about the program
impersonators improvising and singing from a script I had created. My script contained lists of hotels, concert venues, films and people in Elvis’ life; quotes (confirmed and unconfirmed) and sayings such as Shakespeare’s “The World’s a Stage” (recited by Elvis at every performance); “Thank you very much” (often drawled by Elvis in concert after every song); “Elvis has left the building” (announced at the end of every Vegas concert). “Decades after the untimely death of Elvis at the age of 42, Elvis Everywhere makes an argument that Elvis continues to be “everywhere” and “everything” to millions of fans who experience vicariously the “King of Rock and Roll” through the performances of Elvis’ music by dedicated and passionate Elvis impersonators.” Elvis Everywhere was commissioned for the Kronos Quartet by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. wiley: last KinD worDs (c. 1930) In March 1930, Geeshie Wiley recorded “Last Kind Words” in Grafton, Wisconsin, for Paramount Records. Beyond this, very little information is confirmed about this singer’s life, though there are reports that she came from Mississippi. She recorded a second song at the same session, “Skinny Leg Blues,” and provided backup for a few additional tracks. Nevertheless, her recording of “Last Kind Words” has given Wiley the reputation of being perhaps one of the great early blues musicians. Blues scholar Don Kent has written, “If Geeshie Wiley did not exist, she could not be invented: her scope and creativity dwarfs most blues artists. She seems to represent the moment when black secular music was coalescing into blues.… Moreover, despite her sensual voice, the persona she presents is as tough as Charley Patton: money before romance and she sweetly says, while extolling her sexual charms, that she’s calmly capable of killing you… [Last Kind Words] is one of the most imaginatively constructed guitar arrangements of its era and possible one of the most archaic. Although the lyrics date it to the late World War I era, its eight-bar verse structure appears to be older.” The lyrics read, in part, “The last kind words I heard my daddy say: ‘If I die in the German war, please don’t bury my soul. Ah, child, just leave me out, let the buzzards eat me whole.’” Jacob Garchik’s arrangement of Last Kind Words was commissioned for the Kronos Quartet by the David Harrington Research and Development Fund.
aminiKia: tar o pooD (2013) Born in Iran, composer and pianist Sahba Aminikia studied music composition in Russia at the St. Petersburg State Conservatory under Boris Ivanovich, a student of Dmitri Shostakovich. In his homeland, Aminikia studied under renowned pianists Safa Shahidi and Gagik Babayan, and was influenced greatly by composer Mehran Rouhani, a student of Michael Tippett. Aminikia currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, studying with David Conte and David Garner at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. In his work, Aminikia draws influence from jazz, Russian contemporary composition and, most importantly to him, the traditional melodies of Iran. About Tar o Pood, Aminikia writes: “The origins of carpet weaving art in Iran (Persia) go back to ancient times. My father’s side of the family comes from a generation of carpet weavers and I remember my grandparents weaving carpets as a part of their daily routines. The sounds generated by their tools and scissors would form a rhythmic structure while they were working rapidly and mechanically. A carpet takes about a year to complete while two or four people are working on it day and night. One person at one end of the carpet sings the patterns and the other on the other side weaves the pattern. Since the carpet is symmetrical, they will be finished with one line of the design when they reach each other. The tedious and repetitive process of weaving makes them put music to this pattern-reading which turns it into beautiful songs. Some of these songs survive generations of weavers and become routine songs in that region of the country. I thought of these sounds and songs as the inspiration behind Tar o Pood. “The piece is in three sections. Tarh (Pattern in Farsi) depicts the pattern-reading process and this section is designed in the shape of a carpet even on the music score. Bâft (Knotting) portrays the mechanical procedure of carpet knotting and scissoring the extras with all the noises and some singing, which I recorded in different regions of Iran. In the last section, Pardâkht (Finish), I incorporated my own grandmother’s voice singing a carpet-weaving song which translates in part as follows: “Day and night I spend knotting Kermân (a city) rugs, And even if my finger tips start to bleed, I’ll never leave my place and will never stop working!" Tar o Pood was commissioned for the Kronos Quartet by Nasrin Marzban and the Iranian cultural