Candra Rini is a Javanese composer, poet, educator, and one of few contemporary vocalists performing sindhen, a female soloist style of singing rooted in Indonesia’s rich musical culture. Deeply committed to preserving and celebrating the musical traditions of her homeland, her contribution to Kronos Fifty for the Future was her 2020 composition Maduswara, a work designed to bring attention to sindhen and to encourage this new generation of vocalists to “realize their duty as the conveyor of the universal values of life.” She has long admired the quartet (who performed Maduswara for their December 2021 concert at Cal Performances), and shared that their previous collaboration was a “dream.” Her newest piece will explore the precarity of the composer’s native Indonesia as one of the most volcanically and seismically active regions on earth—a region that is also increasingly vulnerable to climate change. In a nod to cultural preservation, the piece will include shadow puppets, original artwork, and field recordings inspired by various musical environments and cultures across the archipelago.
The other new composition on the program is a work by the innovative Michael Gordon, co-artistic director of New York’s legendary music collective Bang on a Can and a longtime friend of the quartet. His past collaborations with Kronos have included Clouded Yellow, a full album Kronos released in 2018 that plays to the group’s hallmark “experimentation with electronics, clashing layers, and disorienting rhythmic patterns”; and, most recently, his work Campaign Songs, which consists of arrangements from the canon of American patriotic, political, and folk music aimed at galvanizing voter turnout for the 2020 presidential election. Gordon, who came from Nicaragua to live in the US at age 8, has been composing works since he was a student at Miami Beach High School. Over his 30+ years creating music, he has developed a singular style of experimentation with various sound textures—an affinity he and the members of Kronos have in common. For his KRONOS Five Decades commission, Gordon takes Haydn’s scherzos as inspiration to create a modular suite of minute-long pieces, with the aim of bringing humor, fun, and laughter to Kronos’ concert.