Kronos Quartet's David Harrington on Glass as Leader

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

For 30 years, the music of Philip Glass has played a large and vital role in the work of Kronos Quartet. His "Mishima" was our very first film soundtrack recording. The only concert we ever played in a graveyard was with Philip in Spain. It was Philip who introduced us to Foday Musa Suso, the great kora player from Gambia. We played "Dracula" together in Canada on the horrifying night that Al Gore won the election and then didn't. Then...

It's hard to imagine the American musical landscape without his music. His influence is indisputable. There are many who follow in his wake and there are others who react against him. That is, after all, what it means to be a leader.

I remember him saying about his early years, "If Stockhausen went right, then I went left." That is the most vitriolic thing I've ever heard him say about another composer. It's wonderful and inspiring how supportive he is of young musicians.

I always love to put together a new piece of Philip's with him there. He is so open to our ideas and appreciative of the role and the work of performers. We are very excited about his next piece for Kronos. His String Quartet No. 6 will certainly be the result of years of working together.

Philip surrounds himself with amazing associates. Who better than Michael Riesman to help realize his musical ideas? Who better than Linda Brumbach and Pomegranate to produce his live performances? And who better than Dennis Russell Davies to champion so many of his big pieces. They and the Philip Glass Ensemble continue to keep pushing the bar higher for concert events. His team is an inspiration for anyone attempting anything similar.

So I want to take this opportunity to thank Philip Glass for his beautiful additions to Kronos's repertoire, his amazing body of work, his youthful and adventurous spirit and for his unfailing belief in the value of music for our society.

Adapted from an essay originally published in Glass Box: A Nonesuch Retrospective, © 2008 Nonesuch Records Inc.

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