Arts Leadership program kicks off with Kronos Quartet concert

“Society, as a whole, needs the voice of the artist in the conversation."


The University of Southern California will launch its new Arts Leadership Program (ARTL) on Thursday, April 24, with an evening lecture and performance by Kronos Quartet, one of the world’s most innovative performance ensembles.

The group will join ARTL program director Kenneth Foster, former executive director of San Francisco’s acclaimed Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, in a discussion on artistic vision and ideology behind creating new work.

According to Foster, the ensemble perfectly embodies the ethos of the ARTL program, due largely in part to Kronos Quartet’s longstanding commitment to create new standards for contemporary chamber music performance.

“Kronos Quartet has, since the beginning, been an innovative leader in the arts,” said Foster. “They’ve always examined their particular art form and how it functions in the contemporary world. Kronos continues to break new ground, more than any other ensemble I can think of.”

Formed in 1973, the Kronos Quartet is regarded as the most successful new music group in the world. Over 750 works have been written for the ensemble during its existence, including pieces by well-known figures in the world of minimalist composition such as Terry Riley and Philip Glass. Kronos Quartet has also been an outspoken champion of young and undiscovered composers, and created the Under 30 Project specifically aimed at commissioning works by composers under the age of 30.

“They were one of the first to think about the visual aspect of a chamber music ensemble,” Foster explained. “They’re on the cutting edge of the way things are changing, and they’re also the one’s responsible for driving that change to begin with.”

Although Foster’s discussion with the Kronos Quartet is framed by the ever-changing world of arts organization, he believes that group’s views on their performance practice are important for all audience members to hear — even for those who have no ties to the art world.

ARTL program director Ken Foster. (Photo: Mike Kepka, SFC)

ARTL program director Ken Foster. (Photo: Mike Kepka, SFC)

“Society, as a whole, needs the voice of the artist in the conversation,” Foster said. “Artists help us see possibility and create meaning in our lives. If you’re not an artist, it’s really important to participate in dialog with artists. Doing so allows you to you, perhaps, change your politics or rethink your own participation in the world.”

The Kronos Quartet performance also serves as a kick-off for the first annual Arts Leadership Symposium, which will be held on the USC campus from April 24 through April 26.

On Friday, April 25, arts leaders are invited to a daylong symposium on the challenges facing arts in the 21st century. Featured speakers will include: Janet Cowperthwaite, managing director, Kronos Quartet; David Harrington, artistic director, Kronos Quartet; Mark Allen, founder and director, The Machine Project Los Angeles; and Chris Rountree, founder and director, Wild Up.

The symposium concludes on Saturday, April 26 with ARTL Live! — a program designed for individuals interested in applying to the ARTL graduate degree program.

“What we’re doing with this program is helping artists and arts leaders embrace new ways of thinking about art in a world that’s changing pretty dramatically,” said Foster. “Both the present and future require individuals who are open to developing new models of arts leadership in order for the arts to survive.”

Admission to the concert and symposium is free. RSVPs are required.

For more information on the ARTL program and the Arts Leadership Symposium, please visit the Arts Leadership website.

TAGS: Arts Leadership, Research and Scholarly Studies,

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