Performed by Grammy Winning Kronos Quartet
(October 28, 2011, Berkeley, CA) Technology embraces tradition with the premier of “Polar Suite,” the world’s first string quartet composed for and performed with K-Bow, a Bluetooth Sensor Bow designed by Berkeley based Keith McMillen Instruments (KMI). Kronos will perform “Polar Suite” by Douglas Quin at Syracuse University, College of Visual and Performing Arts on November 9, 2011 at 8pm, as part of the Kronos weeklong residency.
Composed by Quin, hailed as the “Audubon of Audio” by the Washington Post, “Polar Suite” integrates the sounds of traditional instruments processed with captured sounds all controlled by movements of KMI’s K-Bow. K-Bow is a Kevlar and graphite bow that seamlessly integrates sensors and CPUs with the feel of a traditional violin bow. “Polar Suite” brings together violin, viola, cello, digitally processed samples and interactive electronics controlled by the K-Bow.
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In developing this new work, Kronos Quartet founder David Harrington shared his excitement, “This is an opportunity to essentially relearn our instruments and to transform how we approach live performance. “Polar Suite,” is a very different kind of string quartet and an extraordinary sonic adventure–thanks in large part to the K-bow and what is now possible!”
“The bow itself has the feel and balance of a fine bow. One literally has the power to control and manipulate sound at their fingertips with virtually no disruption to the technical act of playing their instrument. It really is the coolest thing that I have ever seen,” said Jeffrey Zeigler, cellist for Kronos Quartet.
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Keith McMillen has been a pioneer in electronic and computer music for over 30 years. His instruments and inventions have been used by artists like Laurie Anderson, Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin. He invented the first programmable audio mixer and the Zeta violin, the gold standard for electric stringed instruments.
“Working with Kronos is the culmination of five years refining K-Bow. Douglas Quin’s demanding need for rapidly changing timbres and the incredible insights Kronos has into sound and beauty helps push technology to a level where it becomes secondary to the music it creates. New instruments should enable truly original music. When an instrument excels and merges with a great performer, an experience exceeding both can be achieved,” says McMillen, who has hand-made over 100 sensor bows to finally satisfy these demands.
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Composer Douglas Quin said, “K-bow is an extraordinary and visionary invention in every sense. Keith’s passion for strings shines through in the detail and elegance of the bow’s design: packing in as much technology and punch as possible without losing sight of the feel of a traditional bow. As a composer the possibilities are endless and I finally have an opportunity to create what I have been conceiving in my mind’s ear.”
About Kronos Quartet
A non-profit organization based in San Francisco, the Kronos Quartet/Kronos Performing Arts Association is committed to mentoring emerging musicians and composers, and to creating, performing, and recording new works.
About Douglas Quin
Douglas Quin is a sound designer, naturalist, public radio commentator, and music composer. Quin is currently an Associate Professor in the Television, Radio and Film Department at Syracuse University.
About Keith McMillen Instruments
Keith McMillen Instruments (KMI) is a private company based in Berkeley, CA developing innovative software and hardware technology that connects and controls applications in the music, computer, video, gaming, ergonomic and assistive technology industries.