Cornish College of the Arts Joins Kronos’ Fifty For The Future

50 New Works To Be Created In 5 Years

All Designed For The Training Of Students And Emerging Professionals

Seattle, WA --
The Kronos Quartet/Kronos Performing Arts Association’s new program, Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire, was unveiled on January 28. With a lead partner, Carnegie Hall, Fifty for the Future will provide musicians with the most recent approaches to string quartet, designed expressly for the training of students and emerging professionals.

Cornish College of the Arts will be one of the first institutions of higher education to take advantage of this exciting new initiative. “We are delighted and honored to be a partner in Kronos’ Fifty for the Future,” said Cornish President Nancy J. Uscher. “Creating new music and new ways of teaching music is very much a part of Cornish's pioneering spirit and legacy. Most importantly, this partnership with Kronos exemplifies the type of distinctive collaboration that Cornish will continue to develop in its second century.”

Cornish also will  be working in collaboration with Kronos’ Fifty for the Future commissioning partner Seattle Theatre Group for local presentations, added Uscher.

Beginning in the  2015/16 season, Kronos’ Fifty for the Future will commission a collection of 50 new works – ten per year for five years – devoted to the most recent approaches to the string quartet and suitable for training of students and emerging professionals. The works will be commissioned from an eclectic group of composers – 25 men and 25 women – and the collection will represent the truly globe-spanning state of the art of the string quartet in the 21st century.

“I see a need for a thought-out and comprehensive primer, created by some of our very best collaborators. This primer is in part inspired by Béla Bartók's Mikrokosmos, which he wrote for his son as an entry point to piano studies,” said David Harrington, the artistic director and founder of Kronos.

Harrington’s  championship of new music began in 1973. Living in Seattle, the then 22-year-old Harrington commissioned his first composer, Ken Benshoof, and paid him with a bag of doughnuts. Kronos’ very first performance included the resulting “Traveling Music” by Benshoof – along with Barto?k’s Third Quartet, “Black Angels” by George Crumb, and Webern’s Six Bagatelles – all performed at North Seattle Community College before an audience of friends and family. According to Harrington, they also performed at Cornish College of the Arts during that first year. More recently, Kronos received honorary doctorates from Cornish in 2012 and headlined the 2013 Cornish gala.

For more than  forty years, Kronos has premiered literally hundreds of new compositions. “Now Kronos has access to a worldwide community of exceptionally creative people capable of making a multi-faceted introduction for the youngest enthusiasts among us. We’re trying to use all of our experience to create a body of music for future generations,” said Harrington. “Our idea is that as we're touring and playing these 50 pieces, Kronos will be working with and mentoring younger quartets, and the music will begin to appear in concerts of other groups all over the place; being played in homes, in schools, art galleries, concert halls, wherever music is played and listened to.”

Through jointly  designed master classes, workshops, and residencies, Kronos will work with Cornish and other Kronos’ Fifty for the Future partners to extend the reach of this educational program.

“As Kronos/Kronos  Performing Arts Association (KPAA) enters its fifth decade, we are incredibly pleased to be launching the largest artistic and organizational undertaking in our history - Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire,” said Janet Cowperthwaite, managing director of the Kronos Performing Arts Association. “Building on Kronos’ more than 40-year success in working with both a wide range of immensely creative composers and a dedicated, adventurous group of presenters, funders and other partner organizations, this project exemplifies the curiosity, ingenuity, and diversity that has been the hallmark of Kronos’ vision and artistic output since day one.”

Kronos will  premiere each work and create companion materials, including recordings, video, performance notes, and composer interviews. All of Kronos’ Fifty for the Future project materials – including scores and parts – will be distributed online and made available at no charge, in perpetuity. In the forward-looking spirit of Kronos’ decades-long history, Fifty for the Future will present string quartet music as a living art form, providing emerging musicians with both an indispensable library of learning, and a blueprint for their own future collaborations with composers.

Resources for Emerging Players

Kronos’ Fifty for  the Future addresses a vital need in the world of chamber music performance. While there are abundant resources for young string players who wish to specialize in the canon of works from Haydn through the great composers of the 20th century, there is no coordinated body of work designed to train students and emerging professionals in the techniques and approaches required to master the 21st century’s string quartet literature.

Kronos’ Fifty for the Future commissions will be graded in difficulty, from beginner through professional level, enabling young quartets to develop as players by working their way up through the ascending levels of complexity and technical challenge. Each composition will be 5 to 10 minutes in length and represent a fully realized musical work, to be programmed amid the other repertoire in Kronos’ own touring season.

