Paying Homage to a Folk Music Great
This year's Kronos Festival also features tributes to Pete Seeger, the folk musician and activist who would have turned 100 this year. Harrington considers him one of the all-time greatest American composers.
"I grew up listening to his music, we played it for our kids and we played it for our grandkids," says Harrington. "Now, Kronos is playing it for our audience."
At a pre-festival event at the Exploratorium on May 29, there's a screening of rare footage from Seeger's travels. And on June 1 at SFJAZZ, folk music historian Todd Harvey of the American Folklife Center gives a talk about Seeger's impact and environmental and civil rights activism. Composer Jacob Garchik, of the Balkan brass band Slavic Soul Party, composed an homage to Seeger that Kronos will perform.
Contemporary folk artists following in Seeger's footsteps also perform with Kronos throughout the festival, including Sam Amidon, a multi-instrumentalist who grew up playing in a family band and has since been featured on albums by Tune-Yards and the National, as well as Lee Knight, a keeper of traditional Appalachian folk music.
CocoRosie joins Kronos once again on May 30, as does Jherek Bischoff, a horn and string player whose solo career emerged from a successful one as a side man in the influential experimental band Xiu Xiu. Bischoff performs his original compositions for Kronos and bass guitar.
"I'm energized by what I hear CocoRosie doing," says Harrington of the lineup. "And every time we're around Jherek Bischoff—he's one of the most 'up' persons that I know of. He brings everyone to a higher realm."
Giving Students a Chance to Shine
This year's artist-in-residence, opera singer and San Francisco Girls Chorus artistic director Valérie Sainte-Agathe, joins Kronos for all three evenings along with singers from the San Francisco Girls Chorus. Student musicians from the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts also perform works from Fifty for the Future on May 30 and 31.