Performance Tuesday, February 28, 2012 | 7:30 PM

Kronos Quartet

Zankel Hall
Even after 30 years, Kronos Quartet continues to electrify us with energetic performances of fascinating new music; a breathtaking success, it’s no wonder that Rolling Stone calls the group “classical music’s Fab Four.” On an evening that features two New York premieres and two world premieres of music by composers from around the world, Kronos Quartet is joined by its original cellist, Joan Jeanrenaud.


  • Kronos Quartet
    ·· David Harrington, Violin
    ·· John Sherba, Violin
    ·· Hank Dutt, Viola
    ·· Jeffrey Zeigler, Cello
  • Joan Jeanrenaud, Cello


  • DONNACHA DENNEHY One Hundred Goodbyes (Céad Slán) (NY Premiere)
  • VLADIMIR MARTYNOV Schubert-Quintet (Unfinished) (NY Premiere)
  • PHILIP GLASS Movement III from String Quartet No. 5
  • NICOLE LIZÉE Death to Komische (NY Premiere)
  • MICHAEL HEARST Secret Word (World Premiere)


  • Kronos Quartet

    For nearly 40 years, the Kronos Quartet has pursued a singular artistic vision, combining a spirit of fearless exploration with a commitment to expanding the range and context of the string quartet. In the process, Kronos has become one of the most celebrated and influential groups of our time, performing thousands of concerts worldwide, releasing more than 45 recordings of extraordinary breadth and creativity, collaborating with many of the world's most eclectic composers and performers, and commissioning more than 750 works and arrangements for string quartet. In 2011, Kronos became the only recipients of both the Polar Music Prize and the Avery Fisher Prize, two of the most prestigious awards given to musicians. The group's numerous awards also include a Grammy for Best Chamber Music Performance (2004) and being named "Musicians of the Year" (2003) by Musical America.

    Kronos' adventurous approach dates back to the ensemble's origins. In 1973, David Harrington was inspired to form Kronos after hearing George Crumb's Black Angels, a highly unorthodox, Vietnam War-inspired work that features bowed water glasses, spoken-word passages, and electronic effects. Kronos then began building a compellingly diverse repertoire for string quartet, performing and recording works by 20th-century masters (Bartók, Shostakovich, Webern), contemporary composers (Aleksandra Vrebalov, John Adams, Alfred Schnittke), jazz legends (Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk), and artists from even farther afield (rock-guitar legend Jimi Hendrix, Azeri vocalist Alim Qasimov, interdisciplinary composer-performer Meredith Monk).

    Integral to Kronos' work is a series of long-running, in-depth collaborations with many of the world's foremost composers. One of the quartet's most frequent composer-collaborators is "Father of Minimalism" Terry Riley, whose work with Kronos includes the early Sunrise of the Planetary Dream Collector; Cadenza on the Night Plain and Salome Dances for Peace; 2002's Sun Rings, a multimedia, NASA-commissioned ode to the earth and its people, featuring celestial sounds and images from space; and Another Secret eQuation for youth chorus and string quartet, premiered at a concert celebrating Riley's 75th birthday. Kronos commissioned and recorded the three string quartets of Polish composer Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, with whom the group worked for more than 25 years. The quartet has also collaborated extensively with composers such as Philip Glass, recording his string quartets and scores to films like Mishima and Dracula (a restored edition of the Bela Lugosi classic); Azerbaijan's Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, whose works are featured on the full-length 2005 release Mugam Sayagi: Music of Franghiz Ali-Zadeh; Steve Reich, whose Kronos-recorded Different Trains earned a Grammy for the composer; Argentina's Osvaldo Golijov, whose work with Kronos includes both compositions and extensive arrangements for albums like Kronos Caravan and Nuevo; and many more.

