Kronos Quartet

Kronos Quartet

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Kronos Quartet
Origin San Francisco, California, United States
Genres Contemporary classical
Occupations Chamber ensemble
Years active 1973-present
Labels Nonesuch/Elektra Records
David Harrington, violin
John Sherba, violin
Hank Dutt, viola
Jeffrey Zeigler, cello
Former members
Jim Shallenberger (original member, 1973-75), violin
Roy Lewis (1975-76), violin
Tim Killian (original member, 1973-76), viola
Walter Gray (original member, 1973-78), cello
Joan Jeanrenaud, cello (1978-99)
Jennifer Culp, cello (1999-2005)

Kronos Quartet is a string quartet founded by violinist David Harrington in 1973 in Seattle, Washington. Since 1978, the quartet has been based in San Francisco, California. The longest-running combination of performers (from 1978 to 1999) had Harrington and John Sherba on violin, Hank Dutt on viola, and Joan Jeanrenaud on cello. In 1999, Joan Jeanrenaud left Kronos because she was "eager for something new";[1] she was replaced by Jennifer Culp[2] who, in turn, left in 2005 and was replaced by Jeffrey Zeigler. With almost forty studio albums to their credit and having performed worldwide, they were called "probably the most famous 'new music' group in the world"[3] and were praised in philosophical studies of music for the inclusiveness of their repertoire.[4]

By the time the quartet celebrated their twenty-fifth anniversary, in 1999, they had a repertoire of over 600 works, which included 400 string quartets written for them, more than 3,000 performances, seven first-prize ASCAP awards, Edison Awards in classical and popular music, and had sold more than 1.5 million records.[5]

New music

Kronos specializes in new music and has a long history of commissioning new works. Over 600 works have been created for the Kronos Quartet. They have worked with many minimalist composers including Arvo Pärt, Henryk Górecki, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Roberto Carnevale, Terry Riley, and Kevin Volans; collaborators hail from a diversity of countries--Kaija Saariaho from Finland, Pteris Vasks from Latvia, Franghiz Ali-Zadeh from Azerbaijan, Roberto Paci Dalò from Italy, and Osvaldo Golijov from Argentina. Some of Kronos' string-quartet arrangements were published in 2007.[6]

Under 30 Project

When Kronos turned 30, in 2003, they decided on a commissioning process for composers under the age of 30, in the hope of bringing some of the talented young composers to light. The program is now run in cooperation with Carnegie Hall, Cal Performances at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Montalvo Arts Center. The first recipient was Alexandra du Bois (at the time a student at Indiana University, later a Juilliard School graduate),[7] followed by Felipe Perez Santiago (born in Mexico in 1973),[8] and Dan Visconti (born in Illinois in 1982);[9] in 2007, Israeli composer Aviya Kopelman became the fourth.[10]

Diverse genres

"I've always wanted the string quartet to be vital, and energetic, and alive, and cool, and not afraid to kick ass and be absolutely beautiful and ugly if it has to be. But it has to be expressive of life. To tell the story with grace and humor and depth. And to tell the whole story, if possible."
    David Harrington[11]


Kronos covers a very broad range of musical genres: Mexican folk, experimental, pre-classical early music, movie soundtracks (Requiem for a Dream, Heat, The Fountain), jazz and tango. Kronos has also recorded adaptations of Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze", Sigur Rós's "Flugufrelsarinn", Television's "Marquee Moon", and Raymond Scott's "Dinner Music for a Pack of Hungry Cannibals".

Kronos has also worked with a variety of global musicians, including Bollywood playback singer Asha Bhosle;[12] Mexican-American painter Gronk; American soprano Dawn Upshaw; jazz composer/performer Pat Metheny; Mexican rockers Café Tacuba; Azerbaijani mugam singer Alim Qasimov; and the Romanian gypsy band Taraf de Haidouks among others.

Kronos has performed live with the late poet Allen Ginsberg, Astor Piazzolla, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Tom Waits, David Bowie, and Björk, and has appeared on recordings with such diverse artists as the Dave Matthews Band, Nelly Furtado, Rokia Traore, Joan Armatrading, Brazilian electronica artist Amon Tobin, Texas yodeler Don Walser, Faith No More, Tiger Lillies and David Grisman.

The quartet also performed on the 1998 Dave Matthews Band album Before These Crowded Streets on the tracks Halloween and The Stone. They also appeared on the Nine Inch Nails remix album, Year Zero Remixed, released November 20, 2007, doing a rendition of the track Another Version of the Truth. They also performed Lee Brooks' score for the short film 2081 (film), based on the Kurt Vonnegut short story "Harrison Bergeron."

In 2009, the quartet contributed an acoustic version of Blind Willie Johnson's "Dark Was the Night" for the AIDS benefit album Dark Was the Night produced by the Red Hot Organization.

Awards and recognition

Le Diapason d'Or de Mai
  • 1997 Osvaldo Golijov's The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind
Rolf Schock Prize
  • 1999 Royal Swedish Academy of Music for Musical Arts in Music
Musical America
  • 2003 Musicians of the Year[13]
Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance
National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences
  • 2005 The Recording Academy President's Merit Award


Main article: Kronos Quartet discography

Published music

  • (2007) Kronos Collection, Vol. 1, Boosey and Hawkes.


  • 1995 - Musical Outsiders: An American Legacy - Harry Partch, Lou Harrison, and Terry Riley. Directed by Michael Blackwood.
  • 2000 - Requiem for a Dream Soundtrack by Clint Mansell featuring Kronos Quartet.


  1. Templeton, David (Mar 2004). "Flight of Fancy: The sky is the limit for ex-Kronos cellist Joan Jeanrenaud". Strings 18 (7).
  2. (Nov/Dec 1999) "News and Notes: People". Strings 14 (4).
  3. McCalla, James (2003). Twentieth-century Chamber Music: Routledge Studies in Musical Genres, Routledge.
  4. Bruce Ellis, Benson (2003). The improvisation of musical dialogue: a phenomenology of music, Cambridge University Press.
  5. Richardson, Derk (Jan 1999). "Portrait of a Quartet: The Kronos reaps the rewards of 25 years of not fitting the mold". Strings 13 (5): 4957.
  6. Silberman, Daryl (Oct 2007). "First Edition: Kronos finally publishes its highly coveted string-quartet arrangements". Strings 22 (3).
  7. Greg, Cahill (Jan 2003). "Kronos@30". Strings 17 (5).
  8. Sisario, Ben, Arts Briefing, New York Times, 2003-08-19. URL accessed on 2009-01-13.
  9. Martini, Tiffany (June/July 2006). "Sonic Youth: Kronos Quartet gears up for new round of composition contest". Strings 21 (1).
  10. Aviya Kopelman Commissioned Through Kronos: Under 30 Project, MusicalAmerica, 2007-03-15. URL accessed on 2009-01-12.
  11. Yaple, Carol. Four Hundred Candles: The Creation of a Repertoire. Kronos Quartet. Retrieved on March 30, 2010.
  12. Kettle, David (December 2005). "Kronos Quartet/Asha Boshle (singer)". The Strad 116 (1388).
  13. Mattison, Ben (2002-12-13). Kronos Quartet Named Musical America's Musicians of the Year for 2003. Andante. Retrieved on 2009-01-12.

External links

  • Kronos Quartet Official website
  • Kronos Quartet at All Music Guide
  • David Harrington of Kronos talks to Karishmeh for OFFBEAT, Dublin City FM. Feature Special on Kronos Quartet
  • Interview with founding Kronos member David Harrington
This page was last modified 23.09.2010 19:21:03

This article uses material from the article Kronos Quartet from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and it is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.