Rooted in a genre known more for Beethoven than the Beatles, the San Francisco-based musicians have chased a singular artistic vision and commissioned more than 950 works.
The Grammy Award-winning group will perform at Santa Fe’s Lensic Performing Arts Center on Saturday, April 21.
True to Kronos’ adventurous spirit, the program ranges from the music of Philip Glass to Rhiannon Giddens.
“What Kronos has been doing is to try to extend the range of the string quartet as an art form;” Kronos founder and violinist David Harrington said, “to bring in music and collaborators from every corner of the musical world to give us and our audience a sense of how vast it is.”
Their Santa Fe concert spans the Inuit throat singing of Tanya Tagaq, the Egyptian dance music of Islam Chipsy, Raven Chacon’s “The Journey of the Horizontal People” and Laurie Anderson’s “Flow.”
The pieces are part of Kronos’ “Fifty for the Future” project collecting repertoire to make available online for free.
“This will be the largest number of these in one concert,” Harrington said.
Stacy Garrop’s “Glorious Mahalia” combines the voices of Mahalia Jackson and her friend, the late Chicago radio host Studs Terkel in a musical suite.
“They’re probably the two people most responsible for bringing down the color line on radio,” Harrington said. “Part of the piece is them talking about life in this country.
“There’s a few moments of perfection,” he added. “Laurie Anderson’s piece and then ‘Strange Fruit’ and then Mahalia Jackson sings ‘Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.'”