Last June the Kronos Quartet, under the auspices of the Kronos Performing Arts Association (KPAA), celebrated the 80th birthday of composer Terry Riley with a weekend festival of three concerts. This coming February, KPAA has arranged a similar event in what is hoped will become an annual hometown music festival hosted by the Kronos Quartet. The title of next year’s festival will be Kronos Festival 2016: Explorer Series.
The title reflects two of the major influences on how Kronos Quartet has built its repertoire: commissioning new works from currently active composers and world music. In seven concerts given over the course of four days, Kronos will perform more than a dozen works, including four world premieres, two United States premieres, four West Coast premieres, and two San Francisco premieres. Performances will feature the current Kronos artist-in-residence, pipa player Wu Man. [update added 1/20, 1:30 p.m.: Due to a recetn wrist injury, Wu Man will be unable to perform at the concerts on February 4 and 6; but she will still attend the festival as a guest of honor.]
There will also be guest performers from Europe, Africa, and Asia. These will include David Coulter (born in the United Kingdom), Fodé Lassana Diabaté (Mali), Ritva Koistinen (Finland), Mariana Sadovska (born in Ukraine), and Vân-Ánh Võ (Vietnam), whose latest performance art piece will be performed at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts next month. Local performers will include the San Francisco Girls Chorus and musicians from the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts in the performance of KPAA-commissioned works.
The festival will run from Thursday, February 4, through Sunday, February 7. The venue will be the SFJAZZ Center. Three intimate afternoon concerts will be held on Saturday in the Joe Henderson Lab. All other performances will take place in the Robert N. Miner Auditorium. A brief summary of the seven events is as follows:
Thursday, February 4, 7:30 p.m.: Opening night will feature the West Coast premiere of Sadovska’s Chernobyl! The Harvest. There will also be a world premiere of music by Azerbaijani composer Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, commissioned under Kronos’ Fifty for the Future project. Wu Man will join Kronos for the Bay Area premiere of her Four Chinese Paintings, written for the same project. [update added 1/20, 1:30 p.m.: Kronos will perform only excerpts from this composition; and they will add Astor Piazzolla’s “Four for Tango” to the program.] There will also be two arrangements, one by Osvaldo Golijov of the Mexican tune “El Sinaloense” and the other Kronos’ own arrangement of a raga by Indian violinist N. Rajam.
Friday, February 5, 7:30 p.m.: The title of this program will be Only Sound Remains, which is also the title of a recent composition by Sahba Aminikia. The San Francisco Girls Chorus will join Kronos for the West Coast premiere of this piece. Also receiving its West Coast premiere will be Aleksandra Vrebalov’s “Bubble.” The program will also feature the world premiere of a quintet for pipa and string quartet, composed by Wu Man, who will join Kronos for the performance. In a similar vein Koistinen will join Kronos on kantele for the United States premiere of Karin Rehnqvist’s “All Those Strings!” There will also be the world premiere of “Lost Wax,” an homage to Béla Bartók by Albert Behar, as well as the retrospective “The Golden Age of the Radiophonic Workshop [Fibre-Optic Flows]” by Nicole Lizée. The program will also include arrangements by Michael Riesman of music by Philip Glass and Ravi Shankar, as well as his own compositions.
Saturday, February 6, 2 p.m.: The first afternoon concert will feature two solo sets by Koistinen on kantele and Diabaté on balafon, respectively.
Saturday, February 6, 3:30 p.m.: This will also be a two-set program. Võ will give her solo on the Vietnamese đàn Tranh. She will be followed by Coulter, a multi-instrumentalist, who will be playing musical saw on this occasion.
Saturday, February 6, 5 p.m.: The final concert will be performed entirely by Sadovska. She is both a vocalist and an Indian harmonium player. For part of her set she will be joined by the Kitka vocal ensemble.
Saturday, February 6, 7:30 p.m.: The title of this concert will be A Thousand Thoughts. Diabaté will return with his balafon to join Kronos in the United States premiere performance of his “Sunjata’s Time,” another piece written for the Fifty for the Future project. Kronos will also perform “One Hundred Goodbyes,” composed by Donnacha Dennehy for the upcoming centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising, mounted by Irish republicans to end British rule in Ireland. The concert will also feature a set of solos performed by Wu Man. [update added 1/20, 1:30 p.m.: Wu Man will be replaced by a special guest appearance by the Homayun Sakhi Trio. Sakhi leads this group on Afgan rubâb. The other members are Salar Nader in tabla and Abbos Kosimov on doyra. They will play Sakhi’s “Rangin Kaman” (rainbow), commissioned by Kronos in 2008.]
Sunday, February 7, 11 a.m.: The final concert will be a family-friendly celebration of the Lunar New Year entitled Around the World with Kronos and Friends. Guest performers will include Wu Man, Võ, Coulter, and Diabaté. The program will include works commissioned by Kronos and arrangements of traditional music from musical cultures “around the world.”
All events will take place at the SFJAZZ Center, located at 201 Franklin Street on the northwest corner of Fell Street. Tickets are being sold by SFJAZZ on an event-by-event basis, meaning that there is no special rate for attending the entire series. Ticket prices for each of the evening concerts are $25, $45, and $65. General admission tickets for the afternoon concerts in the Joe Henderson Lab are $15. Tickets for the concluding Family Concert will all be $20 for general admission. Tickets for all events may be purchased online by following hyperlinks on the SFJAZZ Events Calendar Web page.