Kronos Quartet has always been the string quartet as enjoyable to watch as they are to listen to. Their cool clothes and hip hairstyles once seemed revolutionary, and garnered as much attention from critics as their completely original approach to contemporary classical music.
Last night's free concert at Lincoln Center Out of Doors in Damrosch Park bandshell continued their tradition of pushing musical boundaries, but their fashion-forward role was usurped by their collaborators, Gamelan Galak Tika, collectively in wine and gold colored Balinese robes and headdresses.
This world premier piece, which closed last night's show, is called "Super Collider", by Christine Southworth, who is also the general manager of Gamelan Galak Tika.
Two more vids from this piece, and more, after the jump
I've been lucky enough to catch Kronos many times over the years, and they have always taken me somewhere new. Whether you love or hate what you hear and see here, the diversity of sounds, composers and musicians Kronos has explored have provide us with nearly 40 years of exciting, innovative and unforgettable music.
If by some small chance you're not familiar with them, I recommend:
Salome Dances for Peace, composed by Terry Riley. Good Medicine, which closes this two-disc set, is still one of my favorite pieces of music ever, in any genre.
Pieces of Africa, possibly their most accessible CD, you've probably heard some of this before, especially "Tilliboyo" (Sunset) by Foday Musa Suso, a short but beautiful piece where their instrument strings are mostly plucked rather than stroked with a bow. But my favorite here is the soothing, slow, steady, minimalist flow of "Escalay" (Water wheel) by Hamza el Din. Play this with headphones when stressed, and you will completely relax.
Early Music, filled with great stuff, composed over centuries (even the last one) by composers famous and obscure. Try this track: Uleg-Khem (Trad. Tuvan arr. Steve Mackey), where the Tuvan throat singers add vocal that is at once ancient and ultra-contemporary. Wish I knew the words so I could sing along.