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Release: April 14, 2000

(EDITORS NOTE: Direct interview requests to Kronos, 415-731-3533, <>

Kronos Quartet and Dawn Upshaw premiere 'Tonight is the Night' May 3 in Hancher at UI

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Kronos Quartet and opera/art song diva Dawn Upshaw will premiere their new world folk-music collaboration, "Tonight is the Night," at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 3 in Hancher Auditorium on the University of Iowa campus. The concert is the final event in Hancher's Millennium Festival, the nation's most ambitious and extensive performing-arts millennium celebration, which has featured more than 20 commissions in music, theater and dance -- most of which have been given their world or American premieres in Hancher during 1999-2000.

A concert featuring eight world premieres, "Tonight is the Night," is titled after the Indian song that opens the program, and features original compositions based on folk sources by Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov and Mexican composer Gabriela Ortiz. Hancher commissioned the Ortiz composition, "Baalkah" (World), for the Millennium Festival.

The concert also includes a globe-spanning series of traditional songs arranged especially for Kronos and Upshaw. The songs originated in Portugal, Spain, Egypt, India and even the Stephen Foster song "Ah, May the Red Rose Live Alway."

The concert production -- which travels from Iowa City to Berkeley and Irvine, Calif.; New York City; London, England; and Prague in the Czech Republic -- coincides with the release of the Kronos "Caravan" CD, which features several of the compositions Kronos performed in Hancher last fall, including "Tonight is the Night" by Rahul Dev Burman.

Kronos founder and first violinist David Harrington says of the collaboration, "Dawn Upshaw can contribute so much to what Kronos does because she's stretching her own boundaries all the time. As a performer and as someone to prepare music with, she's an ideal collaborator because she's great to work with, she puts all of herself into what she does, and she's one of the best singers I've ever heard.

"One of the things I'm looking forward to in this collaboration is to explore different musical styles and to hear many different languages. It's amazing how a language that you don't understand can become almost like a musical melody. Dawn will sing in several languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and Hindi, and in the case of the piece that Gabriela Ortiz is writing -- in Mayan. I'm hoping that our concert is going to end up being a celebration of diversity."

Upshaw says, "For me, singing is foremost about words. I trace this back to my experience with the American folk songs that I sang and listened to as a child -- songs whose entire premise rests on immediate and forthright expression. In this respect, these songs from distant lands remain, in aesthetic terms, quite close to home."

Since its inception in 1973, Kronos has emerged as a leading voice for new work, without boundaries. More than 400 works have been written or arranged for Kronos, including numerous works commissioned by Hancher Auditorium for Iowa premieres. The quartet's "Pieces of Africa" CD, which became the largest selling string quartet recording in history, originated in an
African-theme concert in Hancher.

Upshaw has become one of the world's most celebrated singers -- spanning opera, art-song recitals, popular songs, musical theater, recordings and television broadcasts -- noted for her commitment to performances of new music. She starred on the recording of the Gorecki Symphony No. 3, which became the largest-selling recording of contemporary classical music ever, with sales of more than a million copies.

The recipient of Hancher's commission, Gabriela Ortiz, was born in Mexico City and studied in Mexico, the United States and England. Her work combines the European art-music tradition with Mexican folk music and jazz, spiced with an interest in pre-Colombian culture. The Hancher commission was supported by Procter & Gamble and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Golijov was born in Argentina, and also lived in Jerusalem before moving to the United States in the mid-1980s. A New York Times review described the two-time Friedheim Award winner as "a musical alchemist who conjures up new worlds." He visited the UI last fall for the Kronos performance, with Klezmer clarinetist David Krakauer, of his award-winning "Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind."

Hancher's season-spanning Millennium Festival has featured more than 20 major commissions in music, theater and dance. In addition to the "Baalkah" new works have been created by artists including theater visionary Robert Lepage; choreographers Twyla Tharp, Ushio Amagatsu, Bill T. Jones, UI alumnus Lar Lubovitch, Susan Marshall, Paul Taylor, and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar; and composers Richard Danielpour, Paul Schoenfield, Cedar Rapids native Michael Daugherty and UI alumnus David Lang with his Bang on a Can associates. Performances have involved American Ballet Theatre, Twyla Tharp Dance, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Bang on a Can, the Ethos Percussion Group, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Sankai Juku, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, the Ahn Trio and the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio.

Tickets to the May 3 concert are $35, $32 and $30. 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.

Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. From the local calling area, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance 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.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit <>.