I finally get to see Kronos Quartet

I am really excited about (finally) seeing Kronos Quartet. This "rock band of string quartets" turns 40 this year and it's been nearly a decade since they last performed in Wellington. I remember it - what I don't remember is why I did not go. I'm going to guess that I had something else on or I was just plain broke (or both - since that's so often the way these days).

I fell for the music of the Kronos Quartet toward the end of my university days. I was working in a record store, reading loads of Bukowski and Burroughs, and I was interested in finding music that sat outside of rock and jazz (the two dominant genres in my life up to that point). But the classical genre - baroque, romantic and all of the periods up to modern classical composition - just didn't do it for me at that time. My classical music was Eno's ambient records, a huge number of film scores, the "jazz trio" The Necks, the minimalism of Steve Reich and Philip Glass. And through all of that - and somehow perfectly fitting inside and around all of that - I found Kronos Quartet.

At first it was the quartet collaborating with artists I admired or covering material I was familiar with. So early records for me included John Zorn's Spillane, Philip Glass's Songs from Liquid Days and the Kronos album Monk Suite: Kronos Quartet Plays the Music of Thelonious Monk.

From there it was to their interpretations of the work of Henryk Gorecki - his "symphony of sorrowful songs" had been a breakthrough for me; a huge part of me getting classical when I was a high school student. So I kept that name, always interested in versions of his works.

And then to collaborations and interpretations where Kronos explored material by Reich and Terry Riley.

So it was an immersion - and an emersion.

And then, it wasn't so much that I forgot about Kronos Quartet, it was merely relegated. For a time.

Then the soundtrack to the movie Requiem for a Dream had me back on the Kronos trip. Another Clint Mansell soundtrack too, the score for The Fountain (don't really like that film at all, whereas I had loved Requiem, but The Fountain's score is beautiful) and then I'm wondering why I had never seen this group. And I'm back searching around finding so many things they've done.

The list of collaborations is long and fascinating: they've worked with Nine Inch Nails and Tom Verlaine; they appeared on Sesame Street.

I never thought I'd get the chance to see them.

And they're here. This Monday in Wellington. And ahead of that they play Auckland's Arts Festival on Saturday then after Wellington it's to Dunedin for Wednesday, March 13, and Christchurch for Thursday, March 14. (See here for details.)

The programme for the evening features work from our own Jack Body and Reich's WTC 9/11. A Kronos showcase.

Reading this review from the recent Perth concert had me very excited. Maybe they're The Beatles or Rolling Stones of classical music? Though I think comparing them with Zappa and Zorn and Hendrix and Henryk still makes more sense; in the sound, attitude, approach.

I'm so excited about finally getting to see them.

Any Kronos Quartet fans here? Anyone going to one of the shows next week? Or have you seen them before? Do you have favourite albums or pieces by Kronos Quartet?

And if you've read this far and aren't all that interested in Kronos - what's the next gig that you're looking forward to seeing? Because Kronos Quartet, this coming Monday, is definitely the gig I'm looking forward to seeing, hearing, experiencing. How about you?

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