The Kronos Quartet operates in a league far out of Earlham’s reach—the venues that the group
are scheduled to perform in during the remainder of their tour are some of the world’s most
renowned, including Carnegie Hall and Zaryadye Concert Hall in Moscow, a music venue that
Time Magazine included in their 2018 list of ‘World’s Greatest Places.’
Earlham alum, Josh Penn (class of 2006) can be thanked for the visit by the elite ensemble.
Penn is the Executive Producer of their project “A Thousand Thoughts: A Live Documentary
with Kronos Quartet,” a program that is meant to give the audience a personalized experience
to the documentary.
The performance was just as the title suggests; the live documentary had a live narrator, the
motion picture displayed in the background was accompanied with a live editor, who was
interrupted from time to time by interviews in the documentary. The soundtrack was played live
to the audience by the band.
Penn described the intention of the live documentary as a remark against the fast-paced
technology-based society we live in. “Everything is available with just a few clicks; this is
something that literally only exists if you’re one of the people that chose to be in the room that
day. It won’t be the same if you go see it a different day.”
The quartet’s use of their platform to expound artistic statements that stray from the
conventional is not unprecedented. In fact, their use of unconventionality is what pulled them to
the spotlight. They came together as a group for the first time in 1973, just around the peak of
weird experimental clothing— the era of glam rock. They hopped on the wave, sporting Bowie-
esque spandex suits, and other brightly colored gear.
Their real breakthrough, however, came after their fame—once they made it onto the scene as
a force to be reckoned with — they were given far greater creative opportunities. Their
collaborative efforts expanded significantly, as they found themselves performing with people
from every corner of the world.
They championed the idea that music is a peacemaker—the power of music brought the group
together, then brought them together with people from all walks of life. It brought them to
celebrate difference and showed them that within those difference, unity can still be found.