For more than 40 years, San Francisco's Kronos Quartet—David Harrington and John Sherba (violins), Hank Dutt (viola), and Sunny Yang (cello)—has combined a spirit of fearless exploration with a commitment to continually re-imagine the string quartet experience. In the process, Kronos has become one of the world's most celebrated and influential ensembles, performing thousands of concerts, releasing more than sixty recordings, collaborating with many of the world's most eclectic composers and performers, and commissioning more than 900 works and arrangements for string quartet. Kronos is the recipient of more than 40 awards, including the Polar Music Prize and the Avery Fisher Prize. Last season, a five-year initiative, Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire, began commissioning new works designed to train students and emerging professionals; the pieces are distributed online for free. Kronos has had a close relationship with Nonesuch since 1985, when the group recorded Philip Glass' soundtrack to Mishima. Nonesuch has since released forty-seven albums by Kronos, including Pieces of Africa (1992), a showcase of African-born composers; Nuevo (2002), a celebration of Mexican culture; and the 2004 Grammy winner, Alban Berg's Lyric Suite, featuring Dawn Upshaw—as well as motion picture soundtracks such as Requiem for a Dream and albums dedicated to composers including Glass, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, Henryk Gorecki, and Astor Piazzolla, among others.
When Nonesuch Records celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014, with festivals at London's Barbican Centre and New York's Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Kronos Quartet joined forces with four labelmates—Sam Amidon, Olivia Chaney, Rhiannon Giddens, and Natalie Merchant—to perform a concert entitled Folk Songs. The group later recorded the songs, most of which are traditional with contemporary arrangements, with Doug Petty as the album's producer. (Nonesuch)