David Harrington, “Provocateur”
As the Artistic Director of the Kronos Quartet, David Harrington keeps his eyes and ears open, in search of new, inspiring ways to push aside boundaries.
Part of the responsibility of a civilized society is to create a better situation for each of us. The ideals that pull us need to be constantly nourished and constantly reexamined and that’s what a performance does. It’s a way of examining our lives and reactivating the spring inside of us that makes us want to jump out of bed in the morning and try again.
A performance is a way of examining our lives and reactivating the spring inside of us that makes us want to jump out of bed in the morning and try again.
I get supercharged in that task every day by events surrounding me, walking down the street, listening to people speak. San Francisco is an incredibly fertile place to live. You can hear five to ten different languages if you walk from my home to the neighborhood bakery. For me that is part of the fabric of what goes into the work of Kronos. And I try to read the newspaper every day; I read several newspapers and i’m constantly listening to music, and frequently it’s music unknown to me that arrives at my door in various ways.
I’m spending a lot of my time exploring right now, thinking what we can do in our collaboration this season with Eiko and Koma, these amazing people who are willing to reveal so much of themselves to their audience. That sense of challenge, that sense of the unknown, is really what it’s all about. Being sensitive to that and attempting to push the boundaries of everything we’ve done before — push them aside and find new boundaries — that’s what I live for and that’s what I think the Clarice Smith Center is all about.
I live to push the boundaries of everything we’ve done before — to push them aside and find new boundaries.
One of the problems that musicians have in our society, in our culture, is that somehow it got called “playing” music. So when the culture-at-large thinks about musicians like me they think we’re off playing in a sandbox all day and having the time of our lives and being totally irresponsible. But as a matter of fact that’s entirely the opposite of what we do. The musicians that I know work as hard if not harder than most other members of our society. Music can always be better so there’s no end to making a better note, or a better piece of music, or something that reaches deeper into the heart and the spirit of our listeners.
There’s a lot of life that has to be lived for anyone to call themselves an artist but the artistic impulse is something we can all share and that’s what I want to do every breath I get to take for the rest of my life.