Over the past 30 years the Kronos Quartet has established itself as one of the premier ensembles dedicated to modern music. At first the members played works by familiar composers such as Bartok, Berg, and Ives, along with more contemporary fare by, among others, Penderecki, Crumb, and Feldman. But they were also early proponents of minimalism, a style that now dominates their repertoire. These days they play almost exclusively music they've commissioned, resulting in more than 450 new works--a stunning figure, though the Arditti Quartet, which also plays mostly the work of living composers, has commissioned a similar number. Favoring composers who incorporate non-Western styles, the Kronos seems to be going less for works that are musically challenging and more for ones that are highly accessible, at times even pop flavored. At Ravinia they'll perform the world premiere of Black Woman Rising by Kevin Volans, who was born in South Africa and lives in Ireland and whose music contains elements of both cultures. They'll also play Camposanto by Felipe Perez Santiago, which begins with a prerecorded Kronos section, followed by an electronic rhythm track, then the live performance. The composer on this program whose influences seem the most wide-ranging is Osvaldo Golijov; his writing incorporates tango, klezmer, and jazz, and his Tenebrae, originally scored for clarinet, soprano, and string quartet, will be performed in a version rewritten for string quartet alone. Also on the program are three movements from How It Happens by Scott Johnson, whose pieces often include a looped tape of a short spoken sentence or sentence fragment. $40, $25, $10. Thursday, June 17, 8 PM, Martin Theatre, Ravinia Festival, Green Bay and Lake Cook Rds., Highland Park; 847-266-5100.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jay Blakesberg.