Five New String Quartets Available Now!
Feb 17, 2021

Five New String Quartets Available Now!

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Kronos Quartet/Kronos Performing Arts Association (KPAA) is proud to announce the release of the next five additions to 50 for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire, the ongoing multi-year commissioning, performance, education and legacy initiative. Scores and parts, recordings and companion learning materials for new string quartets composed by Alexandra du Bois, Tod Machover, Missy Mazzoli, Misato Mochizuki, and Charlton Singleton are now available online, free of charge. Listen to the works below:

This online release adds to previously published pieces by Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, Laurie Anderson, Mark Applebaum, Ken Benshoof, Raven Chacon, Aftab Darvishi, Fodé Lassana Diabaté, Hawa Kassé Mady Diabaté, Mario Galeano Toro, Guillermo Galindo, Rhiannon Giddens, Philip Glass, Yotam Haber, Zakir Hussain, Susie Ibarra, Joan Jeanrenaud, Garth Knox, Aleksander Kościów, Nicole Lizée, Lu Yun, Soo Yeon Lyuh, Vladimir Martynov, Onutė Narbutaitė, Angélica Negrón, Jlin Patton, Kala Ramnath, Karin Rehnqvist, Yevgeniy Sharlat, Trey Spruance, Tanya Tagaq, Stephan Thelen, Henry Threadgill, Merlijn Twaalfhoven, Aleksandra Vrebalov and Wu Man, bringing this learning library of contemporary repertoire for string quartets to a total of 40 works.

When completed, this collection will feature 50 new string quartets composed by an eclectic, international group of 25 women and 25 men. Kronos’ 50 for the Future is devoted to the most contemporary approaches to the string quartet and designed expressly for the training of students and emerging professionals. Launched in 2015 by the Kronos Performing Arts Association with Lead Partner Carnegie Hall, Fifty for the Future continues to grow, with scores downloaded nearly 20,000 times by musicians in 100+ countries and territories around the globe. The final ten Fifty for the Future pieces are scheduled to be released in the 2021/22 season.


About the Works

Alexandra du Bois is a Virginia-born composer and violinist who writes works often propelled by issues of indifference and inequality throughout the United States and the world. She has written three previous pieces for Kronos, and was the first recipient of the Kronos: Under 30 Project in 2002. About Behind Rainbows, du Bois writes, "Grief is like a kaleidoscope. Behind rainbows are stories of shadows and downpours of sorts, even death. Colors always emerge. Light both follows and precedes one. Perception of sound is not unlike color. Grief is like a kaleidoscope; it is always changing. Like joy, a rainbow, a memory, of what passed before its color."

Tod Machover's music often explores the frontiers of art and science. Gammified, for string quartet and electronics, incorporates Gamma frequencies, ~40 Hz, equivalent to the low E on the piano. These frequencies have been discovered to play fundamental roles in our brains, with the potential to help treat depression, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, and other disorders. Gammified combines a 40 Hz drone with the string quartet to create "a musical journey from pedal to pulsation to spectral shimmering to melody to harmonic resolution," in Machover's words. "The quartet is asked to listen carefully to the electronics while performing, interacting, imitating and occasionally improvising." Previously, Machover composed Chomsky Suite for Kronos, performed by the quartet with Noam Chomsky himself to celebrate MIT's 150th anniversary.

Missy Mazzoli, one of the most sought-after composers of her generation, has previously written for Kronos; her Harp and Altar is a staple of the quartet's touring programs. Regarding Enthusiasm Strategies, she writes, “I think of music itself, particularly the music made by Kronos Quartet, as a strategy for mustering enthusiasm and joy. It’s a way of setting the world in order, a method of carving up time in way that, seemingly by magic, changes our frame of mind, energizes us, and gives us courage and reassurance. In this piece, I tried to combine techniques that were both scary and familiar to me; a cascade of natural harmonics collapses into an ecstatic chorale, which then evaporates into silence."

Combining Occidental tradition and an Asiatic sense of breathing, Tokyo-born composer Misato Mochizuki has developed a musical language with magical rhythms and unusual sounds of great formal and stylistic freedom. She named Boids for a computer program of the same title, developed in 1986 by Craig Reynolds, that simulates the flocking behavior of birds. Writes the composer, “In Boids, the violins and viola each have scales that represent 'personalities'—chromatic, whole tone, and pentatonic—that all swim together in the same direction to create the sense of a flock. Each strike from the cello is a stone thrown into the water: after each pizz the 'fish' disperse, but eventually they begin to flock together anew.”

Charlton Singleton often draws inspiration from the Gullah culture of the American Southeast's Lowcountry region, where he grew up. In addition to his roles as speaker, composer, and arranger, Singleton also performs as part of Ranky Tanky, a group that specializes in jazz-influenced arrangements of traditional Gullah music. Singleton based Testimony on musical practices of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in which his father was a pastor. During his childhood, a cappella Prayer Bands of three or four people had the responsibility of getting the congregation ready for worship. Notes Singleton, “Testimony is written from the Prayer Band experience, and from specific rhythms in African American churches and communities – the ‘Gullah Clap’ (on beats two, two-and, and four) and the ‘Half Clap’ (on beat one only).” Watch Kronos perform Testimony below:


The Kronos Performing Arts Association is grateful to the many individuals and institutions who have supported Kronos’ Fifty for the Future, including Peggy Dorfman & the Ralph I. Dorfman Family Fund, David and Evelyne Lennette, Andrea Abernethy Lunsford, Mai Family Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, Marjorie Randolph,Telluray Foundation, Ann Hatch - Tin Man Fund, and Gottfried and Janet Tittiger.

KPAA is grateful for the generous support of Kronos' Fifty for the Future Lead Partner, Carnegie Hall, and Legacy Partners Aga Khan Music Programme, The Arts Center at New York University Abu Dhabi, Cal Performances / University of California, Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, Cornish College of the Arts, Holland Festival, Kaufman Music Center’s Face the Music, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts / University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Oakland School for the Arts, The Performing Arts Center at SUNY Purchase, ProQuartet Centre Européen de Musique de Chambre, Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Serious / Barbican, Texas Performing Arts Association at the University of Texas at Austin, and Washington Performing Arts.

A complete listing of funders and partners may be found here.