Only Ever Us (2021)
50 For The Future:
The Kronos Learning
“This piece is an excuse to gather. It is a reason to know someone better and a chance to share a moment with them. It is an opportunity to listen, chat, and perhaps consider that in this us-versus-them world, we are free to redraw the boundary of us at any time to include more them."
About the instrumentation:
Any rendition of Only Ever Us should include, at the minimum, four ‘requisite’ parts: Violin 1, Violin 2, Viola 1, and Violoncello 1. This quartet formation may either perform alone or augment itself with any combination of ‘auxiliary’ parts (Violin 3, Viola 2, and/or Violoncello 2) to form one of many possible quintet, sextet, or septet configurations—each with its own perspective and unique musical interactions.
Paul Wiancko, a composer for Kronos' Fifty for the Future, discusses his musical background, his composition process, the piece he wrote for Fifty for the Future, and more.
Paul Wiancko is an acclaimed composer and cellist. The Washington Post describes Wiancko as “a restless and multifaceted talent who plays well with others”—a reference to his substantial collaborations with artists like Max Richter, Chick Corea, Norah Jones, Arcade Fire, and The National. “Even with this chronically collaborative spirit,” the Post continues, “Wiancko maintains a singular voice as a composer.”
As cellist of the internationally-celebrated Kronos Quartet, Wiancko regularly appears on the world’s foremost stages—including Carnegie Hall, the Barbican, and the Sydney Opera House. Wiancko first collaborated with the Kronos Quartet in 2018 when he was invited to compose a piece for 50 For The Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire, and soon after toured with the quartet as guest cellist. Upon officially joining the group in 2023, violinist and Kronos artistic director David Harrington stated, "We look forward to soaring into the future with the catalytic, super-charged vitality of Paul’s playing. It will be so much fun to explore the vast world of music together with Paul.”
A serial chamber musician, Wiancko is a founding member of the viola and cello duo Ayane & Paul, as well as Owls, a quartet-collective dubbed a “dream group” by The New York Times. He has shared the stage with many of today’s most prominent artists, including Richard Goode, Mitsuko Uchida, Yo-Yo Ma, Terry Riley, Caroline Shaw, and members of the Emerson, Guarneri, St. Lawrence, and JACK quartets. From 2009 to 2011, he was cellist of the Harlem Quartet, with whom he performed and taught extensively throughout the US, Europe, South America, and Africa.
Wiancko’s own music has been described as everything from “dazzling” and “compelling” (Star Tribune) to “joyous, riotous” and “delicate” (NY Times). NPR writes, “If Haydn were alive to write a string quartet today, it may sound something like Paul Wiancko's LIFT”—a work that “teems with understanding of and affection for the string-quartet tradition” (NY Times) and is featured on the Aizuri Quartet’s Grammy-nominated album, Blueprinting. Wiancko is a recipient of the S&R Foundation’s Washington Award for composition, and was named one of The Washington Post's “22 for ‘22: Composers and Performers to Watch.” He has served as composer-in-residence at Spoleto Festival USA, Music from Angel Fire, Portland Chamber Music Festival, Caramoor, and the Banff Centre, and has composed works for the St. Lawrence, Kronos, Aizuri, Parker, Calder, and Attacca Quartets, yMusic, Alisa Weilerstein, Alexi Kenney, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, and many others.
In addition to a full performance and composition schedule, Wiancko is a dedicated teacher, mentor, and advocate for music education at all levels. He has taught at the St. Lawrence Chamber Music Seminar, Festival del Lago, and the Banff Centre, and is regularly invited to give masterclasses at institutions including Stanford, Peabody, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Wiancko’s commitment to supporting future generations of performers and composers has led him to assist in the development of forward-thinking programs like Evolution Classical at the Banff Centre and the Green Lake Chamber Music Institute.
Only Ever Us is such an incredible and unique piece. When you hear it, you know—only Paul could write this. It has his stamp and his color, and that's what you want to find in a composer.