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“A technical first:” Kronos performs first live concert in four months from separate locations in San Francisco

On Saturday, July 11, Kronos performed live for an audience for the first time since March, when all of its concerts for the remainder of the year were canceled due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Even though David, John, Hank, and Sunny were in different locations in San Francisco, they still were able to close out the Slovakia-based Pohoda in the Air online festival for viewers worldwide. Kronos’ networked performance was made possible by an ongoing partnership with the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics at Stanford University.

CCRMA’s JackTrip, a free, open-source program that supports bidirectional, high quality, uncompressed audio streaming with any number of channels, allowed David, John, Hank and Sunny to overcome the latency inherent in video conferencing softwares so that they could collaborate musically in real-time over the internet. Dr. Chris Chafe, director of the CCRMA, says, “It’s fair to say that this was a technical first: the first metro-scale very low-latency gig with an audience. Concertizing from separate locations, even in the same geographic region, at this level is still in its infancy. JackTrip’s team has been working with the Kronos Performing Arts Association for more than three months to make a performance like this possible. It was a memorable example of experimentation and dedication. We all learned a lot and no one gave up, but we also know there’s still more to do.” To learn more about latency and how JackTrip works, check out this NPR Music feature.

In addition to the live networked performances of a Jimi Hendrix-inspired arrangement of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” an excerpt of John Oswald’s Spectre, and an arrangement of “Alap” from Ram Narayan’s Raga Mishra Bhairavi, the live stream broadcast included archival concert footage of an arrangement of Konono Nº1’s “Kule Kule” from the 2017 Switchboard Music Festival in San Francisco and “One Earth, One People, One Love” from Terry Riley’s Sun Rings that was recorded at the 2018 World Music Expo (WOMEX) in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain. During Pohoda in the Air, Kronos also premiered an expanded performance of “Salam Aleykom,” a theme by Hassan Kassai re-imagined by Sahba Aminikia, that now includes 44 artists from 13 different countries.

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