations with Laura Marling and The Stranglers for the first 6Music Prom, commissions for the Aurora Orchestra, Scottish Ensemble, Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, and The Living Earth Show, Installations for Sleep-Pods in Singapore and Park Benches in Hong Kong, and the world's first Concerto for Beatboxer and Orchestra.

Meredith's debut album Varmints was released on Moshi Moshi/PIAS in March 2016.

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Kala Ramnath - India/USA

Website: http://kalaramnath.com/
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About Amrit

Video: Kala Ramnath demonstrates and discusses key techniques for Amrit, the piece she wrote for Kronos' Fifty for the Future.

Kala Ramnath and arranger Reena Esmail provide performance notes and backing track information for Amrit below.

For players who choose not to or are unable to access the iTablaPro app, click here to download Kronos' backing track in various practice and performance tempos.

Kala Ramnath provides resources

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Amrit Videos

Program Notes

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.”

About Kala Ramnath


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.”

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Philip Glass - USA

Website: http://www.philipglass.com/

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About Philip Glass


Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Philip Glass is a graduate of the University of Chicago and the Juilliard School. In the early 1960s, Glass spent two years of intensive study in Paris with Nadia Boulanger and while there, earned money by transcribing Ravi Shankar’s Indian music into Western notation.

By 1974, Glass had a number of innovative projects, creating a large collection of new music for The Philip Glass Ensemble, and for the Mabou Mines Theater Company. This period culminated in Music in Twelve Parts, and the landmark opera, Einstein on the Beach for which he collaborated with Robert Wilson. Since Einstein, Glass has expanded his repertoire to include music for opera, dance, theater, chamber ensemble, orchestra, and film.

His scores have received Academy Award nominations (Kundun, The Hours, Notes on a Scandal) and a Golden Globe (The Truman Show). Glass’ Symphony No. 7 and Symphony No. 8, along with Waiting for the Barbarians, an opera based on the book by J.M. Coetzee, premiered in 2005. In April 2007, the English National Opera, in conjunction with the Metropolitan Opera, remounted Glass’ Satyagraha, which appeared in New York in April 2008. Glass’ opera Kepler, based on the life and work of Johannes Kepler and commissioned by Linz 2009, Cultural Capital of Europe, and Landestheater Linz, premiered in September 2009 in Linz, Austria and in November 2009 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Symphony #9 was completed in 2011 and premiered in Linz, Austria in January 1, 2012 by the Bruckner Orchestra, followed by a U.S. premiere in New York at Carnegie Hall on January 31, 2012 as part of the composer's 75th birthday celebration. Symphony #10 was completed this spring and received its European premiere in France in the summer of 2012.

In August of 2011, Glass launched the inaugural season of The Days And Nights Festival, a multi-disciplinary arts festival in Carmel / Big Sur, California.

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Guillermo Galindo - Mexico / USA

Website: http://www.galindog.com/

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About Guillermo Galindo


Experimental composer, sonic architect, performance artist, and Jungian Tarotist, Guillermo Galindo redefines the conventional boundaries of music and the practice of music composition. His broad interpretation of concepts such as musical form, time perception, music notation, sonic archetypes, and his original use of sonic devices span through a wide spectrum of artistic works involving symphonic works, chamber acoustic composition, performance art, visual arts, computer interaction, electro-acoustic music, opera, film, instrument building, three-dimensional installation, and live improvisation.

Galindo’s work has been performed and presented at major music festivals, concert halls, museums, and art exhibits throughout the United States, Latin America, Europe, and Asia, and has been featured on BBC Outlook (London), Vice Magazine, (London), National Public Radio (U.S.), CBC (Canada), California Sunday Magazine, Reforma News Paper (Mexico) and the New Yorker Magazine.

A longtime resident composer of Gomez Peña’s Pocha Nostra performance art troupe, and resident composer of the Unbound Spirit AADP Dance Company, Galindo developed his own brand of sonic performance art, including real-time music scoring created in situ.

For the last several years, Galindo has created what he calls cyber-totemic sonic objects: sculptural instruments based on the Pre-Colombian belief that there is an intimate connection between the sound of an object and its material from. Each cyber-totemic instrument becomes the medium through which the spiritual animistic world around us expresses itself. His piece Voces del Desierto, commissioned by Quinteto Latino in 2012, incorporated his first set of cyber-totemic instruments—made from immigrants’ belongings and other objects found at the Mexico/US border—into a traditional Western wind quintet.

The continuation of Galindo’s border instruments project is now part of a larger collaboration with photographer Richard Misrach. Border Cantos, a cross-disciplinary collaboration between these two artists will be shown at several museums in the US and Mexico between 2016 and 2018. In 2016, the exhibit will open at the San Jose Museum of Art, and a book containing Misrach’s photographs and Galindo’s instruments and graphic scores will be released by Aperture Publications. Some of Galindo’s Border Cantos graphic scores can also be found at the Magnolia Editions website.

Guillermo Galindo is currently a senior adjunct professor at the California College of Arts. He has also taught composition at Mills College and has worked as a panelist and tutor for the Jovenes Creadores and the Sistema Nacional de Creadores music composition grants in Mexico City. Recent collaborations include the Paul Dresher ensemble with Amy X Neuburg, writer Juvenal Acosta, and Mexican photographer Maya Goded.

