WHEN THE KRONOS Quartet performs Friday night at Lisner Auditorium, it will be as part of a tour marking the pioneering new-music ensemble's 25th anniversary. But violinist and musical director David Harrington, speaking from the troupe's San Francisco rehearsal space, is not feeling like an institution.
Friday night's concert will feature selections from the new-music group's recent CD, which bears a title that might seem incongruous: "Early Music." The album emphasizes such 9th- to 17th-century composers as Perotin, Guillaume de Machaut, John Dowland, Christopher Tye, Henry Purcell, Hildegard von Bingen and Kassia but also incorporates the work of 20th-century figures like John Cage, Harry Partch, and Alfred Schnittke.
Contrasting the two is "an idea that goes way back in to the origins of the group," explains Harrington. "I think of `Black Angels' by George Crumb, which was really the inspiration to start the group in the first place, and realize how wonderfully Crumb manipulates the sense of time. There are moments when the music could have come out of the Middle Ages; there are other moments when it sounds like it's coming out of the Vietnam War, let's say. That contrast is something we've been working with for a long time.
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