Kronos Quartet and Terry Riley collaborate again

Following the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, Kronos Quartet have released a video for Beebopterismo, a track from Sun Rings in collaboration with composer Terry Riley.

The first recording of the 2002 piece, which was commissioned in part by the NASA Art Program, includes plasma waves recorded from NASA spacecrafts, including the Voyager 1 and 2 probes. The piece will be released on Nonesuch Records at the end of August.

The video which was edited by Robert Edridge-Waks, features footage from Willie Williams’ visual design for the staged multimedia production of the piece, which has been performed by Kronos nearly 50 times in 11 countries.

Kronos’ artistic director, founder and violinist, David Harrington arranged a meeting with University of Iowa physics professor Don Gurnett. Gurnett developed the plasma wave instrument that received the ‘space sounds’.

Harrington said: “I instantly knew Terry should be the composer to bring them into our work. Eventually this led to all sorts of sonic adventures in Don’s office.”

Riley has worked with Kronos for over 20 years, beginning with the composer’s Sunrise of the Planetary Dream Collector. Together they have created 27 works for string quartet, including a Concerto for Strings, The Sands, The Cusp of Magic and an album by Kronos Quartet Cadenza on the Night Plain which features a collection of music by Riley.

“I began to listen to see what kid of musical element could be buried deep within the spectrum of their mostly, raw, grainy sound.” Riley said of his time composing with the NASA space recordings. “There was a wide variety of sonic textures and frequencies of the different samples, often resembling both natural and synthesised sounds found here on Earth.”

Riley will turn 85 on 24 June 2020 and Kronos will celebrate his birthday throughout the coming season. Kronos will play Sun Rings in its entirety at Washington Performing Arts on 13 March 2020.