    In addition to composers, Kronos counts numerous artists from around the world among its collaborators, including Chinese pipa virtuoso Wu Man; legendary Bollywood "playback singer" Asha Bhosle, featured on Kronos' Grammy-nominated You've Stolen My Heart: Songs from R. D. Burman's Bollywood; Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq; Mexican rockers Café Tacuba; genre-defying sound artist and instrument builder Walter Kitundu; Romanian gypsy band Taraf de Haïdouks; renowned American soprano Dawn Upshaw; and the unbridled British cabaret trio, the Tiger Lillies. Kronos has performed live with the likes of icons Allen Ginsberg, Zakir Hussain, Modern Jazz Quartet, Noam Chomsky, Rokia Traoré, Tom Waits, David Barsamian, Howard Zinn, Betty Carter, and David Bowie, and has appeared on recordings by such diverse talents as Nine Inch Nails, Amon Tobin, Dan Zanes, DJ Spooky, Dave Matthews, Nelly Furtado, Joan Armatrading, and Don Walser.

    Kronos' music has also featured prominently in other media, including film (Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, 21 Grams, Heat, True Stories) and dance, with noted choreographers such as Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, Twyla Tharp, and Eiko & Koma setting pieces to Kronos' music.

    The quartet spends five months of each year on tour, appearing in concert halls, clubs, and festivals around the world, including BAM Next Wave Festival, Carnegie Hall, London's Barbican, WOMAD, UCLA's Royce Hall, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, Shanghai Concert Hall, and Sydney Opera House. Kronos is equally prolific and wide-ranging on recordings. The ensemble's expansive discography on Nonesuch Records includes collections like Pieces of Africa (1992), a showcase of African-born composers, which simultaneously topped Billboard's classical and world-music charts; 1998's 10-disc anthology, Kronos Quartet: 25 Years; Nuevo (2002), a Grammy- and Latin Grammy-nominated celebration of Mexican culture; and the 2003 Grammy-winning Alban Berg's Lyric Suite. The group's latest releases are Floodplain (Nonesuch, 2009), spotlighting music from regions of the world riven by conflict; Rainbow (Smithsonian Folkways, 2010), in collaboration with musicians from Afghanistan and Azerbaijan; and Uniko (Ondine, 2011) with Finnish accordion/sampler duo Kimmo Pohjonen and Samuli Kosminen.

    Kronos' recording and performances reveal only a fraction of the group's commitment to new music. As a non-profit organization based in San Francisco, the Kronos Performing Arts Association has commissioned more than 750 new works and arrangements for string quartet. Music publishers Boosey & Hawkes and Kronos have released sheet music for three signature works, all commissioned for Kronos, in the first volume of the Kronos Collection, a performing edition edited by Kronos. The quartet is committed to mentoring emerging professional performers, and in 2007 led its first Professional Training Workshop with four string quartets as part of the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall. Subsequent workshops at Carnegie Hall and other venues have expanded this aspect of the quartet's work. One of Kronos' most exciting initiatives is the Kronos: Under 30 Project, a unique commissioning and composer-in-residence program for composers under 30 years old, launched in conjunction with Kronos' own 30th birthday in 2003. By cultivating creative relationships with such emerging talents and a wealth of other artists from around the world, Kronos reaps the benefit of decades of wisdom, while maintaining a fresh approach to music-making inspired by a new generation of composers and performers.

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  • Joan Jeanrenaud

    Joan Jeanrenaud, cellist and composer, grew up in a small town outside Memphis, Tennessee, where she began studying the cello under Peter Spurbeck at age 11. Her commitment to music deepened during her work with Fritz Magg at Indiana University, where she earned a bachelor's degree, and her subsequent private studies with Pierre Fournier in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1978, Jeanrenaud joined Kronos Quartet, a position she held for 20 years. For two decades, she worked with hundreds of composers and musicians, including John Cage, Frank Zappa, Morton Feldman, Philip Glass, Witold Lutosławski, Joan Armatrading, Steve Reich, Pauline Oliveros, Astor Piazzolla, Sofia Gubaidulina, Foday Muso Suso, David Byrne, Terry Riley, John Zorn, and many others. She performed more than 2,000 concerts throughout the world and made over 30 recordings with Kronos, most of which were released on Nonesuch Records.

