It’s likely to be the hottest ticket in town this summer - the visit of the Rolling Stones of classical music, the Kronos Quartet, for an intimate concert in the Great Hall in Magee College in Derry next month.
The California-based quartet, who have played the world’s most prestigious concert venues, are taking part in the Walled City Festival at the invitations of its directors, Derry-born pianist Cathal Breslin and his wife, the flautist Sabrina Hu.
And their concert here will attract further attention because they’re including in their programme the new piece WTC 9/11, a musical meditation on the attack on the Twin Towers by the man regarded as the leading contemporary composer in the US, Steve Reich.
Cathal said; “The Kronos Quartet have played in venues which can hold thousands of people, so it’s pretty amazing to get them here to Derry to play to around 200 people. Sabrina knows one of the quartet members and she was able to explain to them what we’re trying to do with this festival in this city, and they’re coming along in support of that.
“It’s a real coup for the festival, taken with the fact that we also have one of the major stars in classical music, Sir James Galway, with his wife Jeanne, coming to the Forum, and a real exciting programme overall. It’s certainly going to turn a lot of attention Derry’s way in terms of the classical music world on these islands, and we hope we can build on that.”
Founded back in 1973, the Kronos Quartet have performed around the world and have almost forty studio albums to their credit. They’ve worked with many of the leading composers and a trademark is their collaborations across musical genres and the arts generally - they’ve worked with everyone from Allen Ginsberg to Tom Waits to Texas yodeler Don Walser.
They’ve also embraced multi-media presentations, and usually travel with tech personnel and have a long ‘tech spec’ for their gigs. WTC 9/11, which is a 15 minute piece, features voice and other recordings related to the September 11 attacks, including recordings from the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the New York City Fire Department (FDNY), as well as parts of interviews with friends and neighbors of composer Steve Reich who lived in Manhattan at the time of the attacks.