Bringing New Music into Bloom

Many paths led Kronos Quartet founder, David Harrington, to become one of the most influential musicians of all time with a discography over fifty albums deep. An unlikely source was his grandma’s lilies, which she collected through the mail from people all over the world.

“[The lilies] introduced the idea that the map was larger than Portland, Oregon,” says Harrington. “I started hearing music from a variety of places as a teenager, and that’s something that continues. The desire to learn more.”

The music of Kronos Quartet is much like those lilies. They explore seeds of music from different cultures, traditions and mindsets. As they cross-pollinate, something new and different is created.

“What happens to me is the influences keep growing in number,” says Harrington. His first was at the age twelve when he heard the Budapest String Quartet perform Beethoven’s Opus 127 in E Flat Major. “That opening chord just totaled me out as a twelve-year-old kid. I thought, ‘I love this, I have to learn how to do it.’ Every piece that we will play in Fort Collins, that feeling has happened.”

Not content to just receive those seeds and watch them grow, Kronos Quartet has embarked on a project to send out their music for anyone to play: Fifty for the Future. “What we want is to be sure that other quartets, especially young quartets, have direct and immediate access to music that we play. The idea is that anyone, performer or listener, can go onto the Kronos Quartet website and learn more about the fifty composers, and download the music in parts.” Two songs that will be played in Fort Collins will be from this Fifty for the Future repository, including one piece developed in collaboration with Angelique Kidjo.

One of the greatest influences for David Harrington and Kronos Quartet was George Crumb’s “Black Angels,”—a haunting and disturbing piece that is a pivotal part of the contemporary classical canon—is largely unavailable in most music libraries, and when it is, the score is unwieldy. For Harrington, the piece was transformative. “All of the sudden, in an instant, the world made sense,” he tells. “I found my song. I needed to get a group together, that’s why I started Kronos Quartet. Maybe people will hear songs from Fifty for the Future and have the access we didn’t have.”

Since the first piece Kronos Quartet ever played and would later go on to record was Crumb’s opus, it gave Harrington the opportunity to interview the renowned composer. He asked Crumb to tell him what he was thinking while writing the piece, as the most widely held interpretation of the piece is that it anti-Vietnam War. Crumb responded, “There were strange things in the air.”

Harrington was struck by that. “It’s a musician’s responsibility and our jobs to hear those strange things in the air and give them musical form,” says Harrington. “That’s what we can provide society and our world.”

Kronos Quartet is constantly creating with an eye for the future. Who knows what their future influences will be, and what startling and challenging creations they will shape with their unique soundscapes. One thing is for certain, like the lilies and the first two chords of Beethoven’s Opus 127, the music will be powerful.

See Kronos Quartet, one of the most celebrated and influential groups of our time, as they perform with their signature spirit of fearless exploration and creativity on February 11, 2022, at 7:30 p.m. Seats start at $20 and are available at or by calling 970-221-6730.

Meet Benise, Prince of the Spanish Guitar

Named “The Prince of Spanish Guitar” by Dancing with the Stars, Benise is a man that always makes a statement. From street busker to Emmy-winning performer, Benise delivers a jaw-dropping experience backed by musicians and elaborately choreographed dancers in his 20th Anniversary Tour. We interviewed Benise about his upcoming Fort Collins performance on February 24, 2022, so you could get to know him and his music and find out exactly what his amazing stage performance has in store.

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Tell us, what made you choose the Spanish guitar?

It was a moment of epiphany. It happened one day when I was driving and switching through different radio channels. At the time I was going through a tough time in my life—I was at a crossroads. I came upon a sound that was so beautiful…it resonated in my heart.

The sound was nylon string guitar and the artist was Marc Antoine. I immediately fell in love with the instrument and the timeless melodies it could create. It was so raw and so real.

I was playing electric guitars at the time. I put all my electric guitars in the closet and haven’t touched them since.

I went home and restrung one of my acoustic steel strings with nylon strings and started to relearn how to play. With the electric guitar you can bend strings, use effects, have endless sustain, but with a nylon string guitar, it’s just the wood, your fingers and your passion. That’s why I fell in love with Spanish guitar.

What do you hope people feel when they watch your performance?

I want to take the audience on a journey—an escape to a beautiful Spanish courtyard filled with Flamenco dancers, stunning costumes and fiery Spanish guitars. 

This is a great show for the whole family; I really think we have something for everyone.  I hope people will be inspired by our story, by the music, by the production—and have the passion to follow their own dreams.

How did it feel to win an Emmy?

Winning the Emmy really helped catapult me to the next level. I went from performing on the streets to suddenly performing in theaters all around the world.

What do you love most about performing?

I live to be on stage! Music and the guitar have been my passport to the world. Since my music is instrumental and the show is so visual with the dancers, multi-media, and set production, we appeal to people of different cultures and languages. I love performing these songs and the energy of every audience is unique. Music really is an international language and can help unite us.

What goes into your creative process?

Every album has its own theme. I composed, recorded and filmed my newest PBS project Strings of Hope during the pandemic.

Music helps us heal and the creative process is deeply personal for me. With this new album, I wanted to capture this moment in time. In addition to composing original songs, I also wanted to redo some Spanish guitar classics that have helped me through tough times: “Ave Maria,” “Clair de Lune” and “Moonlight Sonata.”

What has been the highlight of your music career?

One of the biggest highlights of my career was the first time I rented out a theater for my show. At the time I was performing on the streets with just my band, but I had the dream of producing a huge stage show.

I didn’t know anything about producing, promoting a show, or renting a theater but knew in my heart I had to try. I invested all the money I had. It was a 2,000 seat theater and I didn’t know if I would sell one ticket, but the show sold out – every last seat! That’s when I knew my dream was coming true.

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Don’t miss your opportunity to see Benise live in his Emmy Award-winning, global, Latin-themed theatrical production. With a stage full of musicians and Flamenco dancers, this tribute to Old World Spain is sure to be a pure celebration of Spanish fire, passion and spirit. Tickets start at $15 and are available at or by phone at 970-221-6730.