About “Kronos Fifty for the Future”
In 2015, the Kronos Performing Arts Association (KPAA) launched Kronos Fifty for the Future, an education and legacy project that has commissioned—and distributed for free—the first learning library of contemporary repertoire for string quartet. Designed expressly for the training of students and emerging professionals, fifty new works have been commissioned, and scores and parts, as well as supplemental learning materials that include recordings, videos, performance notes, and composer interviews, are available on kronosquartet.org. Lead partner Carnegie Hall and an adventurous group of project partners, including presenters, academic institutions, foundations, and individuals, have joined forces with KPAA to support this exciting program.
Sunrise of the Planetary Dream Collector* (1981)
Terry Riley (b.1935)
Terry Riley first came to prominence in 1964 when, with the groundbreaking In C, he subverted the world of tightly organized atonal composition then in fashion and pioneered the musical aesthetic known as minimalism. Following In C, he quit formal composition in order to concentrate on improvisation and devoted himself to studying North Indian vocal techniques under the legendary Pandit Pran Nath. In 1979, Riley began notating music again when both he and Kronos were on the faculty at Mills College in Oakland. This four-decade-long relationship has yielded dozens of works for string quartet, including a concerto for string quartet, The Sands, which was the Salzburg Festival’s first-ever new music commission; Sun Rings, a NASA-commissioned piece for choir, visuals, and space sounds, the recording for which won the 2020 Grammy for Best Engineered Album, Classical; and The Cusp of Magic, for string quartet and pipa. Kronos’ album Cadenza on the Night Plain, a collection of music by Riley, was selected by both Time and Newsweek as one of the 10 Best Classical Albums of the Year in 1988. The epic five-quartet cycle, Salome Dances for Peace, was selected as the #1 Classical Album of the Year by USA Today and was nominated for a Grammy in 1989.
The title Sunrise of the Planetary Dream Collector draws from Riley’s whimsical notion that there might be a collector who goes around the planet each day, collecting all the dreams so that they can be redistributed the next day.
About Sunrise of the Planetary Dream Collector, Riley writes:
“This work first came about as a minor key extension of Rainbow in Curved Air (1968) and some of the material appeared in a 1973 recording I made as a soundtrack for a film by the French filmmaker Joel Santoni called Lex Yeux Fermes. The real ancestor to this string quartet version with this title wasn’t composed until 1975 and was premiered in a series of concerts I gave at RIAS in Berlin in 1976. The title occurred to me one morning over breakfast during a conversation with Delphine Santoni, Joel’s 7-year old daughter.
“In 1980, when asked by David Harrington of the Kronos Quartet to compose some music for their, at that time very young group, I chose this work as a starting point. It had been over ten years since I had written any music on paper as I had occupied myself at that time with keyboard improvisation and the study of North Indian Raga, but I felt the atmosphere of this work would be very appropriated for strings. I was confident that the modular construction of the music would allow the quartet members freedom to use their performance skills to enhance its basic melodic and rhythmic framework and to give it a shape that would reflect their insights regarding its musical content and feeling.”
Terry Riley’s Sunrise of the Planetary Dream Collector was commissioned for the Kronos Quartet. Sheet music for Sunrise of the Planetary Dream Collector is available in Volume 1 of the Kronos Collection, a performing edition published by Boosey & Hawkes.
YanYanKliYan Senamido #2** (2020)
Angélique Kidjo (b. 1960)
Arranged by Jacob Garchik (b.1976)
Five-time Grammy Award winner Angélique Kidjo is one of the greatest artists in international music today, a creative force with thirteen albums to her name. She is the recipient of the prestigious 2023 Polar Music Prize, the 2015 Crystal Award given by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and the 2016 Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience Award. As a performer, Angélique Kidjo’s striking voice, stage presence, and fluency in multiple cultures and languages have won respect from her peers and expanded her following across national borders. Kidjo has cross-pollinated the West African traditions of her childhood in Benin with elements of American R&B, funk and jazz, as well as influences from Europe and Latin America. Kidjo also travels the world advocating on behalf of children in her capacity as a UNICEF and OXFAM Goodwill Ambassador. She has also created her own charitable foundation, Batonga, dedicated to supporting the education of young girls in Africa.
About YanYanKliYan Senamido, Angélique Kidjo writes:
“In 2014, I recorded an album called EVE, a tribute to my late mother and to the women of Africa. A few groups of Beninese women sung the choruses of my songs. I recorded a song with just vocals and traditional percussion. The rhythm was really complex and typical from Benin. Once the song was finished, I felt something was missing and I had the idea to invite the Kronos Quartet who had great experiences working with African artists. The result, a piece called Ebile, was a revelation. They had captured the complexity of the Beninese polyrhythms and brought a great energy to the track.
