The 22nd Pohoda will see one of the most famous chamber ensembles in the world: Kronos Quartet. The American Grammy Award winning string quartet has collaborated with the likes of David Bowie, Björk or Paul McCartney as well as with contemporary classical music composers such as Terry Riley, Arvo Pärt, Philip Glass, John Adams, Henryk Górecki or Steve Reich. You come across their music when watching films Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, 21 Grams or The Great Beauty. Their concert at Trenčín Airport will no doubt be a great beauty as well.
Kronos Quartet was founded by David Harrington in Seattle in 1973. Since 1978, the quartet has been based in San Francisco. In the 1980s, the significance of the ensemble was rising mainly thanks to their amazing performances of pieces composed by world-wide known minimalists. Almost 1,000 original pieces have been written for the Kronos Quartet to date and they have sold more than 1.5 million records. Besides classical music, they have also recorded adaptations of music by Bob Dylan, Sigur Rós or Jimi Hendrix, have performed with Allen Ginsberg, Tom Waits, The National, Paul McCartney and have recorded with Amon Tobin, Faith No More, Dave Matthews Band or Nine Inch Nails. Broader audience is familiar with their rendition of Clint Mansell’s “Lux Aeterna,” the leitmotif of the film Requiem for a Dream. Vladimir Martynov’s piece “The Beatitudes” from the Academy Award winning film The Great Beauty is no less successful. Kronos Quartet are not just a group of string instrument virtuosi for connoiseurs. With their original approach to music as well as to live performances, they have also gained admirers outside of the music school graduates bubble. In the beginning, their bold concert programs were not always well-received by the critics, though. An example would be the quartet’s adaptation of Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” that they played as an encore to Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring”.
The tireless discoverers continue exploring on their latest albums as well. For example, on their musical journey around the world – the ethnomusicological and autobiographical compilation A Thousand Thoughts from 2014 – or on last year’s albums Ladilikan (an amazing collaboration with Trio Da Kali) and Folk Songs (traditional British and French folk songs). The recordings underscore the main idea present throughout the 45-year-long history of the ensemble: to bring musical diversity without intellectual compromise. The latest live documentary A Thousand Thoughts (directed by Sam Green and Joe Bini) depicts quartet’s past and present from the point of view of its members. Funds for this extraordinary project were raised via Kickstarter. In the description, Green says the following: “For those of you who don’t know, the Kronos Quartet is like the Michael Jordan, or the Bob Dylan, or perhaps even the Williams sisters of the classical world.” Last week, the documentary became one of the most impressive events at the Sundance film festival. What is specific to the documentary is that the screening featured Green’s narration and Kronos Quartet live performance. Their newest project Kronos’ Fifty for the Future puts together ten young composers (five women and five men) whose works Kronos premiere within their concerts across the world. Kronos Performing Arts Association (KPAA) distributes all the pieces, scores, recordings, videos and interviews online for free.
Is a multi-genre summer festival a suitable place for the most famous string quartet? David Harrington, the founder of the ensemble gave the answer in last year’s interview for Pravda daily when he said: “I don’t see music making sense only when played in concert halls, clubs or opera houses. Music is so vast and free that it doesn’t really matter where we find it and where we listen to it.” You will get a chance to listen to indeed beautiful music performed by David Harrington, John Sherba, Hank Dutt and Sunny Yang at Trenčín Airport at the beginning of July.