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Release: Feb. 8, 2002

Kronos Quartet presents world premiere of 'Nuevo' concert March 2 in Hancher

The 14-year collaboration between the Kronos Quartet and the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium will continue with the world premiere of the Kronos "Nuevo" concert, featuring the "space-age bachelor-pad" music of Esquivel and other popular and folk musical styles of Mexico, at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 2.

The second half of the concert will feature the Quartet No. 4 by Latvian composer Peteris Vasks, whose music combines both traditional styles and recent musical thoughts, often using motifs from Latvian folk music. Vasks wrote of his fourth quartet, "While working on the score, I often reflected upon the passing century. My reflections were somber ones. There has been so much bloodshed and destruction, and yet love's power and idealism have helped to keep the world in balance."

The "Nuevo" half of the program features both new compositions and arrangements by Osvaldo Golijov, Ricardo Gallardo and Steven Prutsman of songs by composers well known in Mexico, and in some cases throughout the world. The concert will present most of the works that have been recorded for the upcoming Kronos "Nuevo" CD.

Severiano Briseno's "The Man from Sinaloa," is a bawdy song about a drunken character from the western coastal state of Sinaloa. Briseno performed with a popular trio in the 1950s called the Trio Tamaulipeco, and this song was later made famous by Banda El Recodo de Don Cruz Lizarraga, a mostly-brass band that continues to perform.

Agustin Lara became famous in the 1930s, with the installation of a new transmitter in Mexico that allowed his songs to be broadcast throughout Mexico. "Se Me Hizo Fácil" (It Was Easy for Me) is one of his hundreds of songs that became standards for Spanish-language performers.

Juan Garcia Esquivel, whose "Mini Skirt" is featured in "Nuevo," was signed by RCA Victor in 1958, just as two-channel Hi-Fi stereo systems were being introduced into American households. Audiences were eager to acquire recordings to try out their new sound equipment, and Esquivel's "space-age bachelor-pad" compositions and arrangements pushed stereos to their limits. He constantly experimented with new instruments, and his recordings for RCA Victor took full advantage of the stereo phenomenon, creating a staggering array of effects with reverb and the new ability to pan sound from channel to channel.

Alberto Dominguez' "Perfidia" (Perfidy, 1939) is a standard that has been recorded by Nat King Cole, Glenn Miller and Jimmy Dorsey. Multiple overdubbed Kronoses evoke the 101 Strings orchestras of the 1950s and '60s. The original lyrics are the words of a man whose love has betrayed him; the chorus laments, "Woman, if you can speak to God, ask him if I ever stopped loving you."

A committed anti-fascist and socialist, Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas considered himself something of a barbarian in the world of upper-class music, often challenging distinctions between "serious" and "popular" music by abandoning traditional European models and weaving into his works traditional and commercial Mexican music. His "Sensemaya" (1937) describes an Afro-Cuban ritual called "Matar la culebra" (Killing the Snake), dance performed every Epiphany to exorcise evil.

Golijov composed "K'in Sventa Ch'ul Me'tik Kwadulupe" (Festival for the Holy Mother Guadalupe) to accompany an historic recording made by David Lewiston in the 1970s for the influential Nonesuch Explorer series. In the town of Chamula in the state of Chiapas, Lewiston captured on tape a ritual performed during the Festival for the Holy Mother Guadalupe, in which the responsibility of taking care of the saint moves from the religious leader of the past year to the new leader.

"Cuatro Milpas" (Four Cornfields, c. 1926) was a popular tune by composer, soldier and inspector of bands Colonel Belisario Jesus de Garcia, and it is still played by current mariachi groups. The Kronos version features the recorded performance of a Mexican street musician playing an organillo, or barrel organ, a common source of dance music in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Every Monday night between 1970 and 1995, Mexican television audiences sat down to watch the comedy show "Chespirito." Within the first five years of its uninterrupted broadcast history, it spawned two spinoffs -- "El Chapulin Colorado" and "El Chavo del Ocho" -- and all three programs were aired throughout Latin America. The programs were based on quirky characters created by famed comedian, writer, composer, actor, director and producer Roberto Gomez Bolanos, a.k.a. "Chespirito" (or, "little Shakespeare," as Mexican film director Agustin P. Delgado dubbed him). The "Chavo Suite" in "Nuevo" features music from these three programs, including the theme songs to "El Chavo del Ocho" and "El Chapulin Colorado," in which the 5'3" Chespirito played an inept superhero dressed as a red grasshopper with antennae and a big yellow heart on his chest.

