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June 20, 2013

KRONOS at 40: A Season of Celebration

Kronos Quartet celebrates its 40th anniversary and launches a fifth decade of innovation and exploration with an impressive array of projects and special events during its 2013-14 season. The milestone will be marked by a weeklong residency at Lincoln Center, coast-to-coast birthday concerts, a host of premieres, a Nonesuch CD boxed set, and performances around the globe. During the coming season, the Grammy-winning Quartet and its nonprofit Kronos Performing Arts Association will unveil more than a dozen commissioned works by the likes of Philip Glass, Bryce Dessner (of The National), Aleksandra Vrebalov, Dan Deacon, Mary Kouyoumdjian, David T. Little, and others, plus two film scores and a volume of commissioned works published by Boosey & Hawkes.

Kronos Quartet

The anniversary season opens with a free outdoor concert on Saturday, June 22 at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven. This performance introduces the new Kronos line-up of founding violinist and Artistic Director David Harrington, longtime members John Sherba (violin) and Hank Dutt (viola), and new cellist Sunny Yang.

Since Kronos’ debut concert at North Seattle Community College in November, 1973, it has become one of the most influential groups in any musical genre. Along the way, Kronos has:

-Transformed its medium by bursting through stylistic and geographical boundaries
-Sold more than 2.5 million copies of its 40+ albums
-Created a vibrant new repertoire with more than 800 commissions to date
-Collaborated with artists of a variety of styles from around the globe, including Tom Waits, Asha Bhosle,Taraf de Haïdouks, Laurie Anderson, Howard Zinn, Dawn Upshaw, Café Tacvba, Zakir Hussain, and Rokia Traoré
-Changed the way chamber music is presented by incorporating sound and lighting design, and theatrical elements
-Become the only ensemble to win both the Avery Fisher Prize and the Polar Music Prize
-Nurtured subsequent generations of musicians through mentoring and educational initiatives
-Established the not-for-profit Kronos Performing Arts Association, which manages the Quartet and furthers Kronos’ ambitious musical and educational mission from its home base in San Francisco

Following is a chronological selection of highlights from the 40th anniversary season. A full listing of concerts can be found here. Note: programs are subject to change.


June 22 Season opener
The 40th-anniversary season gets underway on Saturday, June 22 with a free outdoor show at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven, CT. Taking place on the New Haven Green, it is the group’s first concert with new cellist Sunny Yang. Special guest Wu Man, a pipa virtuoso and a favorite of Kronos audiences, will join in music by Philip Glass, Nicole Lizée, Terry Riley, and others.

July 14 Free mega-concert in San Francisco
Stern Grove Festival concerts routinely attract some 8,000 listeners. Kronos headlines a hometown bill that includes Bay Area artists Real Vocal String Quartet and Geographer with Magik*Magik Quartet. Highlights of Kronos’ program include the world premiere of Notoation, a festival-commissioned work by electronic musician Amon Tobin; Death Is the Road to Awe by Clint Mansell, from his soundtrack to Darren Aronofsky’s film The Fountain; plus works by Café Tacvba, Ramallah Underground, and others.

July 24 – 28 Lincoln Center Out of Doors celebrates KRONOS at 40
Lincoln Center presents KRONOS at 40, a five-day program comprising 28 free performances on Lincoln Center’s plazas during the opening week of this year’s Lincoln Center Out of Doors festival. Described as a “festival within a festival,” KRONOS at 40 was curated in collaboration with Kronos and Bill Bragin, Lincoln Center’s Director of Public Programming.  Kronos’ programs include ten premieres (including eight newly commissioned works), plus collaborations with dance, pop musicians and beyond-genre performers including Dan Deacon and Jherek Bischoff. The week also features My Brightest Diamond, Dan Zanes, Superhuman Happiness, a new work for 80 dancers set to Kronos’ recordings by Mark Dendy Dance & Theater Projects, and many others.

In a companion exhibition, the New York Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, Plaza Corridor Gallery, presents For the Record: The World of Kronos on Nonesuch Records (June 26–August 30), featuring original Kronos album cover artwork, composers’ manuscript materials, international awards, Kronos listening stations, and more.

August 3 + 4 Kronos at Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music
On August 3, Marin Alsop conducts Kronos and the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra in award-winning film composer Thomas Newman’s It Got Dark. August 4 brings a characteristically eclectic program with special guest performer/composer Vân-Ánh Vanessa Võ, a master of the Vietnamese dan tranh zither, along with pieces by Michael Gordon, Pamela Z, and others, including an arrangement of Richard Wagner’s Prelude from Tristan und Isolde created for Kronos by Aleksandra Vrebalov.