Each of the fifty  compositions will be available online in a stand-alone module, offering the downloadable score and parts along with a variety of materials specific to the work.

First Ten  Composers

The first ten  Fifty for the Future composers, five men and five women, will write pieces for Kronos to premiere during the 2015/16 season. An eclectic group of unique and extraordinary voices, they hail from around the globe:

Franghiz Ali-Zadeh – Azerbaijan / Germany

Ken Benshoof – USA

Fodé Lassana Diabaté – Mali

Rhiannon Giddens  – USA

Yotam Haber –  Netherlands / Israel / USA

Garth Knox –  Ireland / France

Tanya Tagaq –  Canada

Merlijn  Twaalfhoven – Netherlands

Aleksandra  Vrebalov – Serbia / USA

Wu Man – China / USA

Carnegie Hall Partnership

As a highlight of its partnership with Carnegie Hall, Kronos Quartet will hold the position of the Richard and Barbara Debs Creative Chair for the 2015/16 season.

For the Hall’s 125th anniversary season, Kronos assumes a role that has been annually engaged by Carnegie Hall’s Debs Composer’s Chair, serving as the Hall’s primary advocate for the commissioning, writing, preparation, and performance of new music that represents a broad spectrum of composers and repertoire. As a central part of its Debs Creative Chair residency, Kronos will perform at Zankel Hall in April 2016; the program will include a Fifty for the Future commission to be announced. During that month, Kronos also will lead a week-long workshop with three young quartets, presented by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, focusing primarily on Fifty for the Future repertoire. The workshop will culminate in a public performance by the young ensembles at Zankel Hall.

For more information, visit

Fifty for the Future Lead Partner 

Carnegie Hall (New York, New York, USA)*

Legacy Partners

Aga Khan Music  Initiative (Geneva, Switzerland)*

Cal Performances University of California (Berkeley, California, USA)*

Cornish College  of the Arts (Seattle, Washington, USA)*

Harris Theater for Music and Dance (Chicago, Illinois, USA)*

Holland Festival (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)*

Kaufman Music Center’s Face the Music (New York, New York, USA)*

Krannert Center for the Performing Arts / University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign, Illinois,

New York University Abu Dhabi Arts Center (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)

Serious / Barbican (United Kingdom)*

Washington Performing Arts (Washington, DC, USA)*

Commissioning Partners

21C Music Festival at The Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto, Canada)

Philharmonic Society of Orange County (Irvine, California, USA)

Seattle Theatre Group (Seattle, Washington, USA)     

*KPAA Institutional Partners

About the Kronos Quartet

For more than 40 years, the Kronos Quartet — David Harrington (violin), John Sherba (violin),Hank Dutt (viola), and Sunny Yang (cello) — has combined 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 world’s most celebrated and influential ensembles, performing thousands of concerts worldwide, releasing more than 50 recordings, collaborating with many of the world’s most intriguing and accomplished composers and performers, and commissioning more than 850 works and arrangements for string quartet. A Grammy winner, Kronos is also the only recipient of both the Polar Music Prize and the Avery Fisher Prize.

Since 1973, Kronos has built a compellingly eclectic repertoire for string quartet, performing and recording works by 20th-century masters (Bartók, Schnittke), contemporary composers (John Adams, Aleksandra Vrebalov), jazz legends (Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk), rock artists (guitar legend Jimi Hendrix, Brazilian electronica artist Amon Tobin), and many others.

About Cornish College of the Arts

Cornish College of the Arts began in 1914 as Cornish School of Music, but the school quickly expanded to encourage cross-collaborations in the arts. Today, the college offers Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in Art, Dance, Design, Performance Production and Theater, a Bachelor of Music degree and an Artist Diploma in Early Music. The College is accredited by the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges, and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

The College’s main campus is located at South Lake Union, where it is currently adding a 20-story residence hall that will open in August 2015. The Art, Design, Film+Media Department, the Theater Department, and the Performance Production Department are located there. The Cornish also owns the historic Kerry Hall on Capitol Hill, where it has taught dance and music since the 1920s. This building also houses the PONCHO Concert Hall and the administrative offices of the Dance and Music Departments.

At the Seattle  Center, Cornish operates the Cornish Playhouse that was built for the 1962 World’s Fair and was previously occupied by Seattle Repertory Theatre and Intiman Theatre. Today the Cornish Playhouse and the Cornish Playhouse Studio serve as the home for many student productions as well as serving more than 30 nonprofits annually.