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Aleksander Kościów - Poland

Website: http://culture.pl/en/artist/aleksander-kosciow
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About Hílathi

Aleksander Kościów provides performance notes for the last section of Hílathi below:

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Program Notes

About Hílathi, Kościów writes:

“As the word Eleison (Greek: ἐλέησον) has been adopted by modern European religions, taking over from the corresponding idea of Hílathi (ἴλαθι) in Ancient Greek, it is necessary to elucidate this short musical Mystery in its original, core linguistic and topological senses.
 
“The cry Zmiłuj się (nad nami) (“have mercy [on us]”) is one of those fundamental cathartic experiences in which the drama and mystery of human nature unfolds. Hílathi, directed with hope and repentance towards a being that is above all, defines not only a general aesthetic feeling, but also a specific psychological situation, a situation in which the self-conscious individual collides with reality—a reality in which the very objectiveness of his ‘I’ is based.
 
“Since there is no ‘I’ without Reality (nor does Reality exist outside the drama of ‘I’), Reality cannot exist for the ‘I’ without such collisions (which, depending on the cultural context, might be called ‘sins,’ ‘flaws,’ or ‘evils’). Hílathi expresses the ‘I’’s fundamental reaction: to break free. Without this, there is no escape from pain, but only pain. This 13-minute string quartet Hílathi was written as an attempt to connect this highest topos with a related musical meditation.
 
“The three-movement form is bound up with the outline of this process, which serves as both an inspiration and a message. The first part, preceded by a short preface which introduces all the material of the piece, connects the horizontal with the vertical, the modern and the ancient (realized, respectively, as chords constructed nota-contra-notam and as melodic lines of primordial invocations). The process unfolds in three repeating stages; two forces oppose each other in the first stage, while the final stage attempts to superpose and unite the two.

“In the quartet’s second, briefer section: an emotional cry—whose literal meaning and addressee is left as a question for the individual’s understanding, based on the position of this fragment within the musical process as well as on the subtext of the whole—reveals itself as a thorny knot of interwoven musical ideas and formulas.

“The unraveling of this knot—and of the whole scenario—occurs in the third, final section of this work.”

About Aleksander Kościów


Born in Opole, Poland in 1974, Aleksander Kościów studied composition and viola at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw, where he has been teaching since his graduation. He has given lectures in Germany and the US, and has worked as a visiting professor at Keimyung University in Daegu, South Korea (2009, 2014–15). A laureate of a number of composition competitions, Kościów is recognized for his chamber works (including ten string quartets, and numerous choir and instrumental pieces) and vocal projects, as well as wide array of works from solo miniatures, through theater and modern dance music, to large symphonic-choral pieces.

A Fulbright Scholarship recipient (Junior Grant, 2005), Kościów has also received several scholarships in Poland. Aside from his activity as a composer and teacher, Kościów has published several short stories and essays, as well as three novels, the first of which (Świat nura, 2006) was acclaimed the best debut in Poland, and the second of which (Przeproś, 2008) was nominated for one of Poland’s most important artistic awards, Paszporty “Polityki.”

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Raven Chacon - Navajo Nation/USA

Website: http://spiderwebsinthesky.com/
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About The Journey of the Horizontal People

Video: Members of the Kronos Quartet demonstrate and discuss key techniques for The Journey of the Horizontal People, Raven Chacon's piece for Kronos' Fifty for the Future.

Raven Chacon provides rehearsal notes for The Journey of the Horizontal People below:

Raven Chacon provides resources

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The Journey of the Horizontal People Videos

Program Notes

About The Journey of the Horizontal People, Chacon writes:

The Journey of the Horizontal People is a future creation story telling of a group of people traveling from west to east, across the written page, contrary to the movement of the sun, but involuntarily and unconsciously allegiant to the trappings of time. With their bows, these wanderers sought out others like them, knowing that they could survive by finding these other clans who resided in the east, others who shared their linear cosmologies. It is told that throughout the journey, in their own passage of time, this group became the very people they were seeking.”

About Raven Chacon


Originally from the Navajo Nation, Raven Chacon, born in 1977, is a composer of chamber music, a performer of experimental noise music, and an installation artist. He performs regularly as a solo artist as well as with numerous ensembles in the Southwest and beyond. He is also a member of the Indigenous art collective Postcommodity, with whom he recently premiered the 2-mile long land art/border intervention, Repellent Fence.

Chacon's work explores sounds of acoustic handmade instruments overdriven through electric systems and the direct and indirect audio feedback responses from their interactions. Current and recent collaborators include Laura Ortman, ETHEL String Quartet, Bob Bellerue, John Dieterich, OVO, William Fowler Collins, Ruby Kato Attwood, Jeremy Barnes, Chatter Ensemble, Robert Henke, and The Living Earth Show.

As an educator, Chacon has served as composer-in-residence for the Native American Composer Apprentice Project (NACAP), teaching string quartet composition to hundreds of American Indian high-school students living on reservations in the Southwest U.S. Under his instruction, this project was awarded the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in 2011.

Chacon has an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts where he was a student of James Tenney, Michael Pisaro, and Wadada Leo Smith. He has served on the Music and Native American Studies faculties at the University of New Mexico and as a visiting artist in the New Media Art & Performance program at Long Island University. Chacon has presented his work in different contexts at Vancouver Art Gallery, the Whitney Biennial, documenta 14, REDCAT, Musée d'Art Contemporain de Montréal, San Francisco Electronic Music Festival, Chaco Canyon, Ende Tymes Festival, 18th Biennale of Sydney, and The Kennedy Center, among other traditional and non-traditional venues.


