Kronos Quartet «Sun Rings» 2002.
Sun Rings, 2002.
The multimedia production Sun Rings is based on sounds of space collected by University of Iowa Prof. Don Gurnett over a 40-year period. Sun Rings, written by longtime Kronos collaborator Terry Riley, is an evening-length work in 10 movements.
With visual design by Willie Williams, lighting design by Larry Neff and sound design by Mark Grey, Sun Rings is a multimedia production featuring a choir and both sounds and images from space. The piece, commissioned for Kronos by NASA and others, received its first performance at the University of Iowa's Hancher Auditorium in October 2002, and has since been performed in cities including London, San Francisco, Calgary, Tucson and Boston.
Says Terry Riley, «Space is surely the realm of dreams and imagination and a fertile feeding ground for poets and musicians. Ancient astrologers were aware of the significant influences of planetary movements on our lives. I feel these influences are somehow responsible for this amazing collaboration which has been so enthusiastically undertaken by all the participants responsible for its outcome. Do the stars welcome us into their realms? I think so or we would not have made it this far. Do they wish us to come in Peace? I am sure of it.»
Photographs by Zoran Orlic.
Review - Chicago Sun: It was not only the sounds of Kronos' resonant instruments, the voices of Glen Ellyn's New Classic Singers and the mysteriously muted rumbles, squawks and whistles from outer space that made Sun Rings so intriguing. Stunning visuals by Willie Williams, who has worked with U2, R.E.M., David Bowie and the Rolling Stones, also supplied a strong dose of magic. Though they turned unexpectedly prosaic in the last of Sun Rings 10 movements, Williams' designs seemed to propel us literally into the realm beyond Jupiter. Ranging from constantly moving, black-and-white images of physics equations that seemed to float across a cosmic blackboard to more abstract, stunningly rich reds, oranges and yellows of a planet spinning and melting into a cold, dark sky, they reflected and greatly enriched Riley's score. Symphony orchestras and chamber ensembles looking for a way to add visuals to their concerts would be wise to catch a performance of Sun Rings. First performed in 2002, Sun Rings is a rare example of what can happen when top minds in different fields are willing to think outside their respective boxes. In 2000, officials of the NASA Art Program asked the always adventurous Kronos Quartet to incorporate into a musical work sounds from outer space that had been collected over 40 years. Kronos, in turn, approached noted composer Terry Riley, who has been on the cutting edge of composition since the early 1960s when his masterpiece, In C, turned musical minimalism into a full-blown movement. Williams was fascinated by the chance to create images inspired by NASA's vast archive of extraterrestrial photos.