Kronos’ Fifty for the Future Composers

Aleksandra Vrebalov - Serbia / USA

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About My Desert, My Rose

Video: Members of Kronos Quartet and composer Aleksandra Vrebalov share individual insights about My Desert, My Rose.

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

Aleksandra Vrebalov provides resources

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My Desert, My Rose Videos

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.

Aleksandra Vrebalov's My Desert, My Rose was commissioned as part of the Kronos Performing Arts Association’s Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire, which is made possible by a group of adventurous partners, including Carnegie Hall and many others.

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