In the early part of the 20th century, legendary events and famous revolutionaries like Pancho Villa were chronicled in corridos, narrative ballads that had their roots in Spanish romances. The corrido has experienced a rebirth in recent years as the narco-corrido, now featuring heroes from the drug-smuggling trade in Sinaloa, the heart of Mexico's drug industry. Despite being banned from the radio, these songs have exploded in popularity in northwest Mexico and southern California. Chalino Sanchez, who was murdered at the age of 31, has become one of the most influential
narco-corrido singers, and he has been mythologized as the paradigm of a valiente, a tough, independent man who lived under his own rules. Kronos will play an arrangement of his "Nacho Verduzco."

December 12, celebrated throughout Mexico as the Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, was the inspiration for "12/12," by the Mexican band Cafe Tacuba to evoke different moments and environments experienced during the course of the celebration.

Billboard magazine called the Kronos Quartet "the most important chamber group of the 20th century," who not only "revolutionized chamber performance, but helped to change the face of contemporary music."

The Kronos "Traveling Music," concert during Hancher's 1999-2000 Millennium Festival led to the "Kronos Caravan" CD, featuring three Hancher commissions. 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 quartet's best."

A few years earlier, 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.

Those concerts featured just a few of the many commissions and premieres that have made Hancher and Iowa major contributors to the world-wide musical phenomenon that is the Kronos Quartet.

Critic Alan Rich summarized, "Kronos simply has not, in its glorious quarter-century of exploration, invention and innovation, found the time to be bored. Nor has it left that kind of time for us happy listeners out front. As its members have redefined the substance of the string-quartet repertoire, it has also led its cheering throngs, we of the turn-away crowds and we among the ecstatic discophiles, to redefine the very nature of the chamber-music experience."

William Rubright and the late Emilie Rubright were the supporters of the Kronos commissions and premiere, through the University of Iowa Foundation. Hancher's "Nuevo" co-commissioners and co-supporters are Performing Arts Center/University of Texas, Austin; Washington Performing Arts Society; Cal Performances/University of California, Berkeley; Montalvo Center for the Arts; UA Presents/University of Arizona, Tucson; National Endowment for the Arts; the California Challenge Program of the California Arts Council; the US-Mexico Fund for Culture; the James Irvine Foundation; the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; the San Francisco Foundation, Judithe Bizot; and Simon Collier.

Tickets to "Nuevo" are $30, $27 and $25. UI students and senior citizens qualify for a 20 percent discount, and Zone 2 and 3 tickets are available to UI students for $10. Tickets for audience members 17 and younger are half price.

Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Tickets may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Hancher's website:< http://www.uiowa.edu/hancher >.

Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail: <hancherboxoffice@uiowa.edu>.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit <www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa>. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <deborah-thumma@uiowa.edu>. Visit the Kronos website at < http://www.kronosquartet.org >for additional information.

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KRONOS QUARTET/HANCHER -- commissions and premieres

1989 -- Assembly Required visual design, commission

Kevin Volans, "The Songlines," commission

1990 -- world premieres of commissioned visual designs for Terry Riley's "Salome Dances
for Peace" and George Crumb's "Black Angels"

1991 -- commission of "Mai Nozipo" by Dumiane Maraire (world premiere)

Christian Marclay and Jay Cloidt commission (world premiere)

1992 -- Scott Johnson "How it Happens (Words of I.F. Stone)," commission (world premiere)

1994 -- Michelle DiBucci and Randall Wolf arrangements of music by Raymond Scott, commissions

John Oswald, "Mach," commission

1995 -- Brent Michael Davids, "Tunpao Nenangpe" commission

Ben Johnston arrangements of music by Harry Partch, commission

1996 -- Tan Dun, "Ghost Opera," commission

PQ Phan, "Memoirs of a Lost Soul," commission (world premiere)

1998 -- Ben Johnston, arrangement of music by Harry Partch, commission

1999 -- "Traveling Music" (concert world premiere), including --

Rahul Dev Burman, arr. Osvaldo Golijov, "Tonight is the Night" (world premiere)

Kayhan Kalhor, "Gallop of a Thousand Horses," commission

Hyo-Shin Na, "Song of the Beggars," commission

Alicia Svingals, "Kale Baveynen II, commission (world premiere)

Aleksandra Vrebalov, "Panonia Boundless," commission

2000 -- Gabriela Ortiz, "Baalkah," commission,

"Tonight is the Night" concert world premiere with Dawn Upshaw

2002 -- "Nuevo" (concert world premiere)

Terry Riley/Donald Gurnett "Sun Rings" (world premiere next fall.