Chacon lives and works in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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Nicole Lizée - Canada

Website: http://www.nicolelizee.com/
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Instructional Videos

Members of Kronos demonstrate and discuss key techniques for Nicole Lizée's Another Living Soul and Darkness Is Not Well Lit.

Another Living Soul Videos

Program Notes

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 rough-hewn 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.”


About Darkness Is Not Well Lit, Lizée writes:

Darkness Is Not Well Lit is a sonic imagining of film noir for string quartet as seen—and heard—from the vantage point of an electric fan.

“Orson Welles’ and John Huston’s film noir calls to mind specific settings, shot in black and white, and playing tricks of light only possible in that medium: the sweltering heat, smoke, fog, sculpted shadows, low-key lighting, a telephone and manual typewriter sitting on an imposing oak desk, a single swinging sputtering light bulb, venetian blinds, and whirring fans.

‘There is no doubt in my mind that the most beautiful music is sad, and the most beautiful photography is in a low-key, with rich blacks.’ – film noir cinematographer, John Alton.

‘Dead men are heavier than broken hearts.’ – Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep”

About Nicole Lizée


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,” Montréal-based 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.

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Laurie Anderson - USA

Website: http://www.laurieanderson.com/
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About Laurie Anderson


Laurie Anderson is one of America’s most renowned—and daring—creative pioneers. She is best known for her multimedia presentations and innovative use of technology. As a musician, writer, director, visual artist, and vocalist she has created groundbreaking works that span the worlds of art, theater, and experimental music.

Her recording career, launched by “O Superman” in 1981, includes the soundtrack to her feature film Home of the Brave and Life on a String (2001). Anderson's live shows range from simple spoken word to elaborate multimedia stage performances such as “Songs and Stories for Moby Dick” (1999). Anderson has published seven books and her visual work has been presented in major museums around the world.

In 2002, Anderson was appointed the first artist-in-residence of NASA which culminated in her 2004 touring solo performance “The End of the Moon.” Recent projects include a series of audio-visual installations and a high definition film, Hidden Inside Mountains, created for World Expo 2005 in Aichi, Japan. In 2007 she received the prestigious Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize for her outstanding contribution to the arts, and in 2008 she completed a two-year worldwide tour of her performance piece, “Homeland,” which was released as an album on Nonesuch Records in June 2010. Anderson’s solo performance “Delusion” debuted at the Vancouver Cultural Olympiad in February 2010. Also in 2010, a retrospective of her visual and installation work opened in São Paulo, Brazil and later traveled to Rio de Janeiro.

In 2011 her exhibition of all new work, titled “Forty-Nine Days In the Bardo,” opened at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia. That same year she was awarded with the Pratt Institute’s Honorary Legends Award. Her exhibition Boat, curated by Vito Schnabel, opened in May of 2012. She has recently finished residencies at both CAP in UCLA in Los Angeles and EMPAC in Troy, New York. Her film Heart of a Dog was chosen as an official selection of the 2015 Venice and Toronto Film Festivals.

Anderson lives in New York City.

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Yotam Haber - Netherlands / Israel / USA

Website: http://www.yotamhaber.com
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Program Notes

About From the Book, Haber writes:

“From the Book is based on the litany Avinu Malkenu from a Jewish liturgical melody from the Piedmont region of Italy. This work continues my cycle of pieces that take their launch point from archival recordings and transcriptions of music from the Italian Jewish community, from Shema (2000), Death will Come and she shall have your eyes (2008), New Ghetto Music (2011), Different Voices together (2011), to, most recently, New Ghetto Songs (2014–2016) written for ensemble and the Neapolitan trip-hop singer Raiz.”

About Yotam Haber


His music hailed by New Yorker critic Alex Ross as “deeply haunting,” by the Los Angeles Times as one of five classical musicians "2014 Faces To Watch," and chosen as one of the “30 composers under 40” by Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s Project 440, Yotam Haber was born in Holland and grew up in Israel, Nigeria, and Milwaukee. He is the recipient of a 2013 Fromm Music Foundation commission, a 2013 NYFA award, the 2007 Rome Prize and a 2005 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. He has received grants and fellowships from the MAP Fund (2016), New Music USA (2011, the New York Foundation for the Arts (2013), the Jerome Foundation (2008, the Bellagio Rockefeller Foundation (2011), Yaddo, Bogliasco, MacDowell Colony, the Hermitage, ASCAP, and the Copland House.

In 2015, Haber’s first monographic album of chamber music, Torus, was hailed by New York’s WQXR as "a snapshot of a soul in flux – moving from life to the afterlife, from Israel to New Orleans – a composer looking for a sound and finding something powerful along the way."

Recent commissions include works for Pritzker Prize–winning architect Peter Zumthor; an evening-length oratorio for the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, CalARTS@REDCAT/Disney Hall (Los Angeles); New York-based Contemporaneous, Gabriel Kahane, and Alarm Will Sound; the 2015 New York Philharmonic CONTACT! Series; the Venice Biennale; Bang on a Can Summer Festival; Neuvocalsolisten Stuttgart and ensemble l’arsenale; FLUX Quartet, JACK Quartet, Cantori New York, the Tel Aviv-based Meitar Ensemble, and the Berlin-based Quartet New Generation.

