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Carnegie Hall to Present Kronos Quartet In Premieres By Jonathan Berger, Aleksandra Vrebalov & inti Ffiggis-vizueta

Plus George Crumb's Black Angels, Which Inspired the Founding of Kronos

Carnegie Hall to Present Kronos Quartet In Premieres By Jonathan Berger, Aleksandra Vrebalov & inti Ffiggis-vizueta

On Friday, April 23, 2022 at 9:30pm, Carnegie Hall presents the renowned Kronos Quartet at Zankel Hall. Their program features George Crumb's Black Angels, the iconic work that inspired the founding of the ensemble, and the New York premiere of a suite from composer Jonathan Berger and librettist Harriet Scott Chessman's opera Mai Lai - both written as responses to injustices that occurred during the Vietnam War. The concert also includes the world premiere of Aleksandra Vrebalov's ilektrike?s rímes, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall, and the New York premiere of inti figgis-vizueta's music by yourself. Violinists David Harrington and John Sherba, violist Hank Dutt, and cellist Sunny Yang make up the Kronos Quartet, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary in the 2023-24 season.

George Crumb's Black Angels, subtitled "Thirteen Images from the Dark Land," is a powerful parable written in response to the Vietnam War, scored for amplified string quartet with percussive sounds, spoken-word passages, and other special effects. In Crumb's words, "At the outset, I wasn't planning anything like a political statement; I was just writing a piece of music. But very soon after I got into the sketching process, I became aware that the musical ideas were picking up vibrations from the surrounding world, which was the world of the Vietnam time. And there were dark currents operating and those things were somehow finding their way into the conception of the string quartet. By the time I finished writing the whole piece, in token of this recognition of its character and identifying with that very dark time, I inscribed the work 'In Time of War' using the model of Joseph Haydn's 'Mass in Time of War.'" Founding quartet violinist David Harrington was so inspired by Black Angels that, in 1973, he decided to establish the Kronos Quartet, which eventually made its own recording of the piece in 1990.

Kronos Quartet performs the world premiere of New York-based Serbian composer Aleksandra Vrebalov's ilektrike?s rímes "Electric Rhymes," which the composer describes as "a plea for health, love, and creativity, after times of disease and fear. It celebrates the omnipresent creative spirit expressed in a messy and unceasing life force swirling around and within us. The piece was supposed to mark my 50th birthday, celebrating my long-lasting, productive relationship with Kronos Quartet. Instead, I wrote it at the height of the pandemic and its premiere coincides with the destruction and loss of life unseen in Europe since the falling apart of my country of origin, former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. From a birthday song, ilektrikés rímes evolved to a meditation, a lament, a cry, and, more than anything, to a prayer for peace on planet Earth. The work is dedicated to the memory of George Crumb and of my father Stevan Vrebalov."

New York City-based composer inti figgis-vizueta's music by yourself receives its New York premiere in this concert. Of the piece, inti says, "I love listening to music alone, especially late at night - details feel different, somehow heavier and closer to skin. I love the focus of a dark space, with sounds emerging almost alive (even in earbuds). Memory springs forth too, I have found. In live performance, this dark feels like another material to play through & around. Its presence asks for a trust that there are other people really out there, while giving the intimate gift of music alone; closeness in distance. In forms unfolding from memory and shared motion, music by yourself is about connecting to people who are and aren't still here."

