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Kronos Quartet: Kronos at 40 - Lincoln Center Out of Doors, New York

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Wednesday, Aug 7, 2013
A number of premieres, a number of other artists, guests and collaborators and the NY performance debut of cellist Sunny Jungin Yang were all part of the free shows given by the Kronos Quartet as part of their 40th anniversary celebration at Lincoln Center.

As described by the NY Times, “Kronos at 40 begins with the world premiere of “Ritual Cyclical,” a dance piece by Mark Dendy Dance & Theater Projects and an Afrobeat and Afro-futurist program in which the Kronos will join a roster that includes Red Hot + Fela Live, Tony Allen, Superhuman Happiness and members of several indie-rock bands. Other Kronos performances include programs of works written or arranged for the ensemble by Omar Souleyman, Ram Narayan and Van-Anh Vanessa Vo; Bryce Dessner, Clint Mansell and Dan Deacon among others; and the quartet will also appear on the same programs with My Brightest Diamond and Emily Wells; and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus.” PopMatters was not there for the opening night Fela events or the drumpet-making activities on Saturday, but we were able to make it for the night that Emily Wells and My Brightest Diamond performed after the US premiere of Chernobyl. The Harvest from the Kronos Quartet with Mariana Sadovska accompanying them and the following evening when the Quartet invited Vân-Ánh Vanessa Võ and Magda Giannikou to accompany them.
  
On Thursday night, Kronos were the openers for Emily Wells and MBD. With Sadovska in the center on her harmonium, the Quartet performed the four part Chernobyl cycle, whose sections, when translated,  mean, The Road, The Harvest, Lamentation and Paradise. The cycle is a based on “archaic ceremonial music of Ukraine with contemporary sound scales” and was a riveting immersion into the power of Sadovska’s voice.


The same couldn’t be said of the next singer, Emily Wells who was very underwhelming. As Lucid Culture put it, “it was a cruel if probably unintentional stroke of fate that stuck Wells, a competent singer, between two brilliant ones.” Fortunately, Wells’ set did improve with the last three songs, including one from the soundtrack to Stoker, resulting in many people asking about the second to last song of hers at the merchandise tent. She built her music with loops mostly, but I had thought she was primarily a violinist and


My Brightest Diamond, led by Shara Worden, was just as outstanding as I had expected (having seen her before) and Worden was humbly gracious to be playing at Lincoln Center, a dream for the ‘girl from the country’. Her set included many songs off her last album All Things Will Unwind including “High Low Middle” and “Be Brave” as well as a lot of props to add to the theatrics. Worden donned a dunce/wizard’s cap, she wore yellow rubber gloves, she waved a (cutout of a) diamond about and she even put on her finest moustache to entertain the audience.


On Friday, Kronos Quartet held up the bandshell on their own as they explored music from different regions of the world, with the aid of Gianikou and Võ (unfortunately I didn’t see the Irish traditional music performed by The Gloaming who opened). Kronos took the audience on a journey from the Middle East to South East Asia back into South Asia and then to the Mediterranean. The first segment began with a version of Omar Souleyman’s “La Sidounak Sayyada” and included Ramallah Underground’s “Tashweesh” RaVõ is a master of Vietnamese instruments, including the dan tranh and the dan bau, which she worked into the performances of selections from All Clear and the NY debut of “Queen of the Night”. Later, Giannokou (of the band Banda Magda), who had performed a separate show for Lincoln Center earlier, joined Kronos for “Strophe in Antistrophe”, another premiere, and embraced the audience with the warmth of her custom-made laterna.


Visit PopMatters’ Facebook page to see a larger gallery of images of the Kronos Quartet celebrating 40!


Mariana Sadovska


Kronos Quartet


Kronos Quartet w/ Mariana Sadovska


Kronos Quartet w/ Mariana Sadovska


Emily Wells


Emily Wells


My Brightest Diamond


My Brightest Diamond

My Brightest Diamond


My Brightest Diamond

My Brightest Diamond


My Brightest Diamond

My Brightest Diamond


Kronos Quartet

Kronos Quartet


Kronos Quartet

Kronos Quartet


Kronos Quartet

Kronos Quartet


Kronos Quartet

Kronos Quartet w/  Vân-Ánh Vanessa Võ


Kronos Quartet

Kronos Quartet w/  Vân-Ánh Vanessa Võ


***


The Kronos at 40 celebration continues in September with shows in Bogotá, Colombia before returning to the States’ West Coast (Seattle and LA) for two more shows this year. Information on the celebration can be found at the band’s site.

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