“When the Quartet reached out to me for their Fifty for the Future initiative, I could not say no and decided to work on a piece inspired by traditional melodies from Benin. In Beninese traditional music, there is not a clear separation between melody and rhythm. Each percussion is playing a melodic pattern and each vocal melody had a very complex rhythm. I knew the Quartet would be able to play all these grooves and tight rhythms like a group of Africa percussion players would do. I hope YanYanKliYan Senamido will become, for future students, a brief introduction of the beautiful music of my country.”
Tanya Tagaq (b. 1975)
Arranged by Jacob Garchik (b. 1976)
From Ikaluktutiak (Cambridge Bay, Nunavut), internationally celebrated artist Tanya Tagaq is an improvisational singer, avant-garde composer and bestselling author. A member of the Order of Canada, Polaris Music Prize and JUNO Award winner, and recipient of multiple honorary doctorates, Tagaq is an original disruptor, a world-changing figure at the forefront of seismic social, political, and environmental change. Her contribution to Kronos Fifty for the Future is just one chapter in a longstanding creative association with the group. She regularly performs as a guest artist with Kronos, and is featured on the Kronos album, Tundra Songs.
About Sivunittinni, Tagaq writes:
“Sivunittinni, or ‘the future ones,’ comes from a part of a poem I wrote for my album and is the perfect title for this piece. My hope is to bring a little bit of the land to future musicians through this piece. There’s a disconnect in the human condition, a disconnect from nature, and it has caused a great deal of social anxiety and fear, as well as a lack of true meaning of health, and a lack of a relationship with what life is, so maybe this piece can be a little bit of a wake-up.
“Working with the Kronos Quartet has been an honour. We have a symbiosis that allows a lot of growth musically. They teach me so much, I can only hope to reciprocate. Kronos has gifted me the opportunity to take the sounds that live in my body and translate them into the body of instruments. This means so much because the world changes very quickly, and documenting allows future musicians to glean inspiration from our output.”
Peni Candra Rini (b. 1983)
Arranged by Jacob Garchik (b. 1976)
Peni Candra Rini is one of a few contemporary composers, songwriters, poets, and vocalists who performs sinden, a female soloist style of gamelan singing. Strongly committed to preserving and sharing the musical traditions of her home country of Indonesia, Candra Rini has created many works for vocals, gamelan, and karawitan, and regularly collaborates with artists and gamelan groups worldwide. In 2012, Candra Rini completed an artist residency at the California Art Institute, during which she appeared as guest artist at eight American universities and participated in master classes with vocal master Meredith Monk. Candra Rini is also a lecturer in the Karawitan Department and a Doctoral Candidate for Musical Arts at the Indonesian Art Institute (ISI) in Surakarta.
About Maduswara, Peni Candra Rini writes:
“In a changing Javanese society, the decline of the traditional arts has had a major impact on the existence of the female Javanese singer (sindhen). Unlike the fast songs, MIDI instruments, and electric keyboards popular in discotheques today, the rebab is a subtle and old-fashioned instrument and is beginning to be eliminated, reflecting the move away from more delicate presentation gending. The impact is a generational gap where younger singers feel they do not need to study the classical vocabulary because it is rarely used, and sindhen singing is no longer taken seriously in schools. Especially with the emergence of social media and celebrity culture, the duties as a singer and orator of the poetry of life takes second fiddle.
“Maduswara was arranged to encourage this generation of pesindhen to realize their duty as conveyors of the universal values of life because, whether they are aware or not, these artists shape the spirit of the nation.”
Mishra Pilu** (2020)
Aruna Narayan (b. 1955)
Arranged by Reena Esmail (b. 1983)
Born in Mumbai, India, Aruna Narayan Kalle plays the Sarangi, an ancient North Indian bowed instrument is considered one of the most difficult to master, and one of the more undeveloped instruments in both its physical and musical aspects. Its traditional role as an accompaniment instrument for vocal music kept it further in the background. Narayan’s father, renowned Sarangi maestro Pandit Ram Narayan, emerged as its messiah, and due to his efforts, the Sarangi is now well ensconced in the mainstream of the Indian performing arts.
Although Narayan began her music training at the rather late age of eighteen, she made fast progress studying intensively with her father for several years. She has fully captured her father’s disciplined, serious style, yet has also developed a unique voice for her instrument with a warm and generous musical temperament. Her playing is impressive in its subtlety, precision, and grace as well as in its powerful and weighty bowing. As a recipient of Pandit Ram Narayan’s musical legacy, she has consistently worked towards maintaining a highly respectable profile for her instrument.
