The internationally renowned Kronos Quartet closes the 2014-15 Lawrence University Artist Series with a performance Friday, May 15 at 8 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.
Tickets, at $25/30 for adults, $20/25 for seniors and $18/20 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.
Since their founding in 1973, the Kronos Quartet – violinists David Harrington and John Sherba, violist Hank Dutt and cellist Sunny Yang — has become one of the most celebrated ensembles in classical music. Known for their dedication to fostering relationships with both young and established composers, the quartet has commissioned more than 800 pieces of music during its 41-year history – nearly one every two weeks.
“Certainly, many fine ensembles have worked to commission new works, collaborate with composers, artists and literary figures, reach new audiences and make connections with ethnic and folk traditions. However, no ensemble of any kind has consistently done all of these things with the pioneering spirit and artistic vision of the Kronos Quartet,” said Associate Professor of Music Matthew Michelic, who knew and performed with Sherba when they were both undergraduates at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
“One can easily argue that on the international scene, the Kronos Quartet has been the most influential chamber music ensemble of the last 40 years,” Michelic added.
Harrington was inspired to form the group after hearing a radio broadcast of “Black Angels,” an urgent, unorthodox musical response to the Vietnam War by the American composer George Crumb. Since then, the group has commissioned and premiered works by many of the most important contemporary composers, including John Adams, Steve Reich and Phillip Glass.
“One can easily argue that on the international scene, the Kronos Quartet has been the most influential chamber music ensemble of the last 40 years.”
— Matthew Michelic
Composer Terry Riley, one of the fathers of minimalism, has been an especially frequent collaborator, having written 27 pieces for the quartet. Riley cites his relationship with Kronos as a major influence on his work.
“By sitting down and actually writing the music I’d been improvising, I started to see new possibilities in the music itself, especially viewed through the lens of a string quartet,” Riley said.
Kronos’ concert program will include selections from one of the pieces Riley wrote for the group, “Salome Dances for Peace.”
Dedicated to fostering young composers, Kronos’ “Under 30 Project” commissions work every year from composers who have yet to turn 30 years old. The 2015-16 season will be the first year of their new “50 for the Future” initiative, which will commission 50 works – 10 per year for the next five years — devoted to contemporary approaches to the quartet and designed expressly for the training of students and emerging professionals.
Kronos’ singular focus on new music has led the New York Times to credit the group with “reinventing the string quartet as a vehicle of limitless stylistic breadth.”
In addition to touring extensively, the quartet has released more than 50 recordings. Their extensive list of honors and awards includes the 2011 Polar Music Prize, the 2011 Avery Fisher Prize, a 2004 Grammy for Best Chamber Music Performance and Musical America’s 2003 “Musicians of the Year” designation.
About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.