Kronos Quartet’s Fifty for the Future

Kronos Quartet performing in Warsaw, Poland in...

Source: Kronos Quartet.

This April, Kronos Quartet/Kronos Performing Arts Association celebrates spring with events tied to Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire, an exciting partnership with Carnegie Hall and others to create 50 new works – by 25 women and 25 men – expressly for the training of students and emerging professionals. Concerts at Zankel Hall highlight the first crop of Kronos’ Fifty for the Future pieces, performed by Kronos (April 2) and a trio of emerging quartets (April 15). Five of the works will be issued online for free on April 15. With a clutch of additional tour performances in the mix, it’s an exceptionally fertile season for the iconic ensemble.

On Saturday, April 2 (7:30 pm) Kronos Quartet brings a program consisting entirely of world and New York premieres to Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall. Four of the pieces, including the world premieres by Aleksandra Vrebalov and Yotam Haber, are part of Kronos’ Fifty for the Future. The evening also includes music by Wu Man, Pete Townshend, Nicole Lizée, and others; guest artists include kantele (Finnish zither) player Ritva Koistinen and electronic artist Philip White. The program in full:

Aleksandra Vrebalov: My Desert, My Rose (world premiere, Fifty for the Future commission)
Nicole Lizée: The Golden Age of the Radiophonic Workshop [Fiber-Optic Flowers] (NY Premiere)
N. Rajam: Dadra in Raga Bhairavi (arr. Reena Esmail) (NY Premiere)
Wu Man: “Ancient Echo” from Four Chinese Paintings (arr. Danny Clay) (NY Premiere, Fifty for the Future commission)
Karin Rehnqvist: All Those Strings! with Ritva Koistinen, kantele (NY Premiere)
Yotam Haber: break_break_break with Philip White, electronics (world premiere, Fifty for the Future commission)
Fodé Lassana Diabaté: “Bara kala ta” from Sunjata’s Time (arr. Jacob Garchik) (NY Premiere, Fifty for the Future commission)
Pete Townshend: Baba O’Riley (arr. Jacob Garchik) (NY Premiere)
Albert Behar: Lost Wax (NY Premiere)

The evening forms a colorful snapshot of Kronos’ omnivorous sensibility, with works inspired by Hindustani raga (Rajam), Chinese folk music (Wu Man), string theory (Rehnqvist), and South African rap-rave sounds (Haber). There are tributes to pioneering electronic composer Delia Derbyshire (Lizée), frequent Kronos collaborator Terry Riley (Townshend), Malian warrior-prince Sunjata (Diabaté), and the ethnographic field recordings of Béla Bartók (Behar).

Following the April 2 performance, Kronos will be in residence at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute to lead a weeklong workshop for young professional string quartets. The residency culminates in a recital by a trio of emerging ensembles on Friday, April 15 (9 pm) at Zankel Hall. Under the rubric “Kronos: Creating a New Repertoire,” the Argus Quartet (Los Angeles), Friction Quartet (San Francisco), and Ligeti Quartet (London) will perform Fifty for the Future works by Fodé Lassana Diabaté, Garth Knox, and Wu Man, plus selections from Terry Riley’s Salome Dances for Peace. Each quartet will play a different movement of each piece, enabling listeners to hear different interpretations in the same evening. All together, the program offers a compelling look at Kronos’s Fifty for the Future project in action:

Fodé Lassana Diabaté: Selections from Sunjata’s Time (arr. Jacob Garchik) (NY Premiere, Fifty for the Future commission)
Garth Knox: Satellites (NY Premiere, Fifty for the Future commission)
Wu Man: Selections from Four Chinese Paintings (arr. Danny Clay) (NY Premiere, Fifty for the Future commission)
Terry Riley: Selections from Salome Dances for Peace
The Gift
The Ecstasy
Good Medicine
Note: Kronos Quartet will not perform on the April 15 program. Tickets for both concerts are available at

Also on April 15, Kronos will make the first five Fifty for the Future pieces available online free of charge at In addition to the Diabaté, Knox, Vrebalov, and Wu Man works mentioned above, the initial set of five includes Franghiz Ali-Zadeh’s Rəqs (Dance). Each piece will be offered in an online module containing the score and parts, a recording, program notes, a videotaped interview with the composer, performance notes/instructions, and other relevant materials about the composition. Over the next five years, the project will result in 50 compositions, all distributed for free in this way.