Kronos Quartet Reflects on World War I Centennial with Prelude to a Black Hole and Beyond Zero: 1914-1918, October 25

Thursday, October 2, 2014

CONTACT: Sarah Snyder

College Park, MD— The Kronos Quartet reflects on the centennial of World War I with a performance at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center’s Kay Theatre on October 25 at 8pm. The first half of the program features Prelude to a Black Hole, a compilation of unusual works chosen by Kronos to convey the serenity and impact of the World War I centennial.  Works include Stravinsky’s Three Pieces for String Quartet, Ravel’s Trois beaux oiseaux du Paradis and Rachmaninov’s Nunc Dimittis from All-Night Vigil. The second part of the program is Beyond Zero: 1914-1918, a new work composed by Aleksandra Vrebalov and accompanied by a Bill Morrison film, which uses rare archival World War I footage.


About Beyond Zero:  1914-1918

Composer Aleksandra Vrebalov was inspired by anti-war writings, music and art created during and immediately after World War I, including the writings of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, the music of Satie and Debussy, and the Dada movement. Beyond Zero:  1914-1918 draws from their disillusionment about heroism and patriotism. 

Vrebalov says, “Unlike official histories, that have often romanticized and glorified the war, artists have typically been the keepers of sanity, showing its brutality, destruction, and ugliness. For many, across history, creating art in those circumstances served as a survival mechanism.”

Throughout the piece, Vrebalov includes documentary recordings from different wars, from the “Loyalty Speech” of James Watson Gerard, who served as U.S. Ambassador to Germany until 1917, to the sound of air-raid sirens during the bombing of London in World War II.  Her intent was to juxtapose these historical accounts of war with expressions of spirit and creativity – Béla Bartók’s own playing of his 1916 Piano Suite, Huelsenbeck’s reading of his Chorus Sanctus, and a Byzantine hymn “Eternal Memory to the Virtuous,” chanted in remembrance of all who have lost their lives to war.

The film portion of Beyond Zero:  1914-1918 includes rare 35mm nitrate films shot during the Great War never seen before by modern audiences.  Filmmaker Bill Morrison includes footage of training exercises, parades and troop movement all filmed at the time of the conflict. 

The Kronos Quartet’s David Harrington and Combat Paper Project’s Drew Cameron served as Creative Consultants for Beyond Zero: 1914-1918.

About Kronos Quartet

For 40 years, the Kronos Quartet—David Harrington (violin), John Sherba (violin), Hank Dutt (viola), and Sunny Yang (cello)—has pursued a singular artistic vision, combining a spirit of fearless exploration with a commitment to continually re-imagining the string quartet experience. In the process, Kronos has become one of the most celebrated and influential groups of our time, performing thousands of concerts worldwide, releasing more than 50 recordings of extraordinary breadth and creativity, collaborating with many of the world's most intriguing and accomplished composers and performers, and commissioning more than 800 works and arrangements for string quartet. Kronos is the only recipient of both the Polar Music Prize and the Avery Fisher Prize and has also earned a Grammy for Best Chamber Music Performance (2004) and “Musicians of the Year” (2003) honors from Musical America.

In addition to its role as a performing and recording ensemble, the quartet is committed to mentoring emerging performers and composers and has led workshops, master classes, and other education programs via the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the California State Summer School for the Arts, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Institute, The Barbican in London, and other institutions in the U.S. and overseas. Kronos has recently undertaken extended educational residencies at UC Berkeley’s Cal Performances, The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland, the Special Music School at the Kaufman Music Center in New York City and the Malta Arts Festival.


More information can be found on our website. Tickets for this performance are $25/$20/$10 (Regular/NextLEVEL/Students), and can be purchased online or by calling (301) 405-ARTS (2787).


Located on the University of Maryland campus and a part of the College of Arts and Humanities, The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center is a premier presenting arts venue and collaborative laboratory shared by the Artist Partner Program (APP), the School of Music (SOM), the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS), Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library (MSPAL) and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC).  The Clarice made its debut in 2001 and has grown into a national model for campus performing arts centers, presenting performances and programs by artist partners as well as by students, faculty and alumni of SOM and TDPS. The Clarice is building the future of the arts now.

The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center is supported by a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency dedicated to cultivating a vibrant cultural community where the arts thrive. An agency of the Department of Business & Economic Development, the MSAC provides financial support and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations, units of government, colleges and universities for arts activities. Funding for the Maryland State Arts Council is also provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.