Current projects include New Water Music, an interactive work (premiering 2017) for the Louisiana Philharmonic and community musicians to be performed from boats and barges along the waterways of New Orleans and a chamber opera, The Voice Imitator, with librettist Royce Vavrek for the 92Y (2018).

Haber is Assistant Professor of Music at the University of New Orleans and Artistic Director Emeritus of MATA, the non-profit organization founded by Philip Glass that has, since 1996, been dedicated to commissioning and presenting new works by young composers from around the world. His music is published by RAI Trade.

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Rhiannon Giddens - USA

Website: http://www.rhiannongiddens.com/
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About Rhiannon Giddens


Singer-songwriter Rhiannon Giddens is the co-founder of the GRAMMY Award–winning string band Carolina Chocolate Drops, in which she also plays banjo and fiddle. She began gaining recognition as a solo artist when she stole the show at the T Bone Burnett–produced Another Day, Another Time concert at New York City’s Town Hall in 2013. The elegant bearing, prodigious voice, and fierce spirit that brought the audience to its feet that night is also abundantly evident on Giddens’ critically acclaimed solo debut, the Grammy-nominated album, Tomorrow Is My Turn, which masterfully blends American musical genres like gospel, jazz, blues, and country, showcasing her extraordinary emotional range and dazzling vocal prowess.

On February 24, 2017, Giddens' follow-up album Freedom Highway will be released. It includes 9 original songs Giddens wrote or co-wrote along with a traditional song and two civil rights–era songs, “Birmingham Sunday” and Staple Singers’ well-known “Freedom Highway,” from which the album takes its name.

Giddens’ recent televised performances include The Late ShowAustin City Limits, Later…with Jools Holland, and both CBS Saturday and Sunday Morning, among numerous other notable media appearances. She performed for President Obama and the First Lady on a White House Tribute to Gospel, along with Aretha Franklin and Emmylou Harris; the program was televised on PBS. Giddens duets with country superstar Eric Church on his powerful anti-racism song “Kill a Word,” which is currently top 15 on country radio; the two have performed the song on The Tonight Show and the CMA Awards, among other programs. Giddens received the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for Singer of the Year and has won the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Bluegrass and Banjo in 2016. In 2017, Giddens was named a MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Grant Winner.

Giddens, who studied opera at Oberlin, makes her acting debut with a recurring role on the recently revived television drama Nashville, which debuts on CMT in January, playing the role of Hanna Lee “Hallie” Jordan, a young social worker with "the voice of an angel.”

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Ken Benshoof - USA

Website: http://kenbenshoof.com/
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Ken Benshoof provides performance notes for sweeter than wine below:

Ken Benshoof provides resources

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Program Notes

About sweeter than wine, Benshoof writes:

“In the spring of 2015, David Harrington suggested I take another look at ‘Kisses Sweeter than Wine.’ I had put a refrain of that tune in the Traveling Music quartet in 1973, a work composed for Kronos. Before that, I had made arrangements and references to it in several other works. (This was a natural outgrowth of an extensive interest in folk music and some aspects of popular American music, a fling with a five-string banjo, and a love of Dorian mode.)

“This year’s view is delicate, with tenderness. It is a gentle walk, nostalgic in its various moods, comfortable in its own quietness, warm in its strengths.”

About Ken Benshoof


Composer/pianist Ken Benshoof was born in 1933 on a Nebraska farm and went through high school in Fairbanks, Alaska. His studies at Pacific Lutheran University and the Spokane Conservatory were followed by a two-year stint in the U.S. Army, a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington, a Master’s at San Francisco State University, and studies in London at the Guildhall School of Music as a Fulbright Scholar. His most influential teachers were Volfgangs Darzins, John Verrall, Roger Nixon, George Frederick McKay, and Alfred Neiman. Benshoof’s music often includes elements of folk and jazz mixed with influences from Scarlatti, Ravel, Ives, Gershwin, Rachmaninoff.

Primarily a composer of chamber pieces, Benshoof has received commissions from a wide variety of sources, most notably the Kronos Quartet, for whom he has produced eight works including Flying Blackbirds (1983) and Song of Twenty Shadows (1994), as well as Traveling Music (1973), the very first composition written for Kronos. Recordings of the last two works noted here were included in Kronos’ 25th anniversary boxed set (1998).

Benshoof served as resident composer at San Diego's Old Globe Theater over several seasons and at the Seattle Repertory Theater for a number of years. Recently retired from a teaching career at the University of Washington, Benshoof resides in Seattle with his wife Theresa who is a cellist with the Seattle Symphony.

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Merlijn Twaalfhoven - Netherlands

Website: http://merlijntwaalfhoven.com/en/
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About Play

Merlijn Twaalfhoven provides performance instructions for Play:

Merlijn Twaalfhoven provides resources

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Program Notes

About Play, Twaalfhoven writes:

“What is music making? Is it high performance? Or can it be ... play? Is it the delivery of an achievement with set expectations or can it be open to the moment, challenge the players and connect everybody?

