The Kruger Brothers personify the spirit of exploration and innovation that forms the core of the American musical tradition. Their original music, composed by Jens Kruger (recent Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame inductee), is crafted around their discerning taste and unique style.
The Kruger Brothers will perform the first set on their own; they will be joined in the second set by Kontras String Quartet to perform their Appalachian Concerto. The concert will be held at the Carolina Theatre in Durham on Friday, Jan. 18 at 8 p.m. Limited tickets are still available, and tickets range from $32-$34 for the general public, or $27-$29 for PineCone members. Call PineCone’s box office at 919-664-8302, or visit www.pinecone.org for more information!
Composed by Jens Kruger, the Appalachian Concerto is a work for banjo, bass, guitar, and string quartet. Innovative, challenging, and beautiful, the piece takes the ensemble playing that the Kruger Brothers are famous for to an entirely new level of musicianship. From the first notes to the last cadence, the piece celebrates Appalachia – the history, the landscape, and the culture – in a way that only The Kruger Brothers can. They released a studio recording of Appalachian Concerto on CD in 2011, but you can experience a live performance version of this unique composition at this concert!
In late 2010, the Kruger Brothers premiered the Appalachian Concerto, a concerto for banjo, bass, guitar, and string quartet, which was commissioned by the Ashe County Arts Council. In addition to their regular concert schedule, they perform these pieces regularly with select symphony orchestras and string quartets throughout the country.
When describing this composition, Jens explains, “It is about my personal journey – coming to the United States with my family. It’s my romantic idea of how Appalachia was settled. I am not a historian, but I like to imagine and tell the musical story of how immigrants found this beautiful land and how things came to be.”
Originally from Europe, now living in NC, The Kruger Brothers draw from a rich cultural palette, seamlessly blending elements of folk, bluegrass, jazz, and classical music into their own sound. The Kruger Brothers’ musical style encompasses all styles of music through their personal development, classical European musical influences, and love of the American spirit.
In 2011, Jens was inducted into the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame. He was recognized for his involvement in multiple aspects of music. As part owner of Double Time Music, Jens is incredibly involved in the production side of music. Double Time Music is a world class recording and production studio with a focus on musician friendly tracking and a commitment to providing excellence in sound. Jens produced both the 2010 International Folk Chart’s Song of the Year, “Peace Will Rise” by Si Kahn and the album Courage by Si Kahn, recognized as the 2010 Album of the Year by Folk DJs.
Born and raised in Switzerland, Jens and Uwe Kruger have been performing professionally since 1979; they were performing regularly from the ages of 11 and 12! When they were very young, Uwe (Oo-vay) and younger brother Jens (Yens) placed a guitar on the floor between them and played it together, one brother taking the upper strings and the other the lower strings.
Jens was six years old when he first heard the banjo on one of his dad’s records, brought back from business trips to the U.S., and he yearned to play it. Having no access to one, he played their mother’s accordion, accompanying Uwe, who played their father’s guitar. When Jens turned 10, he acquired a tenor banjo and started to play Dixieland jazz, hoping that one-day “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” would flow from the instrument. A year later, Jens and Uwe made their first public appearance, and two years later Uwe bought Jens his first five-string banjo.
As teens, the brothers traveled through Europe as the Rocky Road Band, attempting a living as street musicians. Their adventure earned them a record contract with CBS. In 1982, at the age of 20, Jens crossed the Atlantic to the Bean Blossom Festival and Bill Monroe. Monroe introduced Jens to the Grand Ole Opry as the first known European banjo player. After living with Bill for the summer and following his advice, Jens returned to Switzerland to develop his own musical style and repertoire. For four years, Jens spent days and nights learning tunes from all the records he could find.
Joel Landsberg moved to Switzerland in 1989 and began a successful career as a bassist with various country/rock and jazz groups based throughout Europe. During this time, he met Jens and Uwe and developed what would turn into a deeply rewarding musical alliance and friendship. In early 1995, Landsberg was initiated into the “brotherhood” and has been performing full time with the band ever since.
In 1997, the Kruger Brothers made their MerleFest debut, which launched their career in America. Since then, Jens has performed with Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, John McEwen, Willie Nelson, and Ricky Skaggs, to name a few. Like Uwe, Jens plays many stringed instruments with proficiency, and his style and virtuosity mark him as a master of his art. The band’s remarkable facility with their instruments and unique take on the American Songbook have made them a fixture within the acoustic music world. Although initially staying fairly close to a traditional repertoire, the group later turned to song writing and composition in order to draw more from their personal experiences.
After six years of traveling extensively back and forth between Switzerland and the U.S. for performances, Jens and his family moved to North Carolina.
The Kontras Quartet is currently in the midst of its third year as quartet in residence with the Western Piedmont Symphony in Hickory. Though the quartet only formed in 2009, they earned this residency through a nationwide competition; the residency was established in conjunction with Chamber Music America in 1999.
The quartet’s members — violinists Dmitri Pogorelov and Francois Henkins, violist Ai Ishida, and cellist Jean Hatmaker — hail from four different parts of the world — Russia, South Africa, Japan, and the United States.
The quartet’s members hold graduate degrees in performance from DePaul University, Indiana University, the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, and the Chicago College of Performing Arts. Their mentors include the Vermeer Quartet; Dr. Cliff Colnot, the principal conductor of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s contemporary MusicNOW series; renowned violinist Ilya Kaler; and members of the Emerson String Quartet. Kontras, which means “contrasts” in Henkins’ native Afrikaans language, debuted in Chicago after the four musicians met while performing in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago.
PineCone is proud to present this special night of music as one of the inaugural PineCone in Durham concerts this year. This new partnership increases PineCone’s flexibility in bringing you your favorite artists all year-round. Tickets for this concert range from $32-$34 for the general public, or $27-$29 for PineCone members.