February 22, 2013

Kronos Quartet: Listen Local

photo by Styrous®

Last night I had the pleasure of hearing the Kronos Quartet in concert at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

(click on any image to see larger size)
 Kronos Quartet
left to right: Hank Dutt (viola), John Sherba (violin), 
David Harrington (violin) & Jeffrey Zeigler (cello)
photo by Michael Wilson

The performance, titled Kronos: Listen Local, featured compositions by Dan Becker, Nathaniel Stookey, Stephen Prutsman and Pamela Z. All the composers are San Francisco Bay Area residents and they were there for the pre-concert discussions moderated by Sarah Cahill. It was fascinating to hear them talk about their compositions.

pre-performance panel discussion
 photo by Styrous®

The first part of the concert opened with the composition, Carrying the Past, by Dan Becker. It featured samplings from a 1920's recording of "My Sweetie and Me" by Eddy Sandson, Becker's grandfather, who played trumpet on the recording. It was amazing to hear the quartet weave in, out and around the samplings of the bouncy, happy tune. It was the West Coast premier of the work. A brilliant performance!

photo by Alec Duncan

It was followed by the world premier of Nathaniel Stookey's String Quartet No. 3,The Mezzanine”. What an intriguing piece it was. Stookey has worked with The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Lost Angeles Philharmonic and the Hallé Orchestra in Sheffield, England.

 Nathaniel Stookey
photo by Ole Lütjens, ©2011

The second half of the concert opened with four beautiful and exciting compositions by Stephen Prutsman based on East-Indian and Middle-Eastern songs.

One of the songs, "Mehbooba Mehbooba (Beloved, O Beloved)", was by Indian film score composer, Rahul Dev Burman, from the film Sholay. It is a bouncy, joyous and melodious song with an exuberant feeling that made me want to get up and dance.
photographer unknown

This was followed by the premier performance of the composition Pamela Z created for the Kronos Quartet, "And the Movement of the Tongue". It featured sound samplings of various people speaking words, phrases and statements highlighting the sound variations from region to region in the United Sates and from around the world. As the words swirled in intricate patterns the quartet wove it's musical magic around these samplings which was something quite extraordinary to experience.

photo by Styrous®

Pamela Z embracing David Harrington of the Kronos Quartet
after the performance of her work
photo by Styrous®

The Kronos ended the program with an extremely beautiful transcription for string quartet of the Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde by Richard Wagner.

  Richard Wagner 1871

The lighting design by Lawrence Neff was stunning in its subtlety. Sounds incongruous? What he did was set the lighting so there was an EXTREMELY slow, constant shifting of color and patterns through the entire concert with no distinction between works played. So slow you didn't even see it happening. You'd be lost in the music then all of a sudden you realized the lighting was totally different. It had been so slow you hadn't been aware of the changes. It was beautiful!

photo by Styrous®

The music of Eddy Sandson can be heard on Sound Cloud
"Mehbooba Mehbooba", performed by Kronos, can be heard on YouTube
Perfomances by Pamela Z can be heard on YouTube

What an incredible evening of fine and unique music playing by a group that has been a source of joy for me to listen to for decades. Thank you, Kronos.

Styrous ~ February 22, 2013


1 comment:

  1. Thanks Max, Reading about the concert and your experience took me on a very nice little trip. Wish I'd been there! Mary


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