50 For The Future:
The Kronos Learning
“In writing Knock for Kronos and specifically for their Fifty for the Future project, I reflected on my years playing in the group and all the string techniques I learned working with them.
“We were using our instruments in ways we weren't taught in music school. Yet we were always trying to embody the same basic principles of creating the best sound warranted and needed to express the composer's ideas. Whether it was a crunching sound produced by applying intense pressure on the string (that we had spent years trying to avoid!) or the most delicate of pizzicatos produced by caressing the string with the flesh of the thumb, we were always discovering the sounds our instruments could produce and the best way to do so. There was always a new piece with new ideas that we strived to execute and bring to life. Each composer brought challenges to express their ideas in sound and music.
“Learning how to execute and express all these challenges opened an immense world of different approaches to the sound world of our instruments. It is impossible to encompass all these ideas in one piece, so instead I have picked moments that have influenced me and seamlessly entered into my work as composer.
“Also I was inspired thinking about all the ‘hard knocks’ we encountered together over the years, but how the music kept us going.”
Composer Joan Jeanrenaud is joined by Kronos violinist John Sherba and cellist Sunny Yang to demonstrate and discuss key techniques for Knock.
Joan Jeanrenaud discusses her musical background, her history with Kronos, the piece she wrote for Fifty for the Future, and more.
Cellist and composer Joan Jeanrenaud has been involved in music for over 40 years. Growing up in Memphis, Tennessee, she was exposed to the sounds of the blues, Elvis, soul, folk, and classical music. She learned to play her instrument from cellists Peter Spurbeck, Fritz Magg, and Pierre Fournier, studied jazz with David Baker and Joe Henderson, and worked with Kronos Quartet as cellist for 20 years. Now for the past 18 years she has been involved with projects in composition, improvisation, electronics, and multi-disciplinary performance. She has completed more than 70 compositions for cello and small ensembles, many of these multi-media works. Her compositions and recordings are featured in many films, most recently scoring the documentary Born This Way.
Other projects include her installation work ARIA with collaborator Alessandro Moruzzi, which premiered at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and Second Time Around, the composition, collaboration, performances, and recording with storyteller Charlie Varon and dramaturge David Ford. Her CD, Strange Toys, released on the Talking House label in 2008, was nominated for a Grammy, and her most recent releases, Pop-Pop, Visual Music, and Second Time Around, appear on her own record label, Deconet Records.
Joan is very, very special in Kronos' lives. She was our cellist for 20 years and had such a large influence on Kronos itself. Her piece is like a learning tool of different techniques that Kronos developed throughout the years—there are little glimpses of Górecki and Shostakovich and others throughout—and if you get it right, then you can understand more about the Kronos sound."