the ‘avant-garde’ contemporary ‘classical’ string quartet, Kronos, commissions compositions by composers from all around the world who are not well known in the rest of the world, giving them exposure. a model of cultural production, i think. those with the means supporting those without, and by mixing, defying canons. most of the BIG questions raised first by the so called poststructurlist philosophers in France in the 60s and 70s, which caused a cultural upheaval in the rest of Europe, the US, and throughout the world, which led to what since then became the troubled territory of ‘cultural studies’, multiculturalism, identity politics, and the like. several lines of thought from that critical philosophical tradition converge in kronos, intentionally: authorship, translation, and collaboration, even networks and who mobilizes them, and how, and why. yet, while the troubled territories named above have been systematically erased in universities under neoliberalism in the US, the UK and the EU, though ID politics continues to take various problematic forms that has led according to some to ‘tribalism’, and many of the proponents of the british school of marxist cultural studies have rejected the academic study they founded [stuart hall, gayatri spivak and others], because in the US it became depoliticized – somehow, Kronos has never been blighted and has continued to operate in the absolute best sense of an ‘enlightened’ pan-cultural, globalization through it’s patronage and commissioning practices. perhaps that’s because their medium is non-linguistic… they would be the first to suggest that this is because of the influence of terry riley, and they do suggest that below, on their own world musical views. in the following performance, no qualitative difference is made between composer/musicians from different countries, styles, time periods, or identity formations. there is no tribalism.
Escalay, composed by the Sudanese musician, Hamza el Din, 1989, one of my personal all time favorite pieces of music, has all the same or similar attributes of ‘greatness’ as Piazzolla or Bach, or a work by Lori Anderson, or a classical work by the Russian/German composer, Alfred Schnittke, or Mexican composer Gabriella Ortiz (Altar de Muertos, 1997), or even, Jimmy Hendrix (though not their best cover… sometimes stripping the ‘voice’ out to make it an instrumental simply bastardizes a work… not to mention the performative ‘habitus’ of a time period)
Gabriella Ortiz, Altar de Muertos, beyond Kronos
and, just to put things in perspective: a model for what? a track from the cult band, The Residents, whom i’ve interviewed, even though they had a 40 year career wearing masks on stage in order to keep themselves anonymous, which they are, mostly, to this day. would Kronos cover the Residents? Why Hendrix but not them? [yes, that is tom waits singing/performing in the skull mask on the first video below]
one of the first bands to ‘mask’ themselves in what is now a dominant visual paradigm: animation that represents not princesses and other royalty, a la disney, but the poor:
well, take your pick: