Michael Macrone
Articles & Essays

The Time Has Come for the Kronos Quartet

“In the world today there are but a few ensembles which dare to set the pace for the future of chamber music. The Kronos Quartet is one of them.” In itself, a daring statement. But as Kronos continues its 1984/85 season Present Tense, comprising some 100 performances worldwide, the grandiose claims seem matched by this San Francisco-based string quartet’s ambition, vision, intelligence and dedication. The Kronos Quartet (David Harrington and John Sherba, violins; Hank Dutt, viola; and Joan Jeanrenaud, cello) has become recognized for its vast repertory of modern quartets that collectively challenge traditional “genres,” and many of which were commissioned by or for Kronos. For David Harrington, the chance to work with contemporary composers such as Terry Riley (a personal friend), John Cage and Frank Zappa is both exciting and gratifying: “Music is more than just notes on paper; to talk through a piece with the composer, to collaborate in the reading of a work, enhances and clarifies the interpretation. If we can’t have that personal contact, we imagine we do. That lends a certain reality to the music.”

Kronos-photo-250x304 The current configuration of Kronos, originally founded by Harrington in Seattle in 1973, has a special rapport which elicits an interplay both synergistic and coherent. Kronos performs with a passion and freshness that make the listener question his or her experience.

The third concert of Present Tense will be held at Herbst Theatre in the Civic Center on November 30 at 8 p.m. The program for the evening features the World Premiere of “Weavings” by William Kraft, with guest percussionist William Winant. Other pieces on the program include “Changes” by Philip Glass, Peter Maxwell Davies’ “Quartet Movement,” “Contrasts” by Peter Szegho,s and Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 15. The works by Szegho and Davies are both local premieres. Tickets to the performance are available through the Herbst Theatre Box Office, City Box Office, Ticketron and other major ticket agencies. Charge by phone at 392–4400. David Harrington promises “an evening of art music that is a peak experience—a motivating force for the audience.”

—Michael Macrone

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First published in the Key: This Week in San Francisco (November, 1984)


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