Kronos’ Fifty for the Future Composers

Ken Benshoof - USA

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About sweeter than wine

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.”

Ken Benshoof's sweeter than wine 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.

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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