When Kronos Quartet hosts its Kronos Festival at SFJAZZ next week, among the guests will be the Amaranth Quartet, who have a Saturday afternoon concert of selections from ‘Fifty for the Future‘. It’s a five year commissioning project, now about half done, that has ten composers each year writing music that will then be made available to quartets for free.
David Harrington says seeing a young quartet playing the works they’ve commissioned is what the project is all about. “For me to hear the Amaranth Quartet play our music… just the amount of thought and work that they’ve put into making the Fifty for the Future concert, is so inspiring to me. It’s wonderful to hear other people play our music… They’ve gone through the 20 available Fifty for the Future pieces, and they’ve chosen five or six that they’re going to perform at the Joe Henderson Lab.” Among the works they’ll play is one called My Desert, My Rose by Serbian-American composer Aleksandra Vrebalov. “We thought that would be a cool one because there’s a lot of open improv in it,” says Amaranth cellist Helen Newby. “One of our main concerns was picking pieces that really contrasted with one another. And that one really stood out from all of the others.” Violinist Emily Botel says they listened and looked at the scores that were available. “We decided each one of us would have a first choice that we got to have on the program, so we all picked one that was our favorite, and kind of went from there.” As there have been in past years, many who have collaborated with Kronos will be taking part in the festival. “Zakir Hussain, and Mahsa Vahdat, and David Coulter, our artist-in-residence. CocoRosie, the great vocal duo, and the San Franciso Girls Chorus, and Vân-Ánh Võ, the great Vietnamese instrumentalist is joining us.” The ensemble from Mali called Trio da Kali, who they made a CD with last year will also join them. “It’s an absolutely ecstatic experience to get to play music with the Trio da Kali. And to make that record together was one of the great joys of our life. This will be the first time that we’ve performed together since the album came out.”