Q&A: Kronos Quartet Founder David Harrington On Collaborating With Philip Glass

What do you think about getting to play Glass's music while Glass is alive?

I think about Schubert. Most of his music wasn't played in his life, and one of his greatest pieces, the Schubert C Major Quintet, was written in the last month of his life, and it was kept in a cupboard for 36 years after his death. I remember telling someone the other day how much poorer the world would be without that one piece.

To me, that one piece is one of the greatest human documents there is. I am so glad that Philip, at a young age, that he decided that he was going to start his own ensemble, and that he was going to be a performer composer, which is something in a lot of ways has been lost in western society. Composers were, before the late '60s and early '70s, the composers all handed their music to performers. A lot of times they lost the feeling for what it was to be on stage and to play for an audience. That's one thing that's very dramatically clear in Philip's music. He knows what it's like to be on stage. To put Philip's music together in a rehearsal setting, and to be aware of what it takes to assemble a new piece, that's a very important detail, I think it needs to be said.

I'm really looking forward to Philip's next piece for Kronos, which will be the sixth string quartet. He will be writing it [this year]. After all of the experiences we've had together over the years, I just know that the String Quaret No. 6 will point us in the direction that all of these experience point to. I don't know what else to say. I'm really looking forward to it.

Thank you for your time and thanks for sharing. By the way, I recently bought a record player, and I have been digging your Bill Evans album and playing it a couple times a week.

Oh, thank you. Vinyl rocks!

Yes, and it's exactly the kind of album that really shows how wonderful LPs are.

Previous articles in our series on Philip Glass's 75th birthday:
Philip Glass, An East Village Voice (February 1 cover story)
Live: The Premiere of Glass's Symphony No. 9 at Carnegie Hall
Happy (Happy Happy) 75th Birthday, Philip Glass, From South Park

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