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David Harrington, Collector of Notes

"I'm a collector of notes. When I hear the notes of a composer I've never heard before, I'm looking for magic."

David Harrington

David Harrington is an adventurous listener and avid music fan. He is also the violinist and founder of the Kronos Quartet, one of the most influential and important ensembles of our time.

This afternoon, during a Chan Centre Connects talk for students hosted by the UBC School of Music and moderated by composition professor Dr. Keith Hamel, he spoke about getting hooked on working with composers and playing new music at the young age of 16 and how that passion drives him still. “I’m a collector of notes,” he explains. “When I hear the notes of a composer I’ve never heard before, I’m looking for magic.”

Since the forming of the Kronos Quartet 40 years ago, he’s been intimately involved with programming and choosing repertoire for the ensemble. A skilled musician with open ears and an open mind, Harrington ‘just knows’ when he stumbles across a piece that’s right for Kronos. “When I can’t stop listening, I don’t have any choice,” he says, “Kronos has to play it. That’s all there is to it.”

The Kronos at 40 celebrates the anniversary of the ensemble with the world premiere of String Quartet No. 6 by Philip Glass, co-comissioned by the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts in the Faculty of Arts at UBC.

When asked by one of the attendees where the ensemble is going next, Harrington replied “my ears are currently going South of the U.S. …there’s so much to learn about the music there.”

Sat Oct 19, 2013