KRONOS FESTIVAL PROGRAM #1: program notes
ZonelyHearts, Episode 1: Televortex (2021) world premiere
After a week of binge-watching mid-century, sci-fi TV shows, a string quartet experiences strange occurrences during their rehearsals…and their everyday lives.
Episode 1: Televortex
Second violinist John Sherba’s TV remote control stops working with unexpected consequences that impact the entire quartet. Phone calls are received.
Nicole Lizée’s ZonelyHearts was commissioned for the Kronos Quartet by Andrea Lunsford and the Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English Centennial.
Requiem for a Dream, a feature film directed and co-written by Darren Aronofsky, was adapted from the 1978 novel by Hubert Selby, Jr. Set on the streets of Coney Island, Brooklyn, the film is a harrowing journey into the psyches of four people addicted to their visions of a happier life.
Mansell first worked with Aronofsky when he composed the original score for PI in 1997. Since then, Mansell has worked on scores and soundtracks for such films as World Traveler (2002) and Abandon (2002) and produced remixes from PI and Requiem for a Dream. Their most recent collaboration, also featuring performances by Kronos, can be heard on the soundtrack to The Fountain (2006), which was nominated for a Best Original Score Golden Globe Award and won 2007 World Soundtrack Awards for Best Original Score of the Year and the Public Choice Award. Mansell’s music for Requiem for a Dream has become extremely popular, appearing in numerous film trailers and sampled by artists ranging from Paul Oakenfold to Lil Jon.
The soundtrack to Requiem for a Dream, featuring the Kronos Quartet, was released on Nonesuch Records.
About Tattoo, Soo Yeon Lyuh writes:
“Tattoo emerges from an incident in Berkeley, California in which someone fired a gun at my car out of the blue. I was with my son and mother. Luckily, the bullet missed us by an inch. Ever since, we have been left with a harrowing memory, a tattoo on our minds, that doesn’t seem to fade away except when retouching it by way of music. We survivors just never really talked about it for years until my son Alvin got brave enough to write about it in a short essay, on which this piece is based. My heartfelt thanks go to Alvin for initiating this, and to Kronos, for trusting that I’ll be okay no matter what, and for being a shelter where I can really face myself.”
Soo Yeon Lyuh’s Tattoo was commissioned by the Kronos Festival with support from the Korean Cultural Center, Los Angeles.
About Little Black Book, Jlin writes:
“I chose the name Little Black Book because there is a black notebook that I own that I literally write down every creative idea I have in it. It is my book of absolute freedom. The book is very special to me, as it was given to me on my twenty-first birthday by my eldest cousin. When Kronos approached me about doing this project I was quite ecstatic, and immediately knew I wanted to take this on from a perspective of absolute freedom of sound. I didn’t care how crazy it sounded, I just wanted the instruments and choice of instruments to be free. Freedom was my goal no matter how left-field or unconventional. I love that Kronos decided to play this track as they deemed fit versus trying to follow what I did.”
Jlin’s Little Black Book was commissioned as part of the Kronos Performing Arts Association’s 50 for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire, which is made possible by a group of adventurous partners, including Carnegie Hall and many others.
KRONOS FESTIVAL Science Report: Spiders
with Alyssa Tam, correspondent
Filmed by Jung Park
Script by Fionn Quinn
Video edited by Kayla LaCour
inti figgis-vizueta’s Music for Transitions was commissioned & premiered by Andrew Yee for the National Sawdust Digital Discovery Festival, Volume 1, July 2020.
Hawa Kassé Mady Diabaté’s latest musical project, Tegere Tulon, takes her back to her roots and forwards into the realm of composition. Commissioned to compose a piece for Kronos’ 50 for the Future project, Hawa decided to revisit the handclapping songs of her childhood, which were such formative experiences for her, and which are gradually dying out except in remote villages.
Performed exclusively by girls outdoors in a circle, usually on moonlit nights, the handclapping songs are normally very short, consisting of one or two phrases repeated in call and response, often involving counting, each one with its own dance. Children make them up spontaneously, using the rhythms of language to generate musical rhythm, with playful movements, some individual, some coordinated by the whole circle. Building on her own memories of the handclapping songs she used to do as a young girl in Kela, Hawa has created four new pieces in handclapping style, which she hopes will encourage Malians not to abandon this rich cultural heritage. The lyrics are humorous and poignant—they talk about the importance of family, the teasing relationship between kalime “cross-cousins” (a man’s children and his sister’s children are cross-cousins), a girl who loves dancing so much she falls into a well and then climbs out, and how long it takes to get to Funtukuru, her husband’s village, where she went to film handclapping.