September 9 – 15 First-Time Destination: Five concerts in Bogotá
The globe-trotting quartet makes its debut this season in Bogotá, Colombia, on September 9 - 15, where its residency is highlighted by Thomas Newman’s It Got Dark with the Bogotá Philharmonic and three different concert programs featuring recent commissions and new works.. In another first this season, Kronos visits Kiev, Ukraine, on July 5 (see “Major Premieres” below).

November 16 Birthday concert at Neptune Theatre in Seattle
Kronos Quartet returns to its Seattle roots exactly 40 years to the month from its first concert. The anniversary program at the historic Neptune Theatre will highlight a number of new Kronos-commissioned compositions, along with favorite works from the past four decades. Kronos will also be joined on stage — and among the audience — by Seattle’s Degenerate Art Ensemble in a new work by DAE, uniting string quartet, six singers, and the ensemble’s unique strain of butoh-inspired dance.

December 7 40th anniversary celebration in Berkeley
Based in the San Francisco Bay Area for more than 35 years, Kronos receives a birthday salute from Cal Performances at Zellerbach Hall on the UC Berkeley campus. The program includes both next-generation guest artists and new works by eminent old friends Philip Glass (Bay Area premiere) and Terry Riley (Bay Area premiere, featuring a children’s choir). The program also features a staged version of George Crumb’s Black Angels, the work that inspired Kronos’ founding, and a guest appearance by longtime Kronos collaborator Wu Man.

March 14 40th anniversary celebration at Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA
Along with the staged version of George Crumb’s Black Angels noted above, this anniversary concert at Royce Hall includes the Los Angeles premiere of Philip Glass’ Orion with guest artist Wu Man, plus Penderecki’s pioneering Quartetto per archi, Clint Mansell’s Death Is the Road to Awe, from his soundtrack to Darren Aronofsky’s film The Fountain, and other works.

March 28, 2014 Kronos Quartet & Friends at Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium
The Quartet celebrates four decades with a milestone anniversary program featuring world premieres by Terry Riley and Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, and pieces by Laurie Anderson, Aleksandra Vrebalov and others. Special guests include Wu Man and two highly accomplished teen ensembles from the Kronos Program at the Kaufman Music Center.


Characteristically for Kronos, commissioned composers whose works premiere in the 2013-14 season represent an extraordinary variety of voices. They come from all over the world, encompass familiar names and newcomers, and include artists from the Western classical tradition, rockers, folk musicians, laptop wizards, experimentalists, and many who defy categorization.

Both Philip Glass and Terry Riley have longstanding relationships with Kronos and are delivering new works for the anniversary season. Glass’ String Quartet No. 6 receives its world premiere on October 19 at the Chan Centre in Vancouver, followed by the US premiere at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas on October 21 and the East Coast debut on October 24 at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center in College Park, Maryland. This new work, Glass’ sixth quartet written for Kronos, was commissioned by the Chan Centre, the Smith Center, the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, and others. Riley’s score will be his 27th for Kronos. Commissioned by Carnegie Hall, the new work will be a centerpiece of Kronos’ 40th-anniversary bash at Stern Auditorium on March 28. 

One of the season’s most ambitious commissions is a 40-minute, KPAA-produced collaboration with Serbian-born composer Aleksandra Vrebalov and noted filmmaker Bill Morrison, with additional creative consultation from David Harrington and visual artist Drew Cameron, premiering on April 6 at Hertz Hall at UC Berkeley. Bearing the working title World War I Chronicles, the piece draws on rare archival film footage and World War I–era music and texts, the work commemorates the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of “The Great War,” which began in Vrebalov’s home region of the Balkan Peninsula.

In February (date TBA), Kronos will debut a new work written for the Quartet by Mary Kouyoumdjian, the composer selected from among nearly 400 applicants for this year’s Kronos: Under 30 Project—a KPAA-produced commissioning and residency program for young composers that has elicited over 1300 applications from 58 countries since 2003.

A chronological list of select premieres follows.

July 5 Mariana Sadovska: Chernobyl. The HarvestNational Ivan Franko Theatre, Kiev
Vocalist/composer Sadovska joins Kronos in the premiere of her work regarding the catastrophic Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster of 1986, which took place in her native Ukraine.

July 14 Amon Tobin: NotoationStern Grove Festival, San Francisco
Tobin, born in Brazil and based in the Bay Area, is one of the most acclaimed and influential composers of electronic music, a master of audio sample manipulation.

July 26 Magda Giannikou: Strophe in AntistropheLincoln Center Out of Doors, NYC
Greek composer/performer Giannikou joins Kronos on the laterna, a hand-cranked, portable barrel piano popular in Greece in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. With percussionists Keita Ogawa and Marcelo Woloski.

