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Kronos Quartet Receives Asia Society's Cultural Achievement Award

  • Friday, November 20, 2009
    Kronos Quartet Receives Asia Society's Cultural Achievement Award

    Kronos Quartet was in New York City earlier this week to receive the Asia Society's Cultural Achievement Award during the organization's annual gala at the Waldorf Astoria hotel Tuesday night. Kronos was recognized for its efforts to link cultures and create a global cultural dialogue through music. Carnegie Hall's Director of Artistic Planning Jeremy Geffen presented the award to Kronos, and the group performed two pieces.

    New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg addressed the crowd, and the event, titled Couples Beyond Borders: Global Forces, also honored four influential couples from the US and Asia who, as individuals, are leaders in their communities and together make an inspiring force in the world: Ambassador Richard Holbrooke and human rights advocate Kati Marton, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and author Sheryl WuDunn, Blackstone Group Chairman Emeritus Pete Peterson and Sesame Street creator Joan Ganz Cooney, and Indian housing financier Deepak Parekh and his wife Smita Parekh, the director of Mahindra United World College of India.

    To mark Cooney's pivotal role at Sesame Street, that most distinguished Sesame resident Grover made a guest appearance at the event and, as luck would have it, shared a dressing room with Kronos Quartet. The Sesame Street connection comes just one week after Kronos helped celebrate the show's 40th anniversary by revisiting its appearance, which you can watch in the Nonesuch Journal.

    David Harrington, the Kronos Quartet violinist and artistic director, accepted the Cultural Achievement Award on the group's behalf. Below, courtesy of Kronos, are the remarks he gave:

    On behalf of the members of Kronos, our staff and our Board of Directors, I would like to thank the Asia Society, President Vishakha Desai and Chairman Charles Kaye for this great honor.  We are thrilled to share this evening with such a distinguished group of honorees, and we congratulate each of you.

    When I founded Kronos in 1973, I hoped to discover and perform music from all over the world: to bring as much of the world into our music as possible. Hank, John, Jeff and I have made this mission our life's work, having played thousands of concerts and having commissioned hundreds of new pieces. Kronos is based in San Francisco, but we tour for about 6 months every year. So we have been on the road for nearly 18 of the past 36 years. In our travels we have had the opportunity to meet and work with many amazing composers and performers, all who have helped expand the dimensions of our music. Several of our recent collaborators include:

    • Wu Man, from China. She is the princess of the Pipa, and she is one of the finest ambassadors of Chinese culture that I know.
    • Rahayu Supanggah, the fantastic multi-instrumentalist and composer from Java, has written eloquent music for Kronos.
    • The queen of Bollywood film soundtrack singers Asha Bhosle, from India has brought the magic of her voice to many of our recent concerts.
    • The innovative dancers and choreographers Eiko and Koma from Japan have created an incredible work which we perform with them.
    • And Homayoun Sakhi, Afghanistan's great rubab maestro, has written beautifully for us, and his performances are magnetic.

    We find very deep connections in these musical meetings. When we play music together, we meet as equals. These interactions with each other and with our audiences are musical negotiations. We attempt to bring disparate elements together, a powerful model in these troubling times. Sometimes we may not share a common language or even a common musical notation with our collaborators, but we can share something even more profound. We believe that performing together, listening to each other and finding ways to make new musical experiences together are critical parts of understanding each other. The music of the future has its seeds in what is created now.

    The Asia Society has an incredible legacy of cultural programs, performance and artistic exchange. The cultural work of this great organization is vital on a global level. Rachel Cooper, Asia Society's Director of Cultural Programs and Performing Arts is one of our most treasured colleagues. It is admirable that the Asia Society continues to place such high value on artists, and artistic exchange. We hope other organizations follow the leadership provided by the Asia Society.

    Our most sincere thanks for this great honor.

on November 19, 2009 - 7:26pm
Excerpt: 

Kronos Quartet was in New York City earlier this week to receive the Asia Society's Cultural Achievement Award at the organization's annual gala at the Waldorf Astoria hotel Tuesday night. Kronos was recognized for its efforts to link cultures and create a global cultural dialogue through music. Among the night's honorees were Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, and Sesame Street creator Joan Ganz Cooney.