“In the classical music of today, the separation of performer and listener is very strict and clear. We might forget how for centuries (and still today, outside the conventional concert halls), music was the most effective way to connect, to create together, to participate, to play. Both in religious service as in celebrations or ritual, music establishes a sense of unity.

“Today, our society is fragmented and divided. Can musicians play a role to create new forms of connectedness and community? In this composition, I invite all people that are present to contribute and ... to play.”

About Merlijn Twaalfhoven


Composer Merlijn Twaalfhoven (b.1976) connects styles and cultures, but first of all people. He has worked with symphony orchestras, choirs, and classical soloists as well as rock bands, folk singers, DJs, dance, and theater.

With a passion for spectacular monumental locations—a shipyard, an old factory, on rooftops, in churches, or a submarine—he includes non-Western musical traditions (Japanese, Arabic, Indian) and designs events for places with political and social tension. He has created innovative projects in refugee camps, a Roma ghetto and across dividing lines in Cyprus, Palestine, and Syria, involving children and the local communities, and connecting professional and amateur musicians.

Currently he is working on audience engagement and interactive concerts in the world of classical music, building a network of innovative singers and choirs and developing a method for musicians and other artists to engage more directly in society.

He received an UNESCO award and presented his vision on the role of the artist in society at the Aspen Institute in Washington, the EU Forum in Brussels, TEDxAmsterdam, and at the Aspen Ideas Festival. Kronos premiered Twaalfhoven’s On Parole at Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall in March 2015.

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Tanya Tagaq - Canada

Website: http://tanyatagaq.com
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About Sivunittinni

Video: Kronos' David Harrington and Sunny Yang demonstrate key techniques for Tanya Tagaq's Sivunittinni.

Tanya Tagaq and arranger Jacob Garchik provide detailed rehearsal instructions for Sivunittinni below:

Tanya Tagaq provides resources

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Sivunittinni Videos

Program Notes

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.”

Composition Process

For the composition of Sivunittinni, Tagaq first made several voice recordings, which were then transcribed and arranged for string quartet by Jacob Garchik. Hear Tagaq's original voice recordings here.


About Tanya Tagaq


“Indescribable” is not an appropriate word to begin an artist’s bio, nor is it suitable as a description of a musician. The problem is this: when Tanya Tagaq’s music fills your ears, she is genuinely one of those rare artists whose sounds and styles are truly groundbreaking. “Inuit throat singer” is one part of her sonic quotient. So are descriptions like “orchestral,” “hip-hop-infused,” and “primal,” but these words are not usually used collectively; in the case of Tagaq, however, they are.

So much has happened to Tagaq (b. 1977) since the release of her debut CD Sinaa (meaning “edge” in her ancestral language of Inuktitut) in 2005. The Nunavut-born singer has not just attracted the attention of some of the world’s most groundbreaking artists, they have invited her to participate on their own musical projects, not just singularly, but repeatedly. Tagaq has recently recorded once again with Björk (specifically on the soundtrack for the Matthew Barney film Drawing Restraint 9), having already appeared on Björk’s Medúlla CD in 2004 and accompanied her on the Vespertine tour. In 2007, another monumental collaborative project came to fruition when the Kronos Quartet invited Tagaq to participate—as co-writer and performer—on a project aptly titled Nunavut, which has been performed at select venues across North America, from its January 2008 debut at the Chan Centre in Vancouver, to New York’s Carnegie Hall. Acclaim and respect has followed Tagaq on her solo ventures as well: both Sinaa and Auk / Blood were nominated for Juno Awards (Best Aboriginal Recording and Best Instrumental Recording, respectively). Both recordings won in several categories at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards, including Best Female Artist.

Tagaq’s stunning video Tungijuq, on which she collaborated with Jesse Zubot and Montréal filmmakers Felix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphael, won the best short film award at the ImagiNative Film and Arts Festival, and screened at the Toronto International Film Festival (2009) and the Sundance Film Festival (2010). In 2014, her album Animism was awarded the Polaris Music Prize. In 2015, a recording of Derek Charke’s Tundra Songs, written for the Kronos Quartet and Tagaq was released.

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Franghiz Ali-Zadeh - Azerbaijan / Germany

Website: http://www.sikorski.de/229/en/ali_zadeh_franghiz.html
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About Reqs (Dance)

Program Notes

About Rǝqs, Ali-Zadeh writes:

Rǝqs means ‘dance’ in Azerbaijani as well as in all other Turkic languages. In Azerbaijan, many different dances have existed since time immemorial: for men and women, heroic and lyric, fast and slow. And the tradition of accompanying all important life events with all kinds of dances has been preserved to the present day: engagements and weddings, harvests and farewells, birthdays and even dates of death. There are also burial dances that accompany the farewell to the deceased person. In this respect, the dance tradition remains very strong and current in Azerbaijan today, especially in rural areas. In my new piece for the Kronos Quartet, I have attempted to reflect some of the rhythms and configurations of Azerbaijani dances."

About Franghiz Ali-Zadeh


Franghiz Ali-Zadeh is one of the leading composers of our time, highly regarded for her creativity and distinctive style. Throughout her career, she has made a significant contribution to dialogue between cultures, promoting exchange and the mutual enrichment of the spiritual treasures of East and West. Her compositions draw from the vocabulary of modern European classical music and incorporate the sounds of mugham music traditional to Azerbaijan.

