Behind the Kronos Quartet’s gorgeous string arrangements is a deep commitment to creative exploration, cross-cultural collaboration and making music accessible to fans and players alike. That’s why their annual Kronos Festival tends to feature some of the most exciting contemporary classical music seen in the Bay Area.
This year, the festival takes place mostly online June 11–18, with nine events and 14 world premieres of new musical compositions and films. On June 11, Malian singer Hawa Kassé Mady Diabaté premieres her new pice Wawani, which she performed with her daughter Rokia Kouyaté in a film shot in Mali. Korean composer Soo Yeon Lyuh debuts a piece called Tattoo, which she wrote after someone fired a gun at her car in Berkeley. And Iranian classical singer Mahsa Vahdat (whose Enlighten the Night made KQED’s list of best Bay Area albums of 2020) performs Vaya, Vaya, presented in a film by Laurie Olinder.
All these performances screen on opening night, which also features new works by Nicole Lizée, Stacy Garrop, Tadi Todi, Clint Mansell, Jlin, Sam Amidon, Brian Carpenter, Lee Knight and Aoife O’Donovan.
Additional virtual concerts with a vast lineup of diverse artists take place on June 13, 16 and 18, and the festival invites fans to gather in person in Golden Gate Park on June 12 for a GPS-guided musical tour. Composed by Ellen Reid and performed by Kronos and others, Soundwalk can be heard through an app that plays location-specific compositions as the listener makes their way through the landscape.
Kronos Festival also includes a program for kids on June 13 and several documentary short film premieres on June 13, 14, 15 and 17, including Valerie Soe’s Radical Care: The Auntie Sewing Squad, about the people who jumped into action to sew face masks during the pandemic.