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Release: Aug. 27, 1999

Kronos Quartet premieres Hancher commissions in Sept. 15 Millennium Festival concert

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- As part of the Millennium Festival at the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium, the Kronos Quartet -- the ensemble that has revolutionized chamber music during the last quarter of the 20th century -- will present three world premieres and five Hancher-commissioned compositions in "Traveling Music," a concert of diverse string quartet music from around the globe, at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 15.

Kronos will joined in Iowa City by Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov, who composed the music for the recent Kronos CD "Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind" and also arranged three other works for the "Traveling Music" concert.

Golijov will offer a free event, "Who Was Isaac the Blind: An Evening of Jewish Mysticism and Klezmer Music," at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 14 in Old Brick, 26 E. Market St. in Iowa City, co-sponsored by Agudas Achim Synagogue, the Hillel Foundation and the UI School of Religion. Participants in this informal community event will include guest clarinetist David Krakauer, School of Religion faculty member Ralph Keen and a klezmer band led by Robert Paredes.

The Sept. 15 concert will reflect the 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 clarinetist Krakauer and Indian tabla player Zakir Hussain.

The Hancher commissions on the concert program are "Responso" by Argentine composer Anibal Troilo, arranged by Golijov; "Panonia 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. Svigals' composition will be given its world premiere.

The commissions of "Traveling Music" are supported by Procter & Gamble and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Other works on the program are the world premiere of "Tonight is the Night" by Indian composer Rahul Dev Berman, "Oasis" by Azerbaijani composer Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, the world premiere of "La Muerte Chiquita" by Mexican composer Enrique Rangel, and Golijov's "Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind."

Since its founding in 1973, Kronos has relentlessly redefined the contemporary string quartet, adding more than 400 works to the string-quartet repertoire, and inspiring new generations of composers around the world -- many of them outsiders to the classical music tradition -- to write for chamber music's most venerable combination of instruments. They have also infused chamber music merely crossing musical and aesthetic boundaries, but refusing to acknowledge that boundaries exist. Along the way they have recorded the largest-selling string-quartet discography in history.

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."

Hancher Auditorium has played a significant role in the career of the iconoclastic Kronos Quartet, including numerous commissions and premieres. Several seasons ago, for example, Hancher gave Kronos the opportunity to try out a concert concept -- a program of music by composers from all parts of Africa. The success of that concert -- which included what may have been the first string-quartet sing-along ever recorded -- eventually led to the CD "Pieces of Africa," which has become the largest-selling string-quartet recording in history.

The turn of the millennium also finds Kronos at a crossroads in its history as an ensemble. Cellist Joan Jeanreneau has just announced her retirement, after 20 years with the quartet. She has been replaced by Jennifer Culp, who joins founding first violinist David Harrington, second violinist John Sherba and violist Hank Dutt.

The Hancher Millennium Festival has emerged as the most extensive and ambitious performing-arts millennium celebration in the United States. The season-spanning festival features 20 major commissions in music, theater and dance, with 15 of the commissioned works and productions receiving their world or American premieres in Hancher. (The number of commissions just increased, with the finalizing of the Kronos Quartet programs.)

In addition to the "Traveling Music" compositions, new works have been created -- or are being created -- 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 Richard Danielpour, Michael Daugherty, Paul Schoenfield, and UI alumnus David Lang.

Performances of the commissioned works will be presented by prominent ensembles including American Ballet Theatre, Twyla Tharp Dance, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Bang on a Can, 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.

Several of the commissioned works will be presented in the midst of residencies that will feature extensive arts education efforts, including events cabled statewide on the Iowa Communication Network (ICN). The ICN is a unique, state-owned fiber-optic network linking educational institutions, libraries, community centers and government agencies for real-time audio-visual interaction.

Tickets for the Kronos Quartet's "Traveling Music" are $28, $25 and $23. UI students and senior citizens qualify for a 20-percent discount, with Zone 3 tickets available to UI students for $10. Tickets for audience members 17 and younger are half price.

Tickets may be purchased at a substantial discount as part of Hancher's volume-purchase plan. A simultaneous purchase of three to five events qualifies for a 15-percent discount, and a simultaneous purchase of six or more events qualifies for a 20-percent discount.

Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and 1-3 p.m. Sunday. From the local calling area or outside Iowa, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance within Iowa and western Illinois is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. 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.

People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

The entire 1999-2000 Hancher season -- including the season-spanning Millennium Festival -- is detailed in a free brochure, "At This Moment," which is available from the Hancher administrative offices (319-335-1130) or the Hancher box office.

People who are interested in providing financial support for the Millennium Festival should contact Victor Mashburn at the University of Iowa Foundation, 319-335-3305.