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Kronos Quartet Plays Music from Banned Countries

Mahsa Vadat and the Kronos Quartet

Mahsa Vahdat, center, with the Kronos Quartet (left to right, David Harrington, John Sherba, Hank Dutt and Sunny Yang) performing its "Music for Change: The Banned Countries" program at UC Santa Barbara's Campbell Hall on Tuesday night (David Bazemore /Arts & Lectures, UCSB)

Dec 7 2018

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Announcements, In the News

As a direct protest to the 2017 Executive Orders limiting travel to the United States by people from largely Muslim-majority countries, San Francisco’s Grammy Award–winning Kronos Quartet created a new program featuring music from the original seven “banned” countries—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen—among others. Kronos’ Music for Change: The Banned Countries highlights a rich diversity of artistic voices, including works composed specifically for the performance, new collaborations, and signature works from Kronos’ extensive repertoire.

The Hamid and Christina Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies was involved in the early conceptualization of this project and helped commission works in the performance. Music for Change premiered at Stanford University with an introductory panel discussion on the effects of the travel with Professor Abbas Milani, Ambassador Michael McFaul, Professor Martha Crenshaw, and David Harrington, Kronos' Artistic Director. Listen to audio from the discussion

As Music for Change tours the U.S., read reviews of the unique and moving performance. 


Review: In defiance of Trump, Kronos Quartet plays music from banned countries

Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times

"The political context of the program, part of UCSB’s Arts & Lectures series, was the quartet’s reaction to the 2017 executive orders restricting entry to the U.S. from certain Muslim-majority countries. Among the victims have been touring artists. “Music,” to quote a statement in the program note, “provides an irrefutable response to those seeking to divide and demonize peoples.”

And yet pieces from Middle Eastern and African nations, along with a set of songs sung by the Iranian vocalist Mahsa Vahdat (and the manner in which they were presented) offered no overt political message. Rather, this was a journey of discovery for which the audience couldn’t quite be prepared..."