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October 21, 2016

Kronos’ Fifty for the Future featured in Strings magazine

Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the magazine that covers classical and new music around the world, the December issue of Strings spotlights Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire as its cover feature. Read the article >

In the article, Kronos Quartet’s artistic director, founder, and violinist David Harrington reveals the main inspiration for the project: “There was always some reason why the music we suggested didn’t arrive at the school [in time for our coaching and mentoring sessions], and then they would say, ‘Oh, well, actually, we’re going to be doing Schubert, today.’ Which is fine. I love Schubert as much as the next guy, but it’s not what we do. So we decided to circumvent all of the excuses we’ve heard for our entire career, all the reasons why people can’t learn and play the kind of music we play. Now, that music is there, it’s online, and it’s free. And it’s as accurately edited as possible. We are working hard to get every slur, every accidental, and every indication the composer has in mind—to get this amazing music as correctly notated as possible.”

Janet Cowperthwaite, managing director of the Kronos Performing Arts Association, adds, “What sets Fifty for the Future apart is ease of access. One need not write in for permission. You don’t have to track down any agents or managers. And best of all, no money changes hands. Anyone with internet access and a printer can get this music, instantly.

She explains how this is possible: “Our organization does own these works. That’s something we talk to the composers about at the front end of our conversation, because it’s different. The reason we need to own them is that we need to have the right to give them away for free. The first 20 composers we’ve worked with have been really delighted to be a part of this, and there has been no intense conversation around wanting higher fees because they are giving up ownership. I think they all understand that this is about education, and access, and giving something to future generations of string players.”

Ten works that range widely in skill level and style are currently available – scores and parts, recordings, and supplemental pedagogical and musicological resources – all for free. Forty more will follow in the coming years. David says of these, “I want [Fifty for the Future] to be wild and free and mysterious. But I am hoping it will always be as inclusive of creativity and ideas about life as possible. I want our music to always have viewpoints, surprising and unexpected viewpoints, ways of looking at life and society, ways that can give us energy and hope, and perhaps a new ability or a new skillset with which to deal with the world we are all a part of right now.”

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