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News - Kronos Keeps Commissioning

Kronos Quartet is without doubt one of the most active commissioning ensembles around. Their commitment to adding quality work to the repertoire is unparalleled, and they are keeping up their good work in early 2013.

  Photo by Zoran Orlic
Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen and Kronos Quartet have a long and storied collaboration. In 1986, he wrote Ground for the quartet which was based on the principle of the baroque ground and created a series of chords – going up and going down symmetrically. Later, he wrote them Last Ground, a darker piece that was to be his last piece in such a dark style.  But things change, and so we come to the present day.

Holmgreen states that after years of reflection, Last Ground “seemed a bit pathetic and I decided to write a new, lighter ground – New Ground. To disappoint my listeners as much as possible I based this piece on a very old and very well-known ground: Pachelbel’s Canon. The piece is tonal and that suggested another atonal composition, No Ground (based on another string quartet – No. 7 from 1984, first performed by Kronos). I am very fond of the elaborated constructivism of the medieval or early renaissance music so in my view the two new quartets needed to be connected and combined. The two quartets can be performed in combination with the four-part vocal piece Green. The text is from medieval England. The pieces are written for the Kronos Quartet and Theatre of Voices.”

David Harrington from Kronos contributed, “Kronos is delighted to come to Copenhagen to help celebrate the 80th birthday of our friend Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen. Pelle's creativity is in full bloom with two new works written for Kronos and two works written for Paul Hillier’s Theatre of Voices and Kronos. It does not get any better in life than to be able to perform Pelle's newest music and to work with Theatre of Voices in Copenhagen.”

The entire suite of new work will be premiered on December 4 at the Konservatoriets Koncertsal in Copenhagen.

Back home in San Francisco, Kronos concludes a multi-year partnership with the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts with a programme highlighting the vibrant creative voices of the quartet's hometown composers, including a new work by Nathaniel Stookey. Of his String Quartet No. 3, “The Mezzanine,” Stookey says, We composers often go to great lengths to discourage our audience from looking for connections between our music and the titles we give it. In the case of my third quartet, the music really is about escalators, drinking straws, shoelaces, vending machines, and cigarette butts. If it doesn’t sound that way to you, I apologise; I did my best with what I had. I would like to thank Nicholson Baker for forever changing my world-view and David Harrington for forever changing the string quartet.”

Kronos Quartet premieres Stookey’s third quartet on February 21 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

Missy Mazzoli’s You Know Me From Here was commissioned by Carol Cole, for the Kronos Quartet, in honor of her husband Tim's 75th birthday. On creating this work, the composer commented:
When she asked me to write this piece I immediately imagined a twenty-minute musical journey homeward, a trek through chaos (I. Lift Your Fists) and loneliness (II. Everything That Rises Must Converge) to a place of security and companionship (III. You Know Me From Here). This is, at its core, music about loss, but in the most positive sense; it speaks of the loss of our old selves, the jumps into the unknown, the leaps of faith we all must make and the beautiful moments when we find solace in a person, in an idea, or in music itself. The music itself shifts constantly from earthy, gritty gestures to soaring, leaping melodies that rarely land where we expect.
Kronos Quartet will give the public world premiere on May 3 at Carnegie Hall.

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