Wawani is the fourth of Hawa’s Tegere Tulon songs, and is an onomatopoeic term in Maninka for the sound that people make when celebrating. Hawa describes this song as a ‘sewa tulunke,’ a song for entertainment and enjoyment, specifically aimed at neighbours. It is in two parts. The first is about the importance of solidarity and understanding, whether between family members, friends, or neighbours. The second is in praise of a particular type of person known as ‘soma,’ who has special mystical powers and is wise, a kind of wizard, but also feared and misunderstood. In pre-colonial times, the term soma (sometimes translated as “sorcerer”) was often synonymous with kingship, since rulers were believed to have esoteric power. Hawa advises people not to reject such a person, since they have the gift of bringing good things to the world; she compares the soma to the Prophet Musa (Moses). The name Musa is considered so powerful that it is normally referred to by the nickname Bala (porcupine).
Program note by Professor Lucy Durán
Hawa Kassé Mady Diabaté’s Tegere Tulon was commissioned as part of the Kronos Performing Arts Association’s 50 for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire, which is made possible by a group of adventurous partners, including Carnegie Hall and many others.
Fledge is a part of the series Music Figures, which combines elements of music box automata, painting and collage. Music boxes are often associated with childhood dreams and innocence. Music Figures incorporate these elements and also represents fantasy, brokenness and nostalgia.
I’ll have wings in your air
I’ll be a wave in your voice
I’ll be a flame in your flickering heat, in my cries of wanting you
Bitterly I’ll twist in the veins of your vines
I’ll be a stubborn cloud in the tears of my grief for you
I’ll grow green in my sorrow for your passing years
I’ll stay in love in the sun above your mountain tops
I’ll be tears in the purity of your streams
at one with my limitless hope for you
Translation by Dick Davis
Translator’s note: The title, “Vaya, Vaya,” is the same word twice: it is a lamentation, an expression of grief—while it is similar to “Alas!” in English, the Persian word here is more colloquial, so as to mean “O God!” or “God help me!”
بال گيرم در هوايت
اوج گيرم در صدايت
شعله شوم در هرم واياوايت
تلخ وار پيچم در رگ تاك هايت
ابر سركش شوم در آبى هاى خيالت
وايا وايا وايا وايا
سبز شوم در اندوه ساليانت
عاشق مانم بر آفتاب كوهسارانت
اشك شوم در زلال جويبارانت
همنفس با بيكران اميد هايت
وايا وايا وايا وايا
About Vaya, Vaya, Mahsa Vahdat writes:
“Vaya, Vaya is a deep expression of Love to a beloved, constantly transforming into a homeland. Since the pandemic arrived in California in March 2020, for more than one year, the most visited place for me has been a place in Berkeley where the Rose garden is situated. I walked there almost every day at the time of Sunset, the moment when the Sun turns its glow to my motherland where my breath is interwoven with its soil, the moment when darkness and light embrace each other and when the intense red, dark blue, and golden rays in the clouds create a unique image, while passion, rebellion, glow, hope, and sorrow entwine.
“With my deep longing and desire for my motherland these words and music came to me like a wonder. This zone in Berkeley is one of my dear zones in life. Wherever I roam in the world, this place will always remain in my heart.”
Vaya, Vaya, music by Mahsa Vahdat and Atabak Elyasi, and visuals by Laurie Olinder, was commissioned for the Kronos Quartet by the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies at Stanford University, with additional support from the Kronos Performing Arts Association.
Pete Seeger and the American Folklife Center (2021)
By Todd Harvey and the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress
Pete Seeger wrote this song in about 20 minutes while traveling to a concert at Oberlin College. Leafing through his notebook, he came across three lines he had jotted down years earlier, originally from the Cossack folk song “Koloda Duda”:
Where are the flowers? The girls have plucked them
Where are the girls? They’ve taken husbands
Where are the men? They’re all in the army
He fashioned these into verses, added his own touches (“Long time passing” and “When will they ever learn?”), and found them a home in the melody of an Irish-Adirondack lumber camp song.
Folk singer Joe Hickerson, who would go on to become a longtime archivist at the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center, eventually took “Flowers” and added the later verses about soldiers and graveyards. Covered by The Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul and Mary, the song quickly spread across the world charts—it even hit the top in Germany after Marlene Dietrich recorded her version in 1958. It also spread from soldier to soldier during the American war in Vietnam.
Jacob Garchik’s arrangement of Where Have All The Flowers Gone? is part of Kronos Quartet’s Music for Change: Pete Seeger @ 100, which was commissioned by the FreshGrass Foundation for the 2019 FreshGrass Festival at MASS MoCA, and recorded for the 2020 album Long Time Passing: Kronos Quartet & Friends Celebrate Pete Seeger (Smithsonian Folkways).
