Conversation Saturday with Kronos Quartet Founder David Harrington

Above: The Kronos Quartet performs “Alap” from Ram Narayan’s Raga Mishra Bhairavi.

Some people follow style, other people create it.

In the world of classical music, it’s rare for an artist or ensemble to occupy the cutting edge – that serendipity where style prefigures taste – for as long as 40 years. However, that’s exactly what the Kronos Quartet has done since its founding in 1973.

Join me Saturday evening at 7 pm in the Southern Theatre as I interview Kronos Quartet founder and first violinist David Harrington about his four decades of staying ahead of the curve and on the pulse of society as leader of the world’s most forward-looking string quartet.

The Kronos Quartet’s performance of an eclectic program of music by Bryce Dessner, Kim Sinh, Oman Souleyman, Laurie Anderson, Richard Wagner, Steve Reich, Missy Mazzoli, Ram Narayan and Nicole Lizée begins at 8 pm, presented by Chamber Music Columbus.

As much as the Kronos Quartet has established itself in the avant-garde, the program the quartet will perform Saturday looks backwards as much as it looks forward. American composer Dessner’s Aheym (“Homeward”) transforms family memories into musical narrative, and Jacob Garchik’s arrangements for the Kronos Quartet of traditional Greek and Vietnamese music and Indian sarangi artist Narayan’s Raga Mishra Bhairavi meld past with future.

These works rub shoulders with Aleksandra Vrebalov’s string quartet arrangement of the Prelude and Liebestod from Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, now-familiar works originally at the cutting edge of musical style.

Saturday’s concert will also bring a performance of Reich’s bone-chilling WTC 9/11 for string quartet and the recorded voices of the air traffic controllers, first responders, and survivors of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Works by Mazzoli and Nicole Lizée will represent the younger generation of North American composers.

To whet your appetite for my conversation with David Harrington, here’s a bit of what he had to say about WTC 9/11 on the eve of the Kronos Quartet’s recording sessions for the work:

I hope to see you Saturday at the Southern Theatre!

The Kronos Quartet will perform Ram Narayan’s Raga Mishra Bhairavi and other works Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Southern Theatre. Pre-concert interview with Kronos Quartet founder David Harrington at 7 p.m. More information at cmcolumbus.org.

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