Innovative Kronos Quartet to play at Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts


Kronos Quartet, an award-winning ensemble that thrives on musical experimentation and innovation, will take the stage on Friday, Nov. 19, at 8 p.m. at Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. A pre-concert Art to Heart discussion with New York Daily News critic Howard Kissel will take place from 7 to 7:40 p.m.

The concert is one of the San Francisco-based quartet's few East Coast appearances this season, as it will spend much of 2004-05 touring Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Named 2003 Musicians of the Year by Musical America Directory, the 31-year-old string quartet continues to embrace the eccentric and the extraordinary, commissioning challenging new music and unearthing older pieces not usually found on a classical program. The Quick Center program includes works by such varied composers as Michael Gordon, Charles Mingus, Felipe Pérez Santiago and Franghiz Ali-Zadeh.

"My feeling has always been that the greatest piece for string quartet hasn't been written yet," Kronos founder and violinist David Harrington told Classical Music magazine. "If there was a perfection you wouldn't need to do it - you wouldn't need to hear another note."

The other three members of the quartet are: John Sherba, violin; Hank Dutt, viola; and Jennifer Culp, cello.

Kronos Quartet began its musical journey in 1973 and has been commissioning new works since its inception. To date, more than 450 pieces have been written or arranged for the group.

The group's extensive repertoire ranges from Alban Berg and Alfred Schnittke to Astor Piazzolla and Hildegard von Bingen. Kronos has collaborated with countless others in unique performances, including work with singer Dawn Upshaw, Beat poet Allen Ginsberg and filmmaker Darren Aronofsky ("Requiem for a Dream").

Kronos tours extensively, with more than 100 concerts a year around the world. Its eclectic style opens doors at both concert and recital halls and jazz festivals and clubs. Past appearances have included Carnegie Hall, Sydney Opera House, the Ravinia Festival, London's Barbican and Moscow's Conservatory of Music. Their discography includes dozens of albums and collaborations with The Tiger Lillies, Philip Glass, Joan Armatrading and the Dave Matthews Band.

Credited with bringing a younger audience back to traditional classical concert halls, the quartet has won acclaim from critics and peers as well. Among its many awards are a Grammy for Best Chamber Music Performance, three Edison Prizes from The Netherlands, France's Les Diapason d'Or de Mai and Germany's Jahrespreis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik.

The Quick Center program begins with Michael Gordon's "Potassium," a piece that was commissioned for the Kronos Quartet to mark its 25th anniversary. Gordon, who is known for his exploration of rhythm, has said "Potassium" was born of an attempt to distance himself from everything he knew about string quartets. From there, it moves to Charles Mingus' "Children's Hour of Dream," an intense piece by the American jazz experimentalist that is meant to depict the terror of a nightmare to a young sleeping child. It is part of Mingus' two-hour masterwork "Epitaph."

The quartet will play Kevin Volans' "String Quartet No. 8 (Black Woman Rising)," the South African composer's fourth commission from Kronos. The quartet is a retrospective piece that harks back to several other compositions he wrote over the last 20 years. Volans calls it a "celebration of the empowerment of those who for centuries have been oppressed."

Terry Riley's "One Earth, One People, One Love" from his "Sun Rings" finishes the first half of the program. The piece includes sounds a University of Iowa professor "harvested" from the solar system - the crackling of solar winds, the whistling of deep-space lighting and other cosmic events.

Kronos will also play Mexican-born Felipe Pérez Santiago's "CampoSanto" and Franghiz Ali Zadeh's "Oasis," a piece the composer wrote about the dreams of a weary traveler that includes the structure of the love poems of her native Azerbaijan.

The concert is a good example of the quartet's desire to explore musical possibilities around the globe.

"This audacious ensemble has changed our perception of not just what a string quartet can be, but what music can be in this 21st-century global village," said Mark Swed of Musical America.

Tickets to the Quick Center concert are $35, $30 and $25. For tickets, call the Quick Center box office at (203) 254-4010 or toll free at 1-877-ARTS-396. For more information, visit www.quickcenter.com.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on October 20, 2004

Vol. 37, No. 85