Ali-Zadeh was born in Azerbaijan in 1947. She studied the piano and composition at the Baku Conservatory, from which she graduated as a pianist in 1970 and as composer in 1972. In 1976 she began to teach musicology at the Baku Conservatory, where she has been professor of Contemporary Music and the History of Orchestral Styles since 1990.

She is one of the pioneers of “new music” in the former Soviet Union and Azerbaijan. As a pianist, she performs at international festivals, playing programs that include the works of the Second Viennese School, as well as works by Crumb, Messiaen, and Schoenberg, composers she has popularized for Eastern audiences. She is recognized as a master interpreter of works by 20th century European and American composers, the Soviet avant garde, and traditional Azerbaijani composers.

In 1976, Ali-Zadeh first introduced herself to a western audience at the Pesaro Music Festival with her composition Piano Sonata in memoriam Alban Berg. In 1999, she was the first female “Composer in Residence” to be invited to the Internationale Musikwochen in Lucerne. In 2000, she received a fellowship from Akademie der Kuenste in Berlin, where she has lived primarily since that time.

In 1980 Ali-Zadeh received the prize of the Azerbaijani Composers’ Union, and in 1990 she was named “Meritorious Artist” of the Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republic. In November 2000 she received the honorary title of “People’s Artist of the Republic of Azerbaijan” and was named “UNESCO Artist for Peace” in 2008. Franghiz Ali-Zadeh has been awarded many national honors by the Republic of Azerbaijan, including the Order of Glory in 2007, the Ugur award (“award of success”) in 2009, and the Zirve award (“top prize”) in 2011.

Ali-Zadeh’s catalogue of works includes solo, chamber, ensemble, and orchestral music. Ensembles and orchestras throughout the world play her music with enthusiasm. In a unique way, Ali-Zadeh succeeds in blending the musical traditions of her homeland with modern western compositional techniques. Her music is performed at festivals internationally. Numerous works of Ali-Zadeh have served as ballet music (in Helsinki, New York, Berlin, Singapore, and London).

Ali-Zadeh has written three pieces for the Kronos Quartet, Mugam Sayagi (1993), Oasis (1998), and Aspheron Quintet (2001), all recorded on an album of her music released by Kronos in 2005.

Interpreters such as Mstislav Rostropovich, Yo-Yo Ma, Evelyn Glennie, Ivan Monighetti, David Geringas, Julius Berger, Wu Man, Alexander Ivashkin, Alim Qasimov, Vladimir Tonkha, Elsbeth Moser, and many others have all performed her music. Most recently, violinist Hilary Hahn performed her piece Impulse on her world tour and recorded it on her Grammy-nominated album 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores.

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Fodé Lassana Diabaté - Mali

Website: http://www.facebook.com/triodakali
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About Sunjata's Time

Kronos gives individual insight on Fodé Lassana Diabaté’s “Sunjata’s Time” in the Resnick Education Wing as part of the week-long Kronos Quartet Workshop presented by the Weill Music Institute of Carnegie Hall.

Sunjata's Time Videos

Program Notes

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 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 present-day 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. (This movement is 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 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. (This movement is 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

Composition Process

For the composition of Sunjata’s Time, Diabaté first recorded the piece on his own instrument, the balafon. The recording was then transcribed and arranged for string quartet by Jacob Garchik. Hear Diabaté’s original balafon recordings here.


About Fodé Lassana Diabaté


Fodé Lassana Diabaté is a virtuoso balafon (22-key xylophone) player. He was born in 1971 into a well-known griot family and began playing balafon at the age of five with his father, Djelisory Diabaté, a master balafon player. Diabaté later apprenticed himself to celebrated balafon masters such as El Hadj Djeli Sory Kouyaté and Alkali Camara. To this day, Diabaté cherishes the now rare recordings of his mentors, whose unique styles continue to be an important inspiration to him.

In the late 1980s, Diabaté was 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 has collaborated with international artists across a number of genres including jazz and Latin music, and was a member of the Grammy-nominated Mali-Cuba collaboration, Afrocubism. He is the leader of Trio Da Kali, a group of Malian griots whose aim is to bring back forgotten repertoires and styles of the Mande griot tradition. Trio Da Kali made its US debut at Cal Performances’ Zellerbach Hall at UC Berkeley as part of Kronos’ 40th Anniversary celebration concert in December 2013. A second performance with Kronos took place a few months later at The Clarice, University of Maryland. The Kronos-Trio Da Kali collaboration was made possible by the Aga Khan Music Initiative.

Trio Da Kali has also performed to great critical acclaim at the Royal Albert Hall for the Proms Festival (2013), the South Bank for the London Jazz Festival, and Paris’ Théâtre de la Ville, and toured the UK in February 2015 in the series "Making Tracks." Trio Da Kali’s eponymous debut album, released by World Circuit Records in March 2015, includes two remarkable balafon solos by Diabaté.

Diabaté’s style of playing balafon is unique in its range of expressive tone and lyrical melodies, and he has perfected the complex art of carving—and tuning—the smoked rosewood keys of the balafon, a craft he learned in Guinea.

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Wu Man - China / USA

Website: http://www.wumanpipa.org
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About Four Chinese Paintings

Video: Wu Man demonstrates and discusses key techniques in her Fifty for the Future piece, “Four Chinese Paintings.” Participating quartets, Ligeti, Argus, and Friction Quartets, perform excerpts as part of the Kronos Quartet Workshop presented by the Weill Music Institute of Carnegie Hall.