Sometime I feel like a motherless child world premiere
Traditional (arr. Stacy Garrop for Glorious Mahalia)
Film by Nurie K. Mohamed
featuring Tadi Todi, dancer, and the recorded performance of Mahalia Jackson with Mildred Falls
About Glorious Mahalia, Stacy Garrop writes:
“Louis ‘Studs’ Terkel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and oral historian, hosted a daily nationally syndicated radio broadcast show from Chicago’s WFMT station from 1952 to 1997. Studs’ curious, inquisitive nature led him to interview people from all walks of life over the course of his career. For WFMT alone, he conducted over 5,000 interviews. Before he worked for WFMT, Studs had a radio program called ‘The Wax Museum’ on WENR in Chicago. It was on this radio network that Studs first featured the glorious voice of Mahalia Jackson.
“Studs heard Mahalia sing for the first time around 1946. He was in a record store in Chicago when Mahalia’s voice rang out over the store’s speakers. Studs was captivated; he had to meet the woman who possessed that remarkable voice. At that time, Mahalia was gaining fame as a singer of gospels and spirituals in black churches both within Chicago and out of it, as she did a fair amount of touring around the country. Outside of these black communities, however, Mahalia wasn’t yet known. With a little sleuthing, Studs discovered where she regularly sang, at the Greater Salem Baptist Church on the South Side of Chicago. Studs went to the church, introduced himself to Mahalia, and invited her to sing on his radio program. Studs and Mahalia developed a close friendship over the ensuing decades, and they occasionally worked together professionally. As Mahalia rose to international fame and became known as the greatest gospel singer of her time, she and Studs never lost contact.
“In researching WFMT’s Studs Terkel Radio Archive, I found several broadcasts when Studs featured Mahalia Jackson and her recordings on his show. Two broadcasts in particular stood out. The first broadcast occurred in 1963, when the pair sat down for a conversation that covered a wide range of topics, including Mahalia’s experiences of working in the South, the continuing hardships she faces being a woman of color, and the civil rights efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Reverend Ralph Abernathy, and many others (including Mahalia, who was a staunch supporter of Dr. King). The second broadcast dates from 1957; it features Mahalia performing a number of gospels and spirituals for a live audience at a hotel in Chicago. In crafting my composition, I decided to highlight many of the salient points of Studs’ and Mahalia’s 1963 discussion, with a musical performance from the 1957 concert featured prominently in the work.
“Glorious Mahalia consists of five movements, the fourth of which is presented here, featuring Mahalia’s soulful performance of the spiritual Sometime I feel like a motherless child.
“Kronos Quartet commissioned Glorious Mahalia for Carnegie Hall’s The 60’s: The Years That Changed America concert series. I wish to thank Kronos Quartet’s violinist David Harrington for suggesting Mahalia Jackson’s interviews with Studs Terkel as the topic for the piece, as well as Tony Macaluso, Director of the WFMT Radio Network and the Studs Terkel Radio Archive, and Allison Schein, Archivist for the Studs Terkel Radio Archive, for their help in locating and securing my chosen broadcasts within the Archive.”
Performance of Mahalia Jackson with Mildred Falls courtesy of the Estate of Mahalia Jackson.
Stacy Garrop’s Glorious Mahalia was commissioned for the Kronos Quartet by Carnegie Hall, with support from David Harrington Research and Development Fund.
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KRONOS FESTIVAL Program #1
Performed by Kronos Quartet
For KRONOS FESTIVAL
David Harrington, Artistic Director
Janet Cowperthwaite, Executive Producer
Produced by Janet Cowperthwaite, Sarah Donahue, Reshena Liao, and Nikolás McConnie-Saad
Video edited by Nurie K. Mohamed
KRONOS FESTIVAL is made possible by generous support from the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and San Francisco Grants for the Arts. Additional support is provided by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Bernard Osher Foundation.
KRONOS FESTIVAL Partners: American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, Korean Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Nonesuch Records, McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, Serious, and Sunset Youth Services
Special thanks to: Brian Berkopec, Kim Chan, Olli Chanoff, Rachel Chanoff, FreshGrass Foundation, Todd Harvey and John Fenn, Kirkelig Kulturverksted, Randall Kline, Chris Lorway, National Sawdust, Paola Prestini, Bonnie Quinn, SFJAZZ Center, Stanford Live, Chris Wadsworth
Kronos Performing Arts Association: Janet Cowperthwaite, Executive Director; Mason Dille, Development Manager; Dana Dizon, Business Manager; Sarah Donahue, Operations Manager; Reshena Liao, Creative Projects Manager; Nikolás McConnie-Saad, Artistic Administrator; Kären Nagy, Strategic Initiatives Director
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