The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts
Kronos Quartet

Date and Venue 19 October 2013, 8pm | Chan Shun Concert Hall, UBC

Featured Performers David Harrington, violin; John Sherba, violin; Hank Dutt, viola; Sunny Yang, cello


Reviewer Ed Farolan


40 years. That's a pretty long time for this San Francisco string quartet (except for Sunny Yang) to be together. The concert celebrated not only the Grammy award-winning ensemble’s 40 years, but also the 50th year that the Faculty of Arts separated from the Faculty of Sciences at UBC.

The celebration called for the world premiere of American composer Philip Glass’s String Quartet No. 6, which was commissioned by the Chan Centre and other performing arts institutions in Maryland, Las Vegas and elsewhere. The sold-out concert featured selections from Kronos’ critically acclaimed 2009 album Floodplain, and in this particular concert, the ensemble performed John Oswald's Spectre, Geeshie Wiley's (arr. Jacob Garchik)  Last Kind Words, Alter Yechiel Karnio's Sim Sholom (arr. Judith Berkson)ay, Nicole Lizée's Hymnals (Canadian premiere), Tanburi Cemil Bey's Evic Taksim (arr. Stephen Prutsman) , Traditional (arr. Jacob Garchik) Lullaby, and Aleksandra Vrebalov …hold me, neighbor, in this storm…

I liked Glass's composition. It had hues of the string quartets of the classic greats Bach. Beethoven and Mozart. The other composers were more experimental. In Lizee's Hymnals, for example, there was what sounded like a motorcycle in the background. The quartet which is eclectic in their style combines classical with experimental, and in Lizee's work, the background motorcycle sounds accompanied the quartet.

So was the case in the performance of Oswald's Spectre, where lights and thunder and what sounded lke a jet plane hovering above accompanied the four who, I believe, were not actually playing, but were miming movements as though actually playing when in fact, it was a recording.

In the 1970s, together with the hippy movement and the anti-war protests, music started going experimental, and this was when the "new age" or "new wave" in music, anti-classical and experimental, began to fluorish. And in this mood, groups like Kronos started to bud. But apparently, this is one group, if not the only one, that stood the test of time.

© 2013 Ed Farolan