The evening closes with the New York premiere of Ma?? Lai Suite from composer Jonathan Berger and librettist Harriet Scott Chessman's highly acclaimed opera Ma?? Lai, performed with vocalist Rinde Eckert and instrumentalist Va?n-A?nh Vanessa Vo?, who plays the t'ru?ng, ?'a?n bâ?u, and ?'a?n tranh. Ma?? Lai is a powerful story about the Ma?? Lai massacre and the ethical dilemmas of an individual placed in an impossible situation, with a dramatic score emphasizing the bleakness and horror of the Vietnam War. It centers on Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson, the U.S. Army helicopter pilot who intervened in the U.S. Army massacre of over 500 unarmed South Vietnamese civilians - nearly half of them children - in the hamlet of Ma?? Lai on March 16, 1968. Appalled by what he saw, Thompson interceded by reporting the incident, landing his helicopter between The Civilians and the troops in an attempt to prevent further bloodshed, and threatened to open fire on soldiers from his own country. Failing to stop the carnage, he flew a wounded child to safety, and his subsequent refusal to remain silent about the massacre forced an inquiry and trial that shocked the nation, yet it left Thompson vilified as a disloyal outcast for much of his life. "The musical materials of Ma?? Lai are largely derived from a prayer recited near the conclusion of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, beseeching pardon before the doors of judgment close," says composer Jonathan Berger. The world premiere recording of Ma?? Lai will be released on May 20, 2022 on Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and is dedicated to the memory of Larry Colburn, one of the three soldiers on the helicopter, who attended the world premiere performance of Ma?? Lai in Chicago.

Performance Details:
Carnegie Hall Presents Kronos Quartet
Saturday, April 23, 2022 at 9:30pm
Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall | 881 7th Avenue | New York, NY
Tickets: $65 - $80

GEORGE CRUMB: Black Angels
ALEKSANDRA VREBALOV: ilektrike?s rímes (World Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall)
INTI FIGGIS-VIZUETA: music by yourself (New York Premiere)
JONATHAN BERGER / Harriet Scott CHESSMAN: Mai Lai Suite (New York Premiere)

Kronos Quartet
David Harrington, Violin
John Sherba, Violin
Hank Dutt, Viola
Sunny Yang, Cello

About Kronos Quartet

For 48 years, San Francisco's Kronos Quartet - David Harrington (violin), John Sherba (violin), Hank Dutt (viola), and Sunny Yang (cello) - has combined a spirit of fearless exploration with a commitment to continually reimagine the string quartet experience. In the process, Kronos has become one of the world's most celebrated and influential ensembles, performing thousands of concerts, releasing more than 60 recordings, collaborating with many of the world's most accomplished composers and performers, and commissioning over 1,000 works and arrangements for string quartet. Kronos has received over 40 awards, including the prestigious Polar Music, Avery Fisher, and Edison Klassiek Oeuvre Prizes.

Integral to Kronos' work is a series of long-running associations with many of the world's foremost composers and musicians, including Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, Philip Glass, Nicole Lizée, Vladimir Martynov, Steve Reich, Aleksandra Vrebalov, and Wu Man. Kronos has shared the stage with numerous artists, including David Bowie, Asha Bhosle, Rhiannon Giddens, Sam Green, Zakir Hussain, Trevor Paglen, Van Dyke Parks, Alim Qasimov, San Francisco Girls Chorus, Tanya Tagaq, Mahsa Vahdat, Tom Waits, and Howard Zinn.

Touring for five months each year, Kronos appears in the world's most prestigious concert halls, clubs, and festivals. Kronos has a prolific and wide-ranging discography on Nonesuch Records, including three Grammy-winning albums - Terry Riley's Sun Rings (2019), Landfall with Laurie Anderson (2018), and Alban Berg's Lyric Suite featuring Dawn Upshaw (2003). Among Kronos' recent releases are Ladilikan (World Circuit Records) with Malian musicians Trio Da Kali; Michael Gordon: Clouded Yellow (Cantaloupe), Placeless (Kirkelig Kulturverksted) with Iranian vocalists Mahsa and Marjan Vahdat, and Long Time Passing: Kronos & Friends Celebrate Pete Seeger (Smithsonian Folkways).

The nonprofit Kronos Performing Arts Association manages all aspects of Kronos' work, including the commissioning of new works, concert tours and home season performances, education programs, and the annual Kronos Festival. In 2015, Kronos launched Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire, an education and legacy project that is commissioning-and distributing online for free-50 new works for string quartet written by composers from around the world. Learn more at

Photo credit: Lenny Gonzalez

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