July 28 Jherek Bischoff: New work; Dan Deacon: New work; Yuri Boguinia: On the Wings of PegasusLincoln Center Out of Doors, NYC
The final concert of Kronos’s week at LCOOD brings a trifecta of new works from experimental pop composer/electric guitarist Bischoff, who will perform with Kronos; Deacon, who will appear with the group on live electronics; and, from Russia, 21-year-old Juilliard Teaching Fellow Boguinia, the youngest composer to be premiered by Kronos this season. Amon Tobin’s Notoation receives its East Coast premiere on this program also.

October 19 Philip Glass: String Quartet No. 6Chan Centre, Vancouver
Following its world premiere in Vancouver, Glass’ latest work for Kronos receives its US premiere at the Smith Center in Las Vegas on October 21 and is then heard at the Clarice Smith Center at the University of Maryland (October 24), Stanford University (January 15), and the Krannert Center at the University of Illinois (March 19).

November 8 FirstWorks and Community Music Works present Kareem Roustom: A Voice ExclaimingRISD Auditorium, Providence
Syrian-born, US-based composer Roustom has written a triple quartet to be given its world premiere by Kronos with young musicians from Providence’s acclaimed Community MusicWorks program, which builds meaningful, long-term relationships between professional musicians and urban youths. 

January 18, 2014 David T. Little: AGENCYUniversity Musical Society, Ann Arbor
Little’s AGENCY explores questions of belief, choice, and personal complicity. The 30-minute piece touches on government conspiracy theories, ancient creation and destruction myths from around the world, and the wisdom of a long-dead poet on the nature of belief.

February 22 Trio Da Kali: Collaboration – Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, College Park, MD
Kronos and this virtuoso Malian trio of voice, balafon, and ngoni premiere their collaborative new work for septet. This project continues a ground-breaking partnership with the Aga Khan Music Initiative that in recent years has produced historic Kronos collaborations with Azeri singers Alim and Fargana Qasimov and with Afghan rubab maestro Homayun Sakhi.

April 6 World War I Chronicles [working title]– Cal Performances, Hertz Hall, Berkeley
This 40-minute work for string quartet with film by Serbian-born composer Aleksandra Vrebalov and noted filmmaker Bill Morrison, with additional creative consultation from David Harrington and visual artist Drew Cameron, draws on rare archival still and moving images from the early 20th century, plus documentary audio.

May 5 Elena Langer, New work – Théâtre de la Ville, Paris
Born in Moscow and based in London, Langer counts Julian Anderson, Sofia Gubaidulina, and Jonathan Harvey among her teachers. Her new work for Kronos is scored for string quartet and Russian “kolesnaya lira” (“wheel lyre”—a form of hurdy-gurdy). Also on the program: the French premiere of Philip Glass’ String Quartet No. 6, and Crumb’s Black Angels.

May 9 Karin Rehnqvist, New work – Stockholm Concert Hall, Sweden
Rehnqvist often explores the intersection of art and folk music, particularly Swedish traditions. Her new piece for Kronos and kantele player Ritva Koistinen is paired with Crumb’s Black Angels.

May 13 Bryce Dessner, New work – Barbican, London
Dessner is an electric guitarist and a driving force behind top-selling indie rock group The National; he will perform with Kronos in his fourth piece for the ensemble.  The program also features music of Glass and others.


Early in 2014, Nonesuch will release a six-CD boxed set of Kronos discs on the label inspired by global music. The set will bring together five of the quartet’s most admired albums – Pieces of Africa, Nuevo, Floodplain, Caravan, and Night Prayers – with a sixth disc devoted to new tracks from a variety of sources, many of which have never been released on Nonesuch before. Among the selections will be the group’s first recordings with Sunny Yang.


David Harrington served as music supervisor for Dirty Wars, which features performances by Kronos of music from the Middle East, plus cues composed by Harrington himself. Dirty Wars follows investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill, author of the international bestseller Blackwater, into the heart of America’s covert wars, from Afghanistan to Yemen, Somalia and beyond. With a strong cinematic style, the film unfolds through Scahill’s investigation and personal journey as he chases down this important human rights story. The film opened June 7 in Los Angeles, NYC, Washington, DC, and other cities worldwide.

