A Thousand Thoughts
A Live Documentary with the Kronos Quartet
Written & Directed by Sam Green & Joe Bini
No ensemble has had the same impact on the string quartet’s repertoire and popular image as San Francisco’s Kronos Quartet has had since the 1970s, when David Harrington heard George Crumb’s avant-garde electric string quartet, Black Angels, and felt called to form an ensemble to champion such audacious new music.
The Grammy-winning quartet now comprised of violinists Harrington and John Sherba, violist Hank Dutt, and cellist Sunny Yang went has sought far and wide for new musical wellsprings—working with Inuk throat-singer Tanya Tagaq, or the Chinese pipa player Wu Man—to refresh the old reservoir. Meanwhile, they’ve commissioned some 1,000 new works from all the major minimalists and many young up-and-comers. In four decades of prolific, high-stakes artistry, they have proposed that the contemporary string quartet can be a Mexican folk band, an experimental unit, a jazz combo, a pop commodity, a rock image, a literary vessel, and a fount of film soundtracks—why, then, couldn’t it be a documentary?
That question is answered when the Kronos comes together with the Oscar-nominated filmmaker Sam Green to perform A Thousand Thoughts, a live documentary that gives a chronological account of one of new music’s definitive careers. Much as he did with the band Yo La Tengo in The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller, Green deploys narration, archival footage, photos, and interviews with collaborators from Laurie Anderson to Steve Reich. But, unlike Fuller, Kronos Quartet is more than equipped to perform the score, a layering of narrative reality that adds even more piquancy to Green’s novel technique.
A Thousand Thoughts
A Live Documentary with Kronos Quartet
Written and Directed by Sam Green and Joe Bini
David Harrington, violin
John Sherba, violin
Hank Dutt, viola
Sunny Yang, cello
Sam Green and Joe Bini, filmmakers
Brian H. Scott, lighting design
Scott Fraser, sound design