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Kronos Presents Kronos Festival 2017: HERE AND Now

The San Francisco-based, Grammy-winning Kronos Quartet / Kronos Performing Arts Association (KPAA) is pleased to present its third annual hometown music festival, KRONOS FESTIVAL 2017: Here and Now. With six concerts over three days, KRONOS FESTIVAL 2017 showcases the innovations of the Bay Area's contemporary music community.

With Kronos taking center stage for three evening concerts, performances will feature some of the region's most engaging composers from Minimalism pioneer Terry Riley to renowned Indian violinist Kala Ramnath, and transcendent guest musicians from the breathtaking Persian singer Mahsa Vahdat to the ethereal sounds of traditional Vietnamese instrumentalist Vân-Ánh Võ.

"This festival focuses the spotlight on Kronos' relationships with San Francisco Bay Area composers, arrangers, and musicians from many corners of the musical landscape, as well as the huge energetic promise of local students," says David Harrington, Kronos' artistic director, founder, and violinist.

This year's festival highlights the ingenious and arresting work of Iranian-American composer Sahba Aminikia, who serves as the festival's artist-in-residence. The 35-year old composer has been writing vivid works for Kronos since 2005. His work is featured throughout the festival in collaborations with Kronos and visionary singer Mahsa Vahdat, San Francisco Girls Chorus, students from the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts, The Living Earth Show, Amaranth Quartet, Delphi Trio, and Mobius Trio.

"My music is inspired by human stories around me," says Aminikia. "I am struck by generalizations about cultures unknown to us. We hear mostly about hardship and oppression, despite the fact that people of every nation find their own balance between hardship and pleasure. I would like to demonstrate a drop of the ocean of beauty that exists in every one of these cultures, including those in my home country."

A thread woven throughout the festival is Kronos' Fifty for the Future education initiative, which is commissioning - and distributing for free - a learning library of contemporary repertoire. Ten of these 50 commissions will be performed by Kronos and, fittingly, by SOTA's Dragon String Quartet and the impressive young ensemble Thalea String Quartet, the first ever quartet in residence at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

For more than 40 years, Kronos Quartet has re-imagined and redefined the string quartet experience. The quartet has been celebrated for breaking "the boundaries of what string quartets do" (New York Times) and "elevating a concert of music to a spiritual trip through our common humanity" (The Globe and Mail). Kronos has performed thousands of concerts worldwide, commissioned more than 900 works for string quartet, released over 60 recordings, including soundtracks for such films as Requiem for a Dream and How to Survive a Plague, received a Grammy in addition to more than 40 other awards, and collaborated with many of the world's most accomplished composers and performers.

Thursday, February 2, 7:30pm: Opening Night / The Sun Rises
The festival kicks off with the first of ten featured works composed or arranged by the festival's artist-in-residence Sahba Aminikia. Performed by Kronos and students from the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts, Grandma's House is a joyful fanfare inspired by Aminikia's nostalgia for 1980s Iranian children's television shows. The evening features two incredible locally-based guest artists. The mesmerizing Iranian vocalist (and Oakland newcomer) Mahsa Vahdat sings songs from her recent a cappella album The Sun Will Rise, among others, with new arrangements for herself and Kronos by Aminikia.

Returning after last year's critically acclaimed performance of Aminikia's Sound Only Sound Remains, the vibrant and expressive San Francisco Girls Chorus premieres his Music of the Spheres, which Aminikia calls "a lullaby without borders." The new piece features the melodies and lyrics of lullabies from three different regions of Iran, as well as documented sounds from the youth choir and ensembles of the Afghan National Institute of Music, an inspiring program that gives Afghanistan's most disadvantaged children a safe place to grow, learn, and play music.

The concert spotlights three works composed for Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire by Bay Area artists, including Trey Spruance (of Secret Chiefs 3 and Mr. Bungle), celebrated Indian classical violinist Kala Ramnath, and "post-Mexican" experimental composer Guillermo Galindo. Launched in 2015, Kronos' Fifty for the Future is an education program that is commissioning a free, open-access library of string quartets for the express purpose of guiding students and early-career professionals in developing and honing the skills required for the performance of 21st-century repertoire. The evening's program also includes an unusual instrumental and choreographic work by Stanford University professor Mark Applebaum and a cover of Baba O'Riley, The Who's tribute to Terry Riley.