Kronos has recorded music composed by Jacob Garchik for the score of The Campaign, a feature documentary by Christie Herring telling the inside story of the fight to stop California’s controversial Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage and started a movement. With exclusive access to the state headquarters of the “No on 8” campaign in San Francisco, Herring captures the essence of this emotional journey. The Campaign, which also features several other Kronos recordings, explores fault lines of religion, race, and identity at a critical turning point in the push for LBGT rights, offering an intimate portrait of committed individuals, compelled by both circumstance and their passionate beliefs to go far beyond their everyday selves. The film premieres at San Francisco’s Frameline Film Festival on June 23, and it will begin broadcasting on PBS stations early August.


For two years, the Kronos Quartet has been Artist-in-Residence at Cal Performances. This season finds the Quartet on the University of California at Berkeley campus during both fall and spring semesters. Kronos will interact with students in the Department of Music, including coaching student ensembles and working with student composers, along with many other activities still being developed. There will also be a forum commemorating the centennial of the outbreak of the First World War, the subject of World War I Chronicles, which was co-commissioned by Cal Performances.

Kronos is Artist-in-Residence at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland in College Park, which is committed to commissioning new works and fostering engagements between UMD performing arts students and visiting artists. The East Coast premiere of Philip Glass’ String Quartet No. 6 (October 24), co-commissioned by Cll highlight Kronos’ residency. Kalso engaged for the fourth consecutive year in one-on-one coaching of SOM composition students and will hold a premiere reading of these student works for the public on February 20, 2014.

The Kronos Program at Kaufman Music Center (New York City) will formalize a relationship between the Kronos Quartet and three string quartets from the Face the Music program. Members of Kronos will mentor the twelve pre-collegiate students in these quartets, who, like all members of Face the Music, study and perform only music by living composers. The Program activities will include coaching, repertoire guidance, and special student access to Kronos rehearsals and performances.


In 2007, Boosey & Hawkes and Kronos issued The Kronos Collection, compiling several touchstones of Kronos’ repertoire - works by Terry Riley, Hamza El Din, and Aleksandra Vrebalov - in a single print volume, with details on the playing techniques used in these inventive pieces. February 28, 2014 brings the second volume of The Kronos Collection, featuring six Kronos-commissioned arrangements by MacArthur “Genius Award”–winning composer and longtime Kronos collaborator Osvaldo Golijov.


Details and program listings can be found here.

June 22, 2013 International Festival of Arts & Ideas, New Haven, CT
June 28 Barbican, London, England
July 2 Malta Arts Festival, Valletta, Malta
July 5 Ukho, National Ivan Franko Theatre, Kiev, Ukraine
July 8 Prinzregententheater, Munich, Germany
July 14 Stern Grove Festival, San Francisco, CA
July 24 - 28 Lincoln Center Out of Doors, NYC, NY
August 3 + 4 Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, Santa Cruz, CA
September 9 - 15 Various venues, Bogota, Colombia
September 18 Barbican, London, England
October 9 Friends of Chamber Music, Kaul Auditorium, Portland, OR
October 11 Wilson Center for the Arts, Brookfield, WI
October 16 University of Texas, Austin, TX
October 19 Chan Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia
October 21 Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Las Vegas, NV
October 24 Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
November 2 Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY
November 8 FirstWorks and Community MusicWorks, Rhode Island School of Design Auditorium, Providence, RI
November 9 Hamilton College, Clinton, NY
November 12 Broward College, Broward, FL
November 16 Seattle Theatre Group, Neptune Theatre, Seattle, WA
November 20 Festival de Música de Morelia:Miguel Bernal Jiménez, Orly Beigel Productions, Morelia, Mexico
December 7 Cal Performances, University of California – Berkeley, Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley, CA
January 15, 2014 Stanford Live, Bing Concert Hall, Stanford, CA
January 17 + 18 University Music Society, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
February 15 Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, Burlington, VT
February 22 Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
February 26 Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY
March 1 DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN
March 8 San Francisco Performances, SFJAZZ Center, San Francisco, CA
March 11 ArtPower!, University of California – San Diego, San Diego, CA
March 14 Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, Royce Hall, Los Angeles
March 19 Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Urbana, IL
March 22 Duke Performances, Durham, NC
March 23 Bergen Performing Arts Center, Bergen, NJ
March 28 Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium, NYC, NY
March 29 Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, Brookville, NY
April 6 Cal Performances, University of California – Berkeley, Hertz Hall, Berkeley, CA
May 5 Théâtre de la Ville, Paris
May 7 Théâtre de Arras, Arras, France
May 9 Stockholm Concert Hall, Stockholm
May 13 Barbican, London, England



The Kronos Quartet/Kronos Performing Arts Association is supported by generous contributions from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Creative Work Fund, the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, The Bernard Osher Foundation, Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, The James Irvine Foundation, The MAP Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Onassis Foundation USA, the Tides Foundation, and The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, among many other institutional and individual donors.


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