The Kronos Quartet have a long history of creating unique and visceral music for a variety of different platforms. Last week, the San Francisco based string quartet came to the Lena Horne Bandshell and performed their live documentary, A Thousand Thoughts for the Celebrate Brooklyn! summer series. Directed by Sam Green, the documentary chronicles the string quartet’s history, various member lineups, and takes a deeper look into the musical theories behind some of the group’s more iconic work.
The show began with Sam Green introducing the concept of the “live documentary” and how he went about convincing the group to take part. As the band took the stage, they also appeared one-by-one on the screen behind them as part of their interviews for the film. They each joked and seemed confused about the concept of performing music for a documentary live. As the show went on, the uniqueness of the presentation became more apparent. Seeing Dave Harrington and others talk about the music on screen while they were performing on stage in front of you truly gave you new perspective to the music.
Green talked about the persistence of natural music in our every day lives and even had the audience take a full minute to sit in silence and tune into our surroundings at the start of the show. Described as a “meditation on music itself-the act of listening closely to music, the experience of feeling music deeply” the film tends to focus on how the members of the group discovered various musical styles that caught their attention. Hank Dutt told a story about how he discovered throat singing from a CD he packed for a long international flight, becoming fixated on one song for the entire trip, and the urge to find that artist in order to learn more and collaborate.
The documentary began with a history of recorded music, including the first known audio recording called “The Lost Chord.” The presentation shifted between bits of interviews with the quartet members, anecdotes about the creation of some of their projects, and their perception as a “modern string quartet” that were breaking the rules and revolutionizing what a string quartet could be.
A Thousand Thoughts is only performed as a live documentary, and the screening for Celebrate Brooklyn! was the last scheduled performance this year. Alongside the interviews of the members quartet, the film also well known collaborators of the group such as Philip Glass, Laurie Anderson, Steve Reich, and more. The group has been performing since the premiere of the film in 2018, so keep an eye on their website for future screenings next year.