Kronos Quartet: Women's Voices
May 12, 2012
* Notes *
Kronos Quartet gave two performances under the title Women's Voices in San Francisco this weekend. The program featured four female composers and two female performers. Friday's concert began with the wry "Death to Kosmische" by Nicole Lizée, whose sense of humor came through the piece rather beautifully. Laurie Anderson's quieter Flow, arranged here by Jacob Garchik, made for a nice contrast. Mosaic, an arrangement of Delia Derbyshire's music by Danny Clay with David Harrington, followed. An impressive array of instruments were used in addition to the violins, viola, and cello of a normal string quartet.
The most anticipated work of the evening was the world premiere of Vân-Ánh Vanessa Võ 's All Clear, in which the composer also performed. The đàn tranh, đàn bầu, k'ni, and artillery gongs were employed. Vo sang two texts. The audience even struck rocks together at a certain point in the music, as cued by two of the musicians on stage.
The second half of the performance was devoted to Derek Charke's Tundra Songs with special guest vocalist Tanya Tagaq (pictured above, photograph by Nadya Kwandeben), a Inuk throat singer. Tagaq's voice is unbelievable, both ethereal and visceral. Kronos Quartet did a fine job of supporting her, but not being dull in the least.
* Tattling *
I happened to be seated in Row O all by myself, but behind a person I happened to recognize as an arts activist from many years past. She whispered a few times to her companion, and I could not help but notice that the two women did not turn off their mobile phones and used them as timekeepers or flashlights when the need arose.