Copy: 

Kronos Quartet was in New York City earlier this week to receive the Asia Society's Cultural Achievement Award during the organization's annual gala at the Waldorf Astoria hotel Tuesday night. Kronos was recognized for its efforts to link cultures and create a global cultural dialogue through music. Carnegie Hall's Director of Artistic Planning Jeremy Geffen presented the award to Kronos, and the group performed two pieces.

New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg addressed the crowd, and the event, titled Couples Beyond Borders: Global Forces, also honored four influential couples from the US and Asia who, as individuals, are leaders in their communities and together make an inspiring force in the world: Ambassador Richard Holbrooke and human rights advocate Kati Marton, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and author Sheryl WuDunn, Blackstone Group Chairman Emeritus Pete Peterson and Sesame Street creator Joan Ganz Cooney, and Indian housing financier Deepak Parekh and his wife Smita Parekh, the director of Mahindra United World College of India.

To mark Cooney's pivotal role at Sesame Street, that most distinguished Sesame resident Grover made a guest appearance at the event and, as luck would have it, shared a dressing room with Kronos Quartet. The Sesame Street connection comes just one week after Kronos helped celebrate the show's 40th anniversary by revisiting its appearance, which you can watch in the Nonesuch Journal.

David Harrington, the Kronos Quartet violinist and artistic director, accepted the Cultural Achievement Award on the group's behalf. Below, courtesy of Kronos, are the remarks he gave:

On behalf of the members of Kronos, our staff and our Board of Directors, I would like to thank the Asia Society, President Vishakha Desai and Chairman Charles Kaye for this great honor.  We are thrilled to share this evening with such a distinguished group of honorees, and we congratulate each of you.

When I founded Kronos in 1973, I hoped to discover and perform music from all over the world: to bring as much of the world into our music as possible. Hank, John, Jeff and I have made this mission our life's work, having played thousands of concerts and having commissioned hundreds of new pieces. Kronos is based in San Francisco, but we tour for about 6 months every year. So we have been on the road for nearly 18 of the past 36 years. In our travels we have had the opportunity to meet and work with many amazing composers and performers, all who have helped expand the dimensions of our music. Several of our recent collaborators include:

  • Wu Man, from China. She is the princess of the Pipa, and she is one of the finest ambassadors of Chinese culture that I know.
  • Rahayu Supanggah, the fantastic multi-instrumentalist and composer from Java, has written eloquent music for Kronos.
  • The queen of Bollywood film soundtrack singers Asha Bhosle, from India has brought the magic of her voice to many of our recent concerts.
  • The innovative dancers and choreographers Eiko and Koma from Japan have created an incredible work which we perform with them.
  • And Homayoun Sakhi, Afghanistan's great rubab maestro, has written beautifully for us, and his performances are magnetic.

We find very deep connections in these musical meetings. When we play music together, we meet as equals. These interactions with each other and with our audiences are musical negotiations. We attempt to bring disparate elements together, a powerful model in these troubling times. Sometimes we may not share a common language or even a common musical notation with our collaborators, but we can share something even more profound. We believe that performing together, listening to each other and finding ways to make new musical experiences together are critical parts of understanding each other. The music of the future has its seeds in what is created now.

The Asia Society has an incredible legacy of cultural programs, performance and artistic exchange. The cultural work of this great organization is vital on a global level. Rachel Cooper, Asia Society's Director of Cultural Programs and Performing Arts is one of our most treasured colleagues. It is admirable that the Asia Society continues to place such high value on artists, and artistic exchange. We hope other organizations follow the leadership provided by the Asia Society.

Our most sincere thanks for this great honor.

Publish date: 
Friday, November 20, 2009 - 10:00
Article Type: 
featuredimage: 
Kronos Quartet Asia Society 2009-1117

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