Kronos Notes (Part 1): Tashweesh + Oasisposted on February 4th, 2010 by Peak Performances
Kronos Quartet comes to the Alexander Kasser Theater on Sunday afternoon as part of an exciting weekend of music. Kronos will play selections from their new recording, Floodplain, in a program that’s exclusive to New Jersey. We’re looking forward to their visit! In preparation, over the next several days, we’ll be posting notes (courtesy of Kronos management) corresponding to the pieces they’ll be playing this Sunday.
One of the pieces that I’m most excited about is “Tashweesh,” which according to its program note (more below), was written by a collective known as Ramallah Underground, specifically for Kronos, after David Harrington noticed their music on Myspace and got in touch with them. The members of Ramallah Underground identify primarily as MCs and producers, but this work for Kronos is a fervently contemporary pairing of string instrument and recorded sound. Check it out on Kronos’ Web site.
Then join us for what promises to be an extraordinary weekend!
By Ramallah Underground
Arranged by Jacob Garchik (b. 1976)
Ramallah Underground (RU) is a musical collective, based in Ramallah, Palestine, attempting to rejuvenate Arabic culture through their music. RU was founded by artists Boikutt, Stormtrap, and Aswatt. They produce music ranging from hip hop to trip hop to down tempo. The members started off as producers; Boikutt and Stormtrap later picked up the mic and began to MC in Arabic, which added a political layer to the music. Their work comes out of a deep sense of their local culture and imposing presence of Palestine in their lives.
The members of RU, as producers and as MCs, have collaborated and performed with artists across the globe, from Lebanon, United Kingdom, Switzerland, United States, France, The Netherlands, and other countries. RU has also performed live shows in Ramallah, Bethlehem, Vienna, London, Cairo, Lausanne, Brussels, Amsterdam, and Washington, DC. In recent live performances, RU has incorporated a visual set, created by Palestinian visual artist Ruanne. RU’s express hope is to give a voice to Palestinians and Arabs, bringing an alternative voice from the Arab world.
About Tashweesh, David Harrington of the Kronos Quartet writes:
“I first heard Ramallah Underground on MySpace. Their sound was distinctive, and they seemed very interesting as a group. They were open to the world of music. I began an email correspondence with them, and found that one member lived in Palestine, another in Vienna and the third in Dubai. I sent them a bunch of Kronos CDs and in exchange they sent me a lot of their music. After I had spent a lot of time with their work, I felt it would be great if they would write for Kronos. ‘Tashweesh’ is the result.”
Trombonist and composer Jacob Garchik, born in San Francisco, has lived in New York since 1994. Since 2006 Jacob has contributed arrangements and transcriptions for the Kronos Quartet of music from all over the world. An active freelance trombonist, he plays with groups including the Lee Konitz New Nonet, the Ohad Talmor/Steve Swallow Sextet, Slavic Soul Party, the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble, and the Four Bags. He has also worked with composers George Lewis, Joe Maneri, Anthony Braxton, Anthony Coleman, and James Tenney; choreographers Yoshiko Chuma and Anita Cheng; and the Theatre of a Two-headed Calf. His second, independently released CD, Romance, was hailed by Ben Ratliff in the New York Times as “odd and excellent…taut with paradox…slow and beautiful art songs.” He has recorded for Piranha, Omnitone, Fresh Sound New Talent, NCM East, Tzadik, New World, and Palmetto. Garchik also plays accordion, bass trombone, tuba, computer, and piano.
Kronos’ recording of Ramallah Underground’s “Tashweesh,” arranged by Jacob Garchik, is available on Floodplain, released by Nonesuch Records.
Note courtesy of the Kronos Quartet.
By Franghiz Ali-Zadeh (b. 1947)
Franghiz Ali-Zadeh was born in Azerbaijan, a republic of the Soviet States. She first came to prominence as a composer and performer while still a student of the celebrated composer Kara Karayev. Ali-Zadeh is highly regarded for her creativity and distinctive style. Her compositions draw from the vocabulary of modern European classical music, including the Second Viennese School, and incorporate the sounds of mugham (the main modal unit of Arabic music), music traditional to Azerbaijan. As a pianist, she performs at international festivals, playing programs that include the works of Crumb, Messiaen, and Schoenberg, composers she has popularized for Eastern audiences. She is recognized as a master interpreter of works by 20th-century European and American composers, the Soviet avant-garde, and traditional Azerbaijani composers.
About “Oasis,” Ali-Zadeh writes:
“An oasis is a quiet place of refuge, which everyone dreams about when weary from life’s tumults. It is a land of repose, beauty, and prosperity. Travelers in particular dream about oases, exhausted from the intense heat in the endless desert. Most of all they dream of water—clean, cold, crystalline water! They see water in their dreams—in the form of brooks and fountains, drops and waterfalls. It murmurs to them in their ears and falls in a stream onto their heads, cleansing their bodies and souls, bringing them coolness and bliss. The travelers dream about shady trees and crimson roses, about delicacies which beautiful women will bring to them. They dream about hearing the mellifluous singing of the ‘Gazelles’ of love again (a ‘Gazelle’ is a poetic form of a mugam; it is based on a specific structure of classical Azerbaijani love poems). But to reach this blessed land, this ‘El Dorado,’ is not so easy. Tests still await the travelers: There is a long road, full of dangers and agitations.”
Franghiz Ali-Zadeh’s “Oasis” appears on the 2005 Nonesuch release Mugam Sayagi: Music of Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, which includes several of the composer’s works commissioned for Kronos.
Note courtesy of the Kronos Quartet.