To mark the release, Kronos participates in Kronos Music: The Future Is Now, a community concert, now in its third year, that brings Kronos together with student musicians from the San Francisco Bay Area to perform works from 50 For the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire. This year, 80 students from Oakland School for the Arts, Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts, and San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM) are participating in the concert. Co-presented by KRONOS PRESENTS, a program of the Kronos Performing Arts Association, and SFCM, Kronos Music: The Future Is Now takes place Thursday, February 6, 2020, at 7:30 pm PST in San Francisco, California, at SFCM. The concert is sponsored by David and Evelyne Lennette and Andrea Lunsford, with additional support provided by Grants for the Arts, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The Bernard Osher Foundation and other generous donors.
This online release adds to previously published pieces by Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, Laurie Anderson, Ken Benshoof, Raven Chacon, Islam Chipsy, Aftab Darvishi, Fodé Lassana Diabaté, Mario Galeano Toro, Guillermo Galindo, Rhiannon Giddens, Philip Glass, Yotam Haber, Zakir Hussain, Joan Jeanrenaud, Garth Knox, Aleksander Kościów, Nicole Lizée, Lu Yun, Soo Yeon Lyuh, Onutė Narbutaitė, Jlin Patton, Kala Ramnath, Karin Rehnqvist, Yevgeniy Sharlat, Trey Spruance, Tanya Tagaq, Stephan Thelen, Merlijn Twaalfhoven, Aleksandra Vrebalov and Wu Man, bringing this learning library of contemporary repertoire for string quartets to a total of 35 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, the initial scores have been downloaded more than 16,300 times in 93 countries and territories worldwide.
Through Kronos’ 50 for the Future, members of the Kronos Quartet have mentored over 1,000 students during 250 workshops and residency activities worldwide, including coachings with college quartets at the University of Arizona, master classes with music and composition students in Melbourne, Australia, a weeklong residency with emerging quartets in Barcelona, and semester-long mentorships with elementary and high school students in the San Francisco and Oakland Unified School Districts. “The 50 for the Future project is amazing,” said 16-year-old Loa Cho, founder and cellist of the Toledo Youth Symphony Quartet. “It’s a valuable source for students, like us, since it is hard to find real contemporary sheet music. The instructional notes and videos are extremely helpful to learn new techniques that are specific to the pieces.”
Mark Applebaum, Ph.D. composed a 15-minute work for string quartet and props entitled Flashlight. Utilizing staplers, aluminum foil, flashlights, and many other household objects, the work adds unconventional gestural elements to the musical performance, which he has previously experimented with in works for conductors but no players, a concerto for florist and orchestra, pieces for an invented sign language choreographed to sound, among others. Applebaum playfully writes in his program note, “There is an alternate universe in which this piece makes sense.” In addition to being a composer, he is an accomplished jazz pianist and builds electroacoustic sound-sculptures out of junk, hardware and found objects. At Stanford University, where he is the Edith & Leland Smith Professor of Composition, Applebaum is the founding director of [sic]—the Stanford Improvisation Collective.
Hawa Kassé Mady Diabaté composed Tègèrè Tulon, a 12-minute, four-movement work, arranged by Jacob Garchik for string quartet with handclap percussion. The work takes its name and inspiration from tègèrè tulon, which is the endangered Malian tradition of handclapping songs that are performed exclusively by girls outdoors in a circle, usually on moonlit nights. Made up spontaneously using the rhythms of language to generate musical rhythm, these songs are typically short, consisting of one or two phrases repeated in call and response, and each one is accompanied with its own dance. Building on her memories of the handclapping songs that she used to do as a young girl, Diabaté has created four new pieces in the tègèrè tulon style, which she hopes will encourage Malians not to abandon this rich cultural heritage. Born into a celebrated griot family, the Diabatés of Kela, she continues the rich heritage of Mali’s griots, the hereditary musicians that date back to the founding of the Mali Empire in the 13th century, by performing traditional songs at weddings in Mali and touring internationally in the band Trio Da Kali. Formed by Dr. Lucy Durán on behalf of the Aga Khan Music Initiative, a program of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Trio Da Kali also features balafon player and 50 for the Future composer Fodé Lassana Diabaté and bass ngoni player Mamadou Kouyaté. Kronos and Trio Da Kali collaborated on a series of songs rooted in the griot tradition that have been collected on the Songlines Music Award–winning album Ladilikan (World Circuit Records).
Susie Ibarra composed Pulsation, a 7-minute work for string quartet and optional percussion, performed in the recording by Ibarra herself. She writes that it “is written with a continuous rhythm beating throughout the music, which flows through different pathways and patterns, [and] moves continuously and shifts… The performers are also able to interchange or change the order of the sections, making it possible to start in various places and decide to end in another. There are also moments when a performer may improvise within certain rhythmic cycles of a section.” As a composer and percussionist, Ibarra has performed with Pauline Oliveros, John Zorn, Wadada Leo Smith, Tania Léon, Ikue Mori, Yusef Komunyakaa, Jennifer Choi, DreamTime Ensemble and many others. A faculty member at Bennington College, she teaches Performance, Percussion and at the Center for Advancement of Public Action.
Vladimir Martynov composed Andante Amoroso, an 8-minute work for string quartet. “From the late-romantic to early-modernist styles of late Debussy and Webern, I saw this piece as a kind of pastiche of love songs and arias, adapted for the string quartet sound,” he writes. Kronos and Martynov have collaborated on numerous occasions, resulting in the 2011 Nonesuch Records release Music of Vladimir Martynov. The album included The Beatitudes, which was later featured in the 2013 film La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty). Living in Moscow, Martynov is a composer, pianist, teacher and ethnomusicologist specializing in the music of the Caucasian peoples, Tajikistan and other ethnic groups in Russia. He also studied medieval and Renaissance Russian and European music, as well as religious musical history and musicology and theology. During the Soviet era, he worked for the studio for electronic music at the Alexander Scriabin Museum, a meeting ground for avant-garde musicians at the time, and also formed a rock group called Boomerang. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, he has often written works that take on large Christian themes.
Henry Threadgill composed Sixfivetwo, a 12-minute work for string quartet that includes opportunities for players to improvise. “The improvisational component is very important,” he said in an interview while describing his philosophy which guided the creation of this piece. “Kronos knows it’s important and I know it’s important. It’s a shame that the classical concert world doesn’t understand how important it is… Everything is about exploration. We get to where we are because of exploration. That’s why improvisation is so important… We won’t improve anything unless we have an improvisational approach to life.” Composer, saxophonist, and flautist Threadgill is a Pulitzer Prize–winning jazz artist. Since relocating to New York City from Chicago in 1970, he has led numerous critically acclaimed projects including AIR (Artists In Residence), Sextett, Very Very Circus, Make A Move, Zooid, Ensemble Double-Up and 14 or 15 Kestra: AGG.