    Upon leaving Kronos in 1999, she began her pursuit of solo and collaborative projects in composition, improvisation, electronics, video, and multi-disciplinary performance. Her recent solo CD Strange Toys,featuring her performances of her own compositions, was nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award. Jeanrenaud was awarded composer residencies at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program in 2007, and the Sally and Don Lucas Artists Programs at the Montalvo Arts Center in 2008.

    The installation work, ARIA-a collaboration with artist and designer Alessandro Moruzzi-was supported by Creative Capital and premiered at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco in 2008. During the 2000-2001 season, Jeanrenaud was artist-in-residence at the Yerba Buena Center, where she created an evening-length solo work called Metamorphosis and the installation piece Ice Cello, inspired by the work of the Fluxus artist Charlotte Moorman. Eiko & Koma commissioned the collaboration Be With for solo cello and dance, which premiered in live performances at the Kennedy Center, Joyce Theater, and the Yerba Buena Center the following season.

    In 2003, Jeanrenaud completed and performed her hour-long composition for the multimedia piece In Between with Bay Area visual artist Tom Bonauro, featuring percussionist William Winant. In 2004, Jeanrenaud was a featured performer and composer for San Francisco's Other Minds Festival, writing the cello and electronics piece Hommage for the occasion. The following year marked her first collaboration with the AXIS Dance Company, writing and performing the work Terre Brune. In 2007, Jeanrenaud composed and performed the score for Humansville, a performance installation for the Joe Goode Performance Group.

    In addition to performing her own compositions, several composers have written new works for her, including Terry Riley, Hamza El Din, Steve Mackey, Fred Frith, Kevin Volans, Karen Tanaka, Paul Dresher, Mark Grey, Anthony Davis, Alvin Curran, and Annie Gosfield. As an improviser, she collaborates with Larry Ochs, Miya Masaoka, Stephen Vitiello, and Fred Frith, among others.

    Released in August 2010, Jeanrenaud's latest CD, Pop-Pop, is a collection of her compositions in collaboration with beat artist PC Muñoz, released on her own label Deconet Records. Strange Toys was released on the Talking House label in 2008, and other solo work is available on the New Albion release of Metamorphosis, as well as many other recordings on various labels released in the last several years. A more complete listing of works and activities can be found at

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At a Glance

My inspiration throughout the months of thought behind Kronos’ program tonight has been Salvador Dalí's The Persistence of Memory.As in Dalí’s painting with the incredible melted clocks, in our concert there are four timepieces. Donnacha Dennehy’s One Hundred Goodbyes (Céad Slán) brings back to life some traditional Irish songs formerly thought to be gone forever, and now propels them into the future. Vladimir Martynov’s Schubert-Quintet (Unfinished) thrusts the essence of Schubert into the 21st century, here almost locked in a piece of amber. Also, through this new work Kronos reunites with our beloved former cellist Joan Jeanrenaud. In Death to Kosmische, Nicole Lizée discovers a “new” sound from an earlier space age—vintage East German pop music—and gleefully stretches porous sonic borders. And Michael Hearst focuses our memories of the refreshingly brilliant and inventive sonic palette of Pee-wee’s Playhouse with Secret Word, in which we celebrate an invigorating, playful world of unusual instrumental sources. We even offer the audience another way of approaching the stage. Dalí’s work has a mysterious fifth image: an allusion to a human face. Our concert also brings to Carnegie Hall a surprise element, where activism is sprouting around us and where a musical event can give direction to a society hanging on a precipice. I want a concert to be a place where energy is gained, a place where thoughts are formed and realigned. We want to suggest a new approach to what a concert can be.


 —David Harrington
Artistic Director, Kronos Quartet

Program Notes
This performance is part of Fast Forward.

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