Friday, July 01, 2005

Kronos Quartet

This afternoon, we had a discussion with David Harrington, founder and leader of the Kronos Quartet. He's an incredibly open and generous man. Two notable quotes:
"Each note we get to play is a world of opportunity," and he recounted a story of performing "Howl" at Carnegie Hall with Allen Ginsberg: before the show Ginsberg told him, "I can't wait to say 'cocksucker' in Carnegie Hall." (they weren't invited back for over ten years).

We heard the Kronos concert tonight. Honestly, I didn't like most of the music, but the playing was great. They did a transcription of Hendrix's version of The Star Spangled Banner as their encore, but the lighting was problematic. It's a great transcription, complete with distorted wailing and screeching feedback. Unfortunately, the lights were flashing in all different colors – like a send-up of a rock show. I felt like that made the piece read as a kind of joke. I wish they had brought the house lights up, asked everyone to rise, and then played the national anthem in this transformed way. I think that would have been so powerful people would have been in tears. I'm curious why they stage it like they do? Maybe they have to water it down some to not cause a riot?

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