Barbican celebrates string quartets

kronos quartet

In April and May, the Barbican celebrates the 40th anniversaries of two of the most adventurous string quartets of our time. The Arditti Quartet: 40 Years Young (26 April) explores the ensemble’s four decades of pushing the boundaries of new music and comprises three sessions in one day, featuring world premieres of works by Harrison Birtwistle, Brice Pauset, James Clarke and Hilda Paredes.

On 13 May, Kronos Quartet’s 40th anniversary is celebrated with commissioned works by favourite composers and collaborators from throughout Kronos’s history, including UK premieres by Philip Glass, Terry Riley and Mariana Sadovska, plus a world premiere by Bryce Dessner. Both ensembles share a reputation for pioneering new music and developing new audiences and these performances highlight two contrasting traditions from across both sides of the Atlantic.

The multi-award-winning Arditti Quartet will perform three concerts in one day on 26 April at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama’s Milton Court Concert Hall. Compered by Tom Service, this major event celebrating 40 years of the Arditti Quartet will include performances of classic works commissioned by the ensemble and new works written for the occasion, intermingled with informal insights and conversation. Session One begins at 11am with works including Jonathan Harvey’s String Quartet No 1, the world premiere of new work by Brice Pauset, Elliott Carter’s String Quartet No 5, György Kurtág’s Aus der Ferne III & V and Helmut Lachenmann’s Grido. Following on at 3pm, Session Two will feature the world premiere of new work by James Clarke and Hilda Paredes, Hector Parra’s Leaves of Reality, Georg Friedrich Haas’ String Quartet No 2 and Ligeti’s String Quartet No 2. Session 3, the final concert of the day (7.30pm) will include the world premiere of new work by Harrison Birtwistle and Brian Ferneyhough, Wolfgang Rihm’s Fetzen I & II, Toshio Hosokawa’s Silent Flowers, Pascal Dusapin’s String Quartet No 5 and Iannis Xenakis’ Tetras.

On 13 May, San Francisco’s Grammy Award-winning Kronos Quartet continues its tradition of storied Barbican appearances in this one-of-a-kind 40th-anniversary celebration in the Barbican Hall. The evening features a host of new music by Philip Glass, Terry Riley, Bryce Dessner and Mariana Sadovska, plus the UK premiere of Kronos at 40, a film by Sam Green.

The performance begins with the UK premiere of Terry Riley’s The Serquent Risadome. Based on a short futuristic tale written by Riley called The Autodaydreamographical Anteriopod, constructed from mostly made-up words, the piece cements a three-decade-long relationship between the composer and Kronos. This is followed by the world premiere of 40 Canons, a piece for quartet and electric guitar by Bryce Dessner (guitarist of American indie rock band, The National) who joins Kronos on stage. Dessner previously collaborated with Kronos Quartet at the Barbican as part of Steve Reich’s 75th birthday celebrations in 2011 and recently released the album Aheym, comprised of works written by Dessner for Kronos. Dessner comments, ‘Kronos have changed the landscape for young composers and ensembles in some of the same ways that R.E.M. did for alternative or indie bands in the 80s and 90s – opening up new territories.’

The first half of the concert concludes with the UK premiere of Chernobyl. The Harvest by Ukrainian singer, actress and composer Mariana Sadovska, who also performs alongside Kronos. The work takes the nuclear catastrophe in Chernobyl as its starting point and combines the ancient ceremonial music of northern Ukraine with contemporary sound scales in a composition for one voice and string quartet.

The second part of the evening showcases the UK premiere of String Quartet No.6 by Philip Glass. Glass describes the work as, ‘the most recent result of a long and ripening friendship between myself and the Kronos Quartet’. He writes, ‘For listeners familiar with Symphonies No. 7 through No. 10 or Etudes for Piano 15 through 20, this will be heard as a continuation of music developed in the last five years or so.’

The Kronos Quartet will also feature in the Barbican’s marathon weekend Explorations: The Sound of Nonesuch Records which takes place on 17-18 May. Further information can be found here. Nonesuch, the Quartet’s longtime label, celebrates the global range of the ensemble’s repertoire with two releases this spring: the Kronos Explorer Series five-CD box set and a new album, A Thousand Thoughts, both of which will be available on April 21.


The Arditti Quartet: 40 Years Young

A celebration of the Arditti Quartet and its 40 years of breaking the boundaries of new music

Session 1

26 April 2014 / 11:00 / Milton Court Concert Hall

Jonathan Harvey String Quartet No 1
Brice Pauset New work (world premiere)
Elliott Carter String Quartet No 5
György Kurtág Aus der Ferne III & V
Helmut Lachenmann Grido

Session 2

26 April 2014 / 15:00 / Milton Court Concert Hall

James Clarke New work (world premiere)
Hector Parra Leaves of Reality
Hilda Paredes New work (world premiere)
Georg Friedrich Haas String Quartet No 2
György Ligeti String Quartet No 2

Session 3

26 April 2014 / 19:30 / Milton Court Concert Hall

Wolfgang Rihm Fetzen I & II
Toshio Hosokawa Silent Flowers
Brian Ferneyhough String Quartet No 3
Harrison Birtwistle New work (world premiere)
Pascal Dusapin String Quartet No 5
Iannis Xenakis Tetras

Kronos at 40

A one-of-a-kind 40th-anniversary celebration featuring new music by Philip Glass, Bryce Dessner, Terry Riley and Mariana Sadovska

13 May 2014 / 20:00 / Barbican Hall

“Kronos at 40”  (UK premiere)

a film by Sam Green

Terry Riley The Serquent Risadome (UK premiere)

Bryce Dessner 40 Canons (world premiere)

with special guest Bryce Dessner, guitar

Mariana Sadovska Chernobyl. The Harvest (UK premiere)

I.  Doroha. Дорога (The Road)

II. Zhnyva. Жнива (The Harvest)

III. Platch. Плач (Lamentation)

IV. Rai. Рай (Paradise)

with special guest Mariana Sadovska, voice, harmonium

Philip Glass String Quartet No. 6 (UK premiere)

Speak Your Mind