Friday, February 3, 7:30pm: Day 2 / Carrying the Past
On Friday, Kronos highlights some of its local collaborations both old and new. Composer Van Dyke Parks, best known as lyricist for The Beach Boys' Smile and arranger of countless rock songs by everyone from U2 to Joanna Newsom, will join the quartet as narrator in his new work featuring the poetry of San Francisco icon Lawrence Ferlinghetti, which Parks set to music. Haegeum (a two-stringed Korean fiddle) virtuoso and UC Berkeley visiting scholar Soo Yeon Lyuh joins the quartet in the world premiere of Yessori, a work she composed for her signature instrument and Kronos.

Kronos will also revisit Minimalism master Terry Riley's science fiction fantasia The Serquent Risadome (Bay Area premiere), Hamza el Din's Escalay from Pieces of Africa, one of the best-selling string quartet albums of all time, and San Francisco-based composer Dan Becker's Carrying the Past. An arrangement of Kayhan Kalhor and Mohammad Reza Shajarian's Rain by Aminikia rounds out the evening.

The concert will begin with a very special guest performance by the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts' outstanding Dragon String Quartet performing Aleksandra Vrebalov's My Desert, My Rose, which was composed for Kronos' Fifty for the Future.

Saturday, February 4, 11am: Family Concert: Around the World with Kronos
An hour-long, family friendly concert featuring a mix of lively and eclectic music from all over the world.

Saturday, February 4, 2pm: Persian Dances: Music of Sahba Aminikia, featuring Amaranth Quartet, Delphi Trio, and Mobius Trio
Amaranth Quartet, Delphi Trio, and Mobius Trio, three of the Bay Area's most impressive young ensembles to come out of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, survey the emotionally poignant and musically rich works of artist-in-residence Sahba Aminikia. This intimate concert features diverse works for solo piano, piano trio, string quartet, and guitar. The concert concludes with an informal conversation with Aminikia.

Saturday, February 4, 5pm: Thalea String Quartet Plays Kronos' Fifty for the Future
Thalea String Quartet, the first-ever quartet in residence at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, highlights Kronos' commitment to younger generations of string quartets in a performance of select works from Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire. Thalea also performs Terry Riley's Sunrise of the Planetary Dream Collector, the first piece that the composer wrote for Kronos back in 1981, and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw's Entr'acte.

Saturday, February 4, 7:30pm: Day 3 / The Odyssey
The festival closes out with Bay Area resident Vân-Ánh Võ, a masterful performer of Vietnamese traditional instruments, joining Kronos onstage to remount excerpts from her evening-length piece The Odyssey. In new arrangements, the powerful work explores the journeys of the Vietnamese "Boat People," refugees who went to heroic lengths to escape the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Kronos and Võ also perform My Lai Lullaby, an instrumental prelude written by Stanford University professor Jonathan Berger to his monodrama about helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson, one of the heroic US soldiers who tried to stop the My Lai massacre.

The concert continues to spotlight festival artist-in-residence Sahba Aminikia with the world premiere by Kronos of an untitled new work inspired by the prominent Persian violinist Parviz Yahaghi, as well as a special solo performance by The Living Earth Show of Sooge Sohrab, a unique musical setting for electric guitar and percussion of the popular Persian myth of Sohrab and Rostam. From Ferdowsi's 10th-century epic poem Shahnameh, the tragic story details how Rostam's ignorance leads him to kill Sohrab, his own son.

Also on the program is Starry Night, from Aleksandra Vrebalov's recent suite of music inspired by the Northern California community of The Sea Ranch; San Francisco Conservatory of Music graduate Kevin Villalta's arrangement of the classic Colombian cowboy joropo Y Soy Llanero; and Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq's new work for string quartet, Sivunittinni, which she composed for Kronos' Fifty for the Future.
KRONOS FESTIVAL 2017 is produced by the Kronos Performing Arts Association (KPAA) and is part of the San Francisco-based 501(c)3 nonprofit's KRONOS PRESENTS program. It is made possible by generous support from San Francisco Grants for the Arts, The Bernard Osher Foundation, and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, with additional support provided by the KPAA's Board of Directors.

For more than 40 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 re-imagining the string quartet experience. In the process, Kronos has become one of the world's most celebrated and influential ensembles, performing thousands of concerts worldwide, releasing more than 60 recordings, collaborating with many of the world's most accomplished composers and performers, and commissioning more than 900 works and arrangements for string quartet. A Grammy winner, Kronos is also the recipient of the prestigious Polar Music and Avery Fisher Prizes. With a staff of 12, the nonprofit Kronos Performing Arts Association (KPAA) manages all aspects of Kronos' work, including the commissioning of new works, concert tours and home-season performances, and education programs.

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