Notes on I. Gobi Desert at Sunset begin at 4:03
Notes on II. Turpan Dance begin at 5:20
Notes on III. Ancient Echo begin at 6:26
Notes on IV. Silk and Bamboo begin at 7:40

Four Chinese Paintings Videos

Program Notes

About Four Chinese Paintings, Wu Man writes:

“After two decades of collaborating with the Kronos Quartet, I am finally beginning to understand Western string instruments. With the group’s encouragement and support, I was able to write this—my first composition for string quartet.

"Four Chinese Paintings is a suite consisting of four short pieces. In traditional Chinese music, there is often a poetic title that serves as a prompt foundation for musical content and style. I decided to continue this traditional form in this piece by presenting four traditional Chinese paintings.

"The inspiration for these paintings came from several styles of Chinese folk music, including Uyghur music (western China, border of Central Asia) and tea-house music from my hometown of Hangzhou. My wish is for the audience to experience—to ‘see’—the Chinese landscapes, and to hear each of the four stories in their local dialects. More importantly, listeners will experience Chinese culture.

"Writing a piece for string quartet was a great challenge for me. Though I have written and improvised countless works for the pipa, composing for Western string instruments was a brand new experience. My creative process began with improvising on the pipa, building layer upon layer until I had all four instrumental parts composed. I then worked with Danny Clay to arrange the piece.

“I’d like to thank Kronos for their trust and encouragement, for letting me be a part of their Fifty for the Future project, and for giving me this opportunity to share my musical culture with young string quartets around the world!”

Composition Process

Wu Man initially developed the framework of Four Chinese Paintings in traditional Chinese musical notation (the numbered system), as seen here in her original score for the fourth movement, “Silk and Bamboo.”

  • Numbers 1–7 correspond to the seven notes in a diatonic major scale

  • A dot above a note raises it one octave, while a dot below a note lowers it one octave

  • A plain number represents a quarter note, and each underline halves the note length. (i.e. one underline = eighth note; two underlines = sixteenth note; etc.)

Learn more about Chinese musical notation here.

For the composition of Four Chinese Paintings, Wu Man first recorded the piece on her own instrument, the pipa. After recording the first layer, she then improvised three more layers, one on top of the other, resulting in the four-part pipa tracks here. The recording was then transcribed and arranged for string quartet by Danny Clay into the string quartet arrangement. Hear Wu Man’s original pipa recordings here.

About Wu Man


Recognized as the world’s premier pipa virtuoso and leading ambassador of Chinese music, Grammy Award–nominated musician Wu Man has carved out a career as a soloist, educator, and composer, giving her lute-like instrument—which has a history of over 2,000 years in China—a new role in both traditional and contemporary music. Through numerous concert tours, Wu Man has premiered hundreds of new works for the pipa, while spearheading multimedia projects to both preserve and create awareness of China’s ancient musical traditions. Her adventurous spirit and virtuosity have led to collaborations across artistic disciplines, allowing her to reach wider audiences as she works to break through cultural and musical borders. Wu Man’s efforts were recognized when she was named Musical America’s 2013 Instrumentalist of the Year, the first time this prestigious award has been bestowed on a player of a non-Western instrument.

Orchestral highlights of the 2014–15 season include a performance of Lou Harrison’s Pipa Concerto with The Knights, as well as Zhao Jiping’s Pipa Concerto No. 2 with the Canton Symphony Orchestra, Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, and Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. In recital, Wu Man takes a new program, “Journey of Chinese Pipa,” to London, Sydney, and Dortmund. The solo recital explores the history of pipa repertoire, ranging from traditional folksongs to original compositions by Wu Man herself. After her first collaboration with the Kronos Quartet in 1993, Wu Man has since worked frequently with the group for over 20 years. She rejoined the Kronos in 2015 at Cal Performances to perform Terry Riley’s The Cusp of Magic, which was composed on the occasion of the composer’s 70th birthday. This performance marked the work’s 10th anniversary, as well as the Riley's 80th birthday. A principal member of the Silk Road Ensemble, Wu Man performed with the eclectic group in a concert with the New York Philharmonic.

Born in Hangzhou, China in 1963, Wu Man studied with Lin Shicheng, Kuang Yuzhong, Chen Zemin, and Liu Dehai at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, where she became the first recipient of a master's degree in pipa. Accepted into the conservatory at age 13, Wu Man’s audition was covered by national newspapers and she was hailed as a child prodigy, becoming a nationally recognized role model for young pipa players. In 1985 she made her first visit to the United States as a member of the China Youth Arts Troupe. Wu Man moved to the U.S. in 1990 and currently resides with her husband and son in California.

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Garth Knox - Ireland / France

Website: http://www.garthknox.org/
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About Satellites

Video: Garth Knox demonstrates and discusses key techniques in his Fifty for the Future piece, “Satellites.” Participating quartets, Ligeti, Argus, and Friction Quartets, perform excerpts as part of the Kronos Quartet Workshop presented by the Weill Music Institute of Carnegie Hall.