Narayan was recently a featured soloist in a unique presentation of the music of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, performed by Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra. An hourlong documentary film about this project with an exclusive profile of her has been aired by the CBC and the Bravo channels on several occasions. Her music has been featured in several international and Hollywood films and she regularly teaches in the school system introducing young people to Indian music and the Sarangi. Her recordings are available on the Nimbus (UK) and Zig-Zag (France) labels. In addition to her international performances, she frequently appears in the National Programme of Music on Doordarshan (TV) and other networks in India. Presently she resides in Toronto, Canada where she teaches and performs.
About Mishra Pilu, Aruna Narayan writes:
“This piece is based on Raag Mishra Pilu. Mishra means a mixture of a few different raags that are woven into a central theme. Raag Pilu has a textbook ascending and descending structure. However, because it allows for the inclusion of all twelve notes, it is generally conducive to a wider range of improvisation than the traditional discipline of a raag.
“Since the Kronos Quartet is known for their many successful collaborations with different genres of music, I felt that Mishra Pilu would be a perfect representation of an Indian classical music bouquet! I have maintained the usual format–the “Alaap” which is the first slow movement, followed by a “bandish,” a composition set to a 16-beat rhythm cycle called Teental. Several of these cycles are devoted to a few different raags, returning to the principal line in Pilu.”
My Desert, My Rose** (2015)
Aleksandra Vrebalov (b. 1970)
Aleksandra Vrebalov, a native of the former Yugoslavia, left Serbia in 1995 and now lives in New York City. She has written more than 80 works, ranging from concert music to opera, modern dance to film music. Vrebalov’s long relationship with Kronos has yielded many works, including Beyond Zero (1914–1918) with director Bill Morrison, …hold me, neighbor, in this storm… for the Kronos album Floodplain, Pannonia Boundless, published by Boosey & Hawkes as part of the Kronos Collection and recorded for the album Kronos Caravan, and Missa Supratext for Kronos and San Francisco Girls Chorus. As a Serbian expat, Vrebalov is the recipient of the Golden Emblem from the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for lifelong dedication and contribution to her native country’s culture.
About My Desert, My Rose, Aleksandra Vrebalov writes:
“My Desert, My Rose consists of a series of patterns open in length, meter, tempo, and dynamics, different for each performer. The unfolding of the piece is almost entirely left to each performer’s sensibility and responsiveness to the parts of other members of the group. Instinct and precision are each equally important in the performance of the piece. The patterns are suggested rather than fixed musical lines, so the flow and the length of the piece are unique to each performance. The lines merge and align to separate and then meet again, each time in a more concrete and tighter way. The piece ends in a metric unison, like a seemingly coincidental meeting of the lines predestined to reunite. It is like a journey of four characters that start in distinctly different places, who, after long searching and occasional, brief meeting points, end up in the same space, time, language.”
Quartet No. 4* (1993)
Sofia Gubaiduilina (b. 1931)
Sofia Gubaidulina was born in Chistopol in the Tatar Republic of the Soviet Union in 1931. Until 1992, she lived in Moscow. Since then, she has made her primary residence in Germany, outside Hamburg. Gubaidulina’s compositional interests have been stimulated by the tactile exploration and improvisation with rare Russian, Caucasian, and Asian folk and ritual instruments collected by the “Astreia” ensemble, of which she was a co-founder, by the rapid absorption and personalization of contemporary Western musical techniques (a characteristic, too, of other Soviet composers of the post-Stalin generation that includes Edison Denisov and Alfred Schnittke), and by a deep-rooted belief in the mystical properties of music.
Her uncompromising dedication did not endear her to the Soviet musical establishment, but her music was championed in Russia by a number of devoted performers including Vladimir Tonkha, Friedrich Lips, Mark Pekarsky, and Valery Popov. Since 1985, when she was first allowed to travel to the West, Gubaidulina’s stature in the world of contemporary music has skyrocketed. She has been the recipient of prestigious commissions from the Berlin, Helsinki, and Holland Festivals, the Library of Congress, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, and many other organizations and ensembles.
Gubaidulina is a member of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin and the Freie Akademie der Künste in Hamburg, the Royal Music Academy in Stockholm, and the German order “Pour le mérite.” Her awards include the prestigious Praemium Imperiale in Japan, the Sonning Prize in Denmark, the Polar Music Prize in Sweden, the Great Distinguished Service Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, and the Living Composer Prize of the Cannes Classical Awards. In 2004, she was elected as a foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Of String Quartet No. 4, Gubaidulina writes:
“What interested me especially with this piece was how the ‘real’ arises from the ‘unreal’: the ‘real’ normal play of arco or pizzicato arising from the ‘unreal’ transparent sounds of rubber balls on the strings; the ‘real’ on-stage playing of the quartet arising from the ‘unreal’ playing by the same musicians on a pre-recorded tape; the ‘real’ colored lights arising from the ‘unreal’ white and black (white and black, after all, represent the absence of light; color becomes ‘unreal’ within them).
