Besieged by Strauss waltzes and Joplin rags and pretty much torn down for good by Rhapsody in Blue and Porgy and Bess: Any walls that may once have stood between “classical” and “popular” music haven’t, in any serious sense, for decades. Yet the fact is that musicians thrive on preserving this distinction (even as we pretend to deplore it); we need these conceptual divides so that we can pat ourselves on the back for crossing them. Witness the Croatian duet 2Cellos, who’ve achieved mainstream exposure (Glee, Ellen) through their takes on pop/rock tunes (“Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Candle in the Wind”). These two are clearly talented and their arrangements gratifyingly un-cheesy—but you can only roll your eyes at their tired claim to be “breaking the boundaries between different genres of music.” Sorry, bros: The Kronos Quartet recorded “Purple Haze” before either of you were born. So much for that “boundary.” Similarly, it’s always amusing, in every single article written about cellist Matt Haimovitz, to see the palpitations journalists go into when they find out he plays in bars! The cello! OMG!!!—as if Seattle’s Degenerate Art Ensemble hadn’t done that 20 years ago.
OK, I admit we’re spoiled here in Seattle, and it’s unfair to snark at all those who are just catching up to our innovations. But let’s take a moment to pat ourselves on the back, too, as the boldface names above join forces to celebrate the Kronos’ 40th anniversary. The quartet was founded here, as you surely know, and I love that they’re returning to their birth city to collaborate with their artistic descendants in a new chapter of the DAE’s ongoing work, Predator’s Songstress. This chapter, “Warrior,” combines Joshua Kohl’s score for the Kronos (plus six vocalists) with dance from Haruko Nishimura. Sitting somewhere (speaking of boundaries) near the intersection of Pärt, Reich, and Ligeti, Kohl’s evocative music is spacey, dreamy, but with that ominous undercurrent without which it wouldn’t be a DAE piece. The Neptune, 1303 N.E. 45th St., 877-784-4849, stgpresents.org. $44. 8 p.m. Sat., Nov. 16.
(BTW, those non-boldface guys are in town this weekend, too. 2Cellos plays the Moore Sun., Nov. 17; and for more on Haimovitz’s appearances with Simple Measures, see the Pick List.)