Kronos Quartet, Mahsa Vahdat to perform ‘Music for Change’ Feb. 18 at Eisenhower

January 20, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — For more than four decades, Kronos Quartet has been introducing American audiences to the works of composers from countries throughout the world. But when the San Francisco ensemble comes to Penn State for a concert at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18, in Eisenhower Auditorium, it will perform a program prompted by a political debate about a handful of nations.

“As a direct protest to the executive orders limiting travel to the United States by people from largely Muslim-majority countries, Kronos Quartet will perform a program featuring music that highlights the rich diversity of artistic voices from Muslim-majority countries,” the group states as its motivation for the program “Music for Change: The Banned Countries.”

Iranian vocalist Mahsa Vahdat, who lives in the San Francisco area, will join Kronos for a selection of music from their recent collaboration album “Placeless.”

“Drawn from throughout the far-flung Muslim world,” the presentation’s program notes state, “the concert features newly commissioned arrangements, such as ‘Dooyo’ by Somalia’s Dur-Dur Band and ‘Ya Mun Dakhal Bahr Al-Hawa’ (Hey, Who Enters the Sea of Passion?) by Yemen’s Fatimah Al-Zaelaeyah, as well as pieces gleaned from Kronos’ long-standing repertoire.”

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“As the most far-ranging ensemble geographically, nationally and stylistically the world has known, the Kronos was easily within its comfort zone,” a Los Angeles Times reviewer wrote about a “Music for Change” performance. “… This was a journey of discovery for which the audience couldn’t quite be prepared. One listened with wonderment.”

Kronos—David Harrington and John Sherba (violins), Hank Dutt (viola) and Sunny Yang (cello)—merges a spirit of exploration with a commitment to reinvent what it means to be a string quartet. The group has become one of the world’s most influential ensembles, performing thousands of concerts, releasing more than 60 recordings, collaborating with many of the most accomplished composers and performers, and commissioning more than 1,000 works and arrangements.

The ensemble appears at prestigious concert halls, clubs and festivals. It’s equally prolific and wide-ranging on recordings, including two Grammy-winning albums—“Landfall” with Laurie Anderson (2018) and Alban Berg’s “Lyric Suite” featuring Dawn Upshaw (2003). Other recent releases include “Ladilikan” with Trio Da Kali, an ensemble of Malian griot musicians, and “Clouded Yellow” by Bang on a Can founding composer Michael Gordon.

Vahdat, a native of Tehran, is a prominent performer of Persian vocal music and an advocate of freedom of expression. Her career has given a deeper knowledge about Iranian poetry and music to audiences across five continents. While her style is based on the Persian vocal traditions of classical and regional folk music, she sings with a contemporary expression. She composes most of her songs, typically using poems by classical writers such as Hafez and Rumi or contemporary ones like Fourogh Farokhzad and Mohammad Ibrahim Jafari.

At Penn State, where Kronos has previously performed three times, Paul Wiancko will be guest cellist because of Yang’s maternity leave.

After the concert, the musicians will engage in a discussion with interested audience members.

Artistic Viewpoints, an informal moderated discussion featuring a visiting artist or artists, is offered in Eisenhower one hour before the performance and is free for ticket holders. Artistic Viewpoints regularly fills to capacity, so seating is available on a first-arrival basis.

Support for programming at the Center for the Performing Arts is provided, in part, by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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(Media Contacts)

Last Updated January 23, 2020