CONTACT: WINSTON BARCLAY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0073; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Sept. 13, 2000
EDITORS: This is one in a series of stories that revisit the commissioned
works that were part of the 1999-2000 Millennium Festival at the University
of Iowa Hancher Auditorium. We will document how the works have developed
or changed, where they have been performed, what the critics have said, and
in some cases how the artists themselves gauge the works.
ONE YEAR AFTER THE MILLENNIUM (FESTIVAL)
Hancher-commissioned compositions featured on CD
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Kronos Quartet has become a regular at the University
of Iowa Hancher Auditorium, presenting numerous world premieres and commissioned
works, so it was only natural that when Hancher organized a Millennium Festival
for the 1999-2000 season, Kronos would play a major role.
Kronos -- the American ensemble that Billboard magazine calls "the
most important chamber group of the 20th century," which not only "revolutionized
chamber performance, but helped to change the face of contemporary music"
-- presented the first of its two Hancher Millennium Festival concerts on
Sept. 15, 1999. Titled "Traveling Music," the concert reflected
ever-shrinking world of the new millennium, including music from India, Argentina,
Yugoslavia, the United States, Korea, Iran, Azerbaijan and Mexico, featuring
guest performances by American klezmer clarinetist David Krakauer and Indian
tabla drummer Zakir Hussain.
Included in the concert were three world premieres and five Hancher commissions
-- "Responso" by Argentine composer Anibal Troilo, "Pannonia
Boundless" by Yugoslavian composer Aleksandra Vrebalov, American composer
Alicia Svigals "Kale Baveynen II," "Song of the Beggars"
by Korean composer Hyo-shin Na and "Gallop of a Thousand Horses"
by Iranian composer Kayhan Kalhor.
The world-music concert recalled the occasion several seasons before when
Hancher enabled Kronos to try out the concept of an African-theme concert.
The success of that concert led to the "Pieces of Africa" CD, which
became the top-selling string quartet recording of all time, and the first
recording ever to simultaneously top the classical and world music charts.
Kronos had performed the "Traveling Music" concept before they
arrived in Iowa, but Hanchers commissioning of five compositions was
a crucial component of the concepts fruition. And once again, Hanchers
contribution led to a chart-topping CD.
Kronos "Caravan," featuring three of the Hancher-commissioned
compositions, was released in the spring of 2000 and immediately jumped into
the top 10 in classical sales, a position it maintained for 14 weeks.
The CD, a probable Grammy Award nominee, has also been a hit with most critics.
Larry Kelp wrote in San Franciscos East Bay Express, " San Franciscos
innovative string quartet always comes up with intriguing concept CDs of new
music, but Kronos Caravan takes a giant step beyond the expected
with a world music tour-de-force that is at once immediately listenable and
also deeply probing. Teeming with exotic and ecstatic rhythms, virtuoso interplay,
and haunting melodies, this may be the years best world-and-classical
A Billboard magazine review commented, "After a quarter of a century,
the Kronos Quartet continues to amaze with its conceptual acuity and cultural
breadth. . . Caravan could prove to be not only one of the most
popular Kronos albums but also one of the quartets best."
The London newspaper the Independent recommended the CD as "a rich,
deep and impressively variegated album, beautifully played by both Kronos
and their guests."
Even most critics with reservations found good things to say. Gregs
Music Reviews found problems but still concluded that Kronos "must be
given commendation for continuing its relentless pursuit in creating a kind
of global art. By forcing the western art music tradition to explore times
and timbres and tradition the establishment refuses to acknowledge, it insures
that classical music has a direction"
In addition to the release of "Caravan," Kronos has taken Hanchers
"Traveling Music" commissions around the globe, including performances
for audiences totaling more than 20,000 in the United States, Canada, France,
the Netherlands, the Canary Islands, Germany, Scotland, England, Israel, Italy,
Switzerland, Spain, Austria and Korea.
Hancher director Wallace Chappell comments, "Kronos is great to work
with. They communicate beautifully, they regularly put us directly in touch
with the composers, they consult with us every step of the way, and they credit
us very faithfully as the works travel around their remarkable global concert
circuit. Its been a deeply satisfying relationship over the years, and
the artistic and market success of Caravan adds to that satisfaction,
because our admittedly ambitious aim is to contribute positively to the artistic
life of the nation and the world."
The Millennium Festival commissions for "Traveling Music" were
supported by Procter & Gamble and the National Endowment for the Arts.
The Hancher Millennium Festival was the most extensive and ambitious performing-arts
millennium celebration in the United States. The season-spanning festival
featured more than 20 major commissions in music, theater and dance. In addition
to the "Traveling Music" compositions, new works were presented
by theater visionary Robert Lepage; choreographers Twyla Tharp, Paul Taylor,
UI alumnus Lar Lubovitch, Susan Marshall, Bill T. Jones, Ushio Amagatsu and
Jawole Willa Jo Zollar; and composers including Richard Danielpour, Michael
Daugherty, Paul Schoenfield and UI alumnus David Lang. Performances of the
commissioned works were presented by prominent ensembles including American
Ballet Theatre, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Sankai Juku, the Alvin Ailey
American Dance Theatre, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, the Paul
Taylor Dance Company, the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, the Ahn Trio and
the Ethos Percussion Group.
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