The Kronos Quartet comes to Cuse

Preview: The Kronos Quartet prepares for a week long stay at Syracuse University

Starting tomorrow, Syracuse University students will have the opportunity to learn from, share with and exchange ideas with the members of the legendary Kronos Quartet. The string quarter’s weeklong residency at the university includes workshops and classes with the artists, a screening of Darren Aronofsky’s “Requiem for a Dream,” for which they performed the main theme, and the first ever performance of “Polar Suite,” a three-part piece composed by SU professor Douglas Quin.

“This is very exciting because it allows our worlds to come together,” Quin said. “I've always been a fan of Kronos.”

The ensemble has been playing since 1973. Over nearly four decades they’ve suffered a few changes in their membership, which ultimately resulted in the current formation of David Harrington (violin), John Sherba (violin), Hank Dutt (viola) and Jeffrey Zeigler (cello).

“I've always enjoyed their music, but I've also enjoyed is their sense of adventure,” said Quin. “They are always looking for what a string quartet can become.”

Kronos Quartet has experimented many styles of music throughout their career. Their repertoire includes classic pieces from 20th-century masters like Bartók and Webern as well as music by Jimmi Hendrix and multimedia performer Meredith Monk.

The piece Quin composed for Kronos takes is highly experimental. Quin created the song to be played with a new technology: the K-Bow.

The K-Bow is a Bluetooth-sensor bow created by Keith McMillen. A string player uses this bow as they would a traditional bow, but it allows them to create and control new sounds as they play.

 “The violin can sound like a seal, it can sound like ice breaking, it can sound like sounds from outer space,” said Quin.

The K-Bow is also capable of integrating sounds, not only changing them. The sound of the violin, therefore, can be heard along with that of a seal or breaking ice.

For Quin, composing a piece for Kronos using this new technology was no easy task.

“It's very complicated but it's also very beautiful,” he said. “It allows an audience to experience a string quartet as something completely new.”

When composing “Polar Suite,” Quin took inspiration from his personal life. He has lived in Iceland, Sweden, Canada and Scotland, and he’s visited Alaska, Greenland and Antarctica.

“I've spent a lot of time making recordings of what these places sound like,” he said. “They have an identity, lots of life; it isn't just snow and nothing else, and that's the inspiration for me.”

Kronos Quartet will also be performing pieces from other composers arranged for them by composers such as Steve Reich, Nicole Lizée, Michael Gordon, and Aleksandra Vrebalov.

The concert is free and will take place at the Setnor Auditorium on Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. Free parking will be available at the Irving Garage.

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