San Francisco, California, USA – Stanford Lively Arts presents
the Kronos Quartet, champions of new classical music, with special guest Rahman
Asadollahi, award-winning composer, conductor, and master of the garmon
(Azerbaijani accordion). (Asadollahi replaces Paul Hillier, who has cancelled
due to health issues.) The Kronos Quartet performs on Friday, February 18 at
8:00 pm in Dinkelspiel Auditorium on the Stanford University campus. A
post-performance discussion is free and open to the public.Rahman Asadollahi, master of the garmon is known for his phenomenal playing
and ravishing original compositions,
which plumb the depths of musical sensuality. First prize-winner among 650
artists at the All European Accordion and Harmonica Championship in Switzerland
(1995), Asadollahi was a featured master artist at the first annual San
Francisco World Music Festival in 2000 and again in 2004. Exiled in 1985 from
Iran, which banned Azerbaijani music from
public venues, he has toured and performed in Turkmenistan, England, France,
Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany, settling in the United States in
1999. Prior to that, he composed, performed, and conducted Azerbaijani concerts
in Iran where he became known as the master of all accordion players.
Technically brilliant, Asadollahi conveys an amazing understanding of human
suffering and joy.
Asadollahi and the Kronos were introduced by Kutay Kugay, KPFA radio host and
program director for the San Francisco World Music Festival. During a
conversation about Kronos’ program for the 2004 festival, Kugay suggested
Asadollahi. During that summer, Kronos founder David Harrington met Asadollahi,
who then composed a piece for himself with
Kronos. Two rehearsals later, it was evident they were a perfect match, said
Azerbaijani music is emotionally appealing, full of dramatic flares, trembling
embellishments, cascading improvisations, and slow meandering descents that end
in a swift decisive finish. Deeply rooted, the music stems from a natural
progression of Southwest Asian and middle European roots. Azerbaijani music
employs mughams, similar to Turkish makams and
Persian dasgahs, involving free improvisations, instrumental melody, and folk
motifs to evoke certain moods. The garmon is a smaller, sweeter-toned version of
the European model accordion. The garmon that Asadollahi plays is more than 90
years old and was made in the Caucasus.
The program has been revised to feature Asadollahi’s artistry. New selections
include: Jabiru Dreaming by Peter Sculthorpe; Mugam Beyati Shiraz, a traditional
work arranged by the Kronos Quartet featuring Asadollahi on garmon; and Garmon
Yanar Odlaryurdana by Rahman Asadollahi (arr. Kronos Quartet). The program also
includes the following previously scheduled works: The Day the Earth Stood Still
by Bernard Herrmann (arr. Stephen Prutsman); Flugufrelsarinn (The Fly
Freer); Suite by Rahul Dev Burman; and String Quartet: Oculus Pro Oculo Totum
Orbem Terrae Caecat (“an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”) by
Alexandra du Bois.
Synonymous with musical innovation, the Kronos Quartet is known for its unique
artistic vision and fearless dedication to experimentation. Created in 1973,
Kronos has been commissioning new work since its earliest days. To date, more
pieces have been written or arranged for the ensemble. The group’s current line
up is: founder David Harrington, violin; John Sherba, violin; Hank Dutt, viola;
and Jennifer Culp, viola.
An extensive repertoire ranges from Alban Berg, Alfred Schnittke, and George
Crumb to Hildegard von Bingen, Charles Mingus, and Astor Piazzolla. In addition
to creative relationships with composers such as Terry Riley, Franghiz Ali-Zadeh,
and Osvaldo Golijov, Kronos has collaborated with countless artists, among them,
Dawn Upshaw, Zakir Hussain, Allen Ginsberg, Burhan Öçal, and the Throat Singers
of Tuva. Kronos has recently, or will soon, premiere works written for them by Alexandra du Bois, Michael Gordon, Guo Wenjing, Martyn Jaques, Vladimir Martynov,
Stephen Prutsman, Peteris Vasks, and Julia Wolfe, among others.
Among its numerous awards are three Edison Prizes (the Netherlands), Jahrespreis
der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik (Germany), Rolf Schock Prize in Music
(Sweden), eight ASCAP/Chamber Music America Awards for Adventurous Programming
(United States), Australian Broadcasting Company Classic FM Best International
Recording of the Year, Les Diapason d’Or de Mai (France), and others.
Kronos, which records exclusively for Nonesuch Records, has released more than
35 albums, won Grammy Awards for Alban Berg’s Lyric Suite with Dawn
Upshaw (2003) and Different Trains (1989), and been nominated for eight
other Grammy Awards. Nuevo (2002), was nominated for a Grammy Award as Best
Classical Crossover Album, and a Latin Grammy for Best Classical Album. The
quartet’s music is heard throughout the world in concert, on radio and
television, in films, and in more than 100 concerts around the globe each year.
Tickets for the Kronos Quartet on Friday, February 18 at 8:00 pm in Dinkelspiel
Auditorium are priced at $44/$40 for adults. Half-price tickets are available
for young people age 15 and under, and discounts are available for students. For
tickets and more information, contact the Stanford Ticket Office, located at
Tresidder Memorial Union, at
650-725-ARTS (2787), or go online to
Stanford Lively Arts, celebrating its 35th anniversary season at Stanford
University, annually brings to the Peninsula a full season of classical and
world music, dance, stage, and spoken word by world-famous artists as well as
astounding newcomers. Lively Arts fosters artistic growth through world
premieres, unique collaborations, and commissions to create new works. Its
extensive education and community programs provide intimate opportunities for
dialogue and interaction between artists and arts lovers of all ages, many of which are free
and open to the public.
Stanford Lively Arts programs are supported in part by Arts Council Silicon
Valley, Cisco Systems Foundation, Citigroup Foundation, Koret Foundation, New
England Foundation for the Arts, The San Francisco Foundation, and The William
and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
[Photos: 1 – Rahman Asadollahi; 2 – Kronos Quartet].
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.