Notes on I. Geostationary begin at 0:00
Notes on II. Spectral Sunrise begin at 9:18
Notes on III. Dimensions begin at 18:13

Garth Knox provides resources

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Satellites Videos

Program Notes

About Satellites, Knox writes:

“In space, the seemingly simple idea of standing still becomes a complex notion, demanding great precision and enormous effort, and is achievable only by travelling at great speed. In ‘Geostationary,’ I wanted to capture this paradox in music, with always at least one instrument (usually the viola) in perpetual mechanical motion while the violins try to float their static melody—which never succeeds in leaving the starting note behind and falls back each time into the vacuum. At regular intervals their stationary orbit sweeps our four astronauts through the same meteor shower where they are bombarded by high-energy micro-particles scattering in every direction.

“‘Spectral Sunrise’ was inspired by hearing an astronaut talking on the radio of seeing several sunrises a day when he was in space, and the undiminishing wonder he felt each time at the intensity of the light and the absolute darkness which followed. I wanted to combine this idea with a type of slow movement commonly used by baroque composers, which is sometimes just a few simple chords over which the players improvise. In this piece we hear three sunrises in three minutes, each one followed by darkness illuminated only by a short improvisation by one of the players. “‘

Dimensions’ deals with the many possible dimensions which surround us, represented by the physical movements of the bow. In the first dimension, only vertical movement is possible, then only horizontal movement, then only circular, then the two sides of the bow (the stick and the hair) express a binary choice. 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 fireworks!”

About Garth Knox


Garth Knox (b. 1956) is one of today’s leading performers of contemporary music, and his vast experience as a member of first 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.

Garth Knox’s solo and ensemble pieces have been played all over Europe, USA, and Japan. Viola Spaces, an ongoing series of concert studies for viola published in 2010 by Schott, combines groundbreaking 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.

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Aleksandra Vrebalov - Serbia / USA

Website: http://aleksandravrebalov.com
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About My Desert, My Rose

Aleksandra Vrebalov provides detailed rehearsal instructions for My Desert, My Rose:

Aleksandra Vrebalov provides resources

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Program Notes

About My Desert, My Rose, Vrebalov writes:

My Desert, My Rose consists of a series of patterns open in length, meter, tempo, and dynamics, different for each performer. The unfolding of the piece is almost entirely left to each performer’s sensibility and responsiveness to the parts of other members of the group. Instinct and precision are each equally important in the performance of the piece. The patterns are (notated as) suggested rather than fixed musical lines, so the flow and the length of the piece are unique to each performance. The lines merge and align to separate and then meet again, each time in a more concrete and tighter way. The piece ends in a metric unison, like a seemingly coincidental meeting of the lines predestined to reunite. It is like a journey of four characters that start in distinctly different places who, after long searching and occasional, brief meeting points, end up in the same space, time, language.

“The writing of this piece, in a form as open and as tightly coordinated at the same time, was possible thanks to 20 years of exposure to rehearsal and performance habits of the Kronos Quartet, a group for which I have written 13 out of 14 of my pieces involving string quartet."

Composition Process

Vrebalov begins her composition process by drawing and painting the images, colors, and textures she envisions for her piece. Through these drawings, she is able to reveal the shape of her composition and the timing of specific events, as well as each player’s movements and reactions to one another, all of which is gradually translated into musical notation.

See some of Vrebalov’s initial paintings and sketches here, and watch her Composer Interview to learn more about her process.

About Aleksandra Vrebalov


Aleksandra Vrebalov (b. 1970) moved to the United States from her native Serbia in 1995. She has had her works performed by Kronos Quartet, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, clarinetists David Krakauer and David Griffiths, ETHEL and Momenta Quartets, guitarist Jorge Caballero, National Opera of Serbian National Theater, and Belgrade Philharmonic, among others. Vrebalov has written or arranged nine works for Kronos.

Vrebalov has received numerous commissions from institutions and ensembles that include Carnegie Hall, Fromm Foundation, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Kronos Quartet, Dusan Tynek Dance Theater, ASCAP, Barlow Endowment, Clarice Smith Center, and Merkin Hall.

Festivals featuring Vrebalov’s work include Edinburgh International Festival, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, BBC Proms, Ravinia, Interzone, and Bemus.

Vrebalov has held residences at the American Opera Projects and American Lyric Theater, Rockefeller Bellagio Center, MacDowell Colony, New York’s New Dramatists, Tanglewood, and most recently at the Hermitage Artist Retreat and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program.

Named 2011 Composer of the Year by Muzika Klasika (for Mileva, an opera commissioned by the Serbian National Theater for its 150th anniversary season), Vrebalov has received awards from American Academy of Arts and Letters, Vienna Modern Masters, ASCAP, Meet the Composer, MAP Fund, Douglas Moore Foundation and two Mokranjac Awards given by Serbian Association of Composers for best work premiered in the country in 2010 and 2012.

Her works have been released on Nonesuch, Centaur Records, Innova, and Vienna Modern Masters labels, and choreographed by Dusan Tynek (NYC), Rambert Dance Company (UK), Take Dance (NYC), Scottish Dance Theater, and Providence Festival Ballet.

Vrebalov's music has been used in two films about atrocities of war: Soul Murmur directed by Helen Doyle (Canada) and Slucaj Kepiro by Natasa Krstic (Serbia), and her latest work for Kronos Quartet, Beyond Zero, with a film by Bill Morrison, was written in commemoration of the World War One centennial.

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