“As such, three trinities unfold: the sound of the quartet and its two recorded hypostases; the real form and its two recorded satellites; and the creative reality of the play of light and its two unreal protagonists of complete light and complete darkness.
“All the details of the piece—both its material essence and its compositional design—are derived from the basic idea that ‘real genuine’ is born of the ‘unreal artificial’ (and not the reverse). For me, this idea was best expressed in T. S. Eliot’s ‘Four Quartets.’ I would be pleased if my composition were to be heard and perceived as a musical response to the creative world of that great poet.”
Sofia Gubaidulina’s String Quartet No. 4 was commissioned for Kronos by Mrs. Ralph I. Dorfman, the Barbican (London), and Théâtre de la Ville (Paris). Kronos’ recording of String Quartet No. 4 can be found on the Nonesuch recordings Night Prayers and Kronos Quartet: 25 Years. Gubaidulina’s String Quartet No. 2 appears on Kronos’ Nonesuch recording Short Stories.
Laurie Anderson (b. 1947)
Arranged by Jacob Garchik (b. 1976)
Laurie Anderson is one of America’s most renowned–and daring–creative pioneers. Known primarily for her multimedia presentations, she has cast herself in roles as varied as visual artist, composer, poet, photographer, filmmaker, electronics whiz, vocalist, and instrumentalist.
O Superman launched Anderson’s recording career in 1980, rising to number two on the British pop charts. In 2001, Anderson released her first record for Nonesuch Records, entitled Life on a String, which was followed by Live in New York, recorded at Town Hall in New York City in September 2001. The original version of Flow is the final track on her 2010 Nonesuch album Homeland and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental.
Recognized worldwide as a groundbreaking leader in the use of technology in the arts, Anderson was appointed the first artist-in-residence of NASA. She was also part of the team that created the opening ceremony for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. In 2007 she received the prestigious Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize for her outstanding contribution to the arts.
Jacob Garchik’s arrangement of Flow by Laurie Anderson was commissioned for the Kronos Quartet by the David Harrington Research and Development Fund.
Nicole Lizée (b. 1973)
PhoneTap + CCTV
Called “a brilliant musical scientist” (CBC) and “breathtakingly inventive” (Sydney Morning Herald, Australia), composer and video artist Nicole Lizée creates music from an eclectic mix of influences, including the earliest MTV videos, rave culture, Stanley Kubrick, Alexander McQueen, thrash metal, 1960s psychedelia, and 1960s modernism. Lizée’s compositions range from works for orchestra and solo turntablist, to other unorthodox instrument combinations that include the Atari 2600 video game console, omnichords, Simon™, vintage board games, and karaoke tapes. In the broad scope of her evolving oeuvre, she explores such themes as malfunction, reviving the obsolete, and the harnessing of imperfection and glitch to create a new kind of precision.
Lizée received a Master of Music degree from McGill University in 2001. Since then, she has been awarded the Prix Opus for Composer of the Year (2019), the SOCAN Jan. V. Matejcek Award (2017), and the Canada Council for the Arts Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music (2013). This Will Not Be Televised, her seminal piece for chamber ensemble and turntables, placed in the 2008 UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers’ Top 10 Works.
About ZonelyHearts, Lizée writes:
“Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone: a singular series brimming with imagination and creativity that left an indelible impression on its audience. The tone and messaging inherent in the series were powerful, unrelenting, and often controversial but wholly relevant; and it remains relevant– arguably more than ever–today.
“ZonelyHearts does not sample content from the series but rather takes its cue from the tone and certain subject matter and messages–namely: mind control, censorship, surveillance, brainwashing, and revisionist history through altering and banning books. (These issues have a personal importance.) Perhaps its strongest message is freedom of expression and freedom to take artistic risks–both of which resonate strongly with me.
“The sounds and visual elements from the Twilight Zone series have become iconic. From a compositional perspective, these elements are as appealing to me as any traditional member of the orchestra. Even Rod Serling’s voice in his narrations and introductions impart a unique timbre and musical inflection. In ZonelyHearts, specially created sounds and custom-made devices are integrated to mirror and embody the spirit of the series in my own way. Part of the joy of experiencing the TV series is its ability to surprise, and I look to convey this element in my own work.
“Having discussed and planned this Twilight Zone-inspired concept with Kronos for a few years now, I am pleased to finally present this first chapter–or first episode–with more to come!”
Nicole Lizée’s ZonelyHearts was commissioned for the Kronos Quartet by Andrea Lunsford and the Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English Centennial.
*Written for Kronos
**Written for Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Quartet Learning Repertoire