The Kairos Quartet was founded in 1996 and specializes in music written since 1950, including smaller and larger settings. Older music is included on a programme only if there is a significant link to more recent pieces also being played, and if doing so offers additional benefits to the audience.
Compositions are likely to select that are firmly rooted in the tradition of progress and critical reflection, or those connected to it, for example, from another musical tradition. In accordance with these principles the Kairos Quartet has, in eleven years, added more than 40 compositions to the fold through commissions and world premieres. Although the Kairos Quartett has worked with a number of well-known composers such as G. Kurtág, H. Lachenmann, B. Ferneyhough, and G.F. Haas prominence is not a criterium; aside Haas the quartet has also honed long-standing working relationships with composers of widely differing notorieties such as Julio Estrada, Giorgio Netti, Knut Müller, Sergej Newski, Enno Poppe, and Liza Lim.
Acting as a bridge between composer and audience the musicians work closely - whenever possible - with composers and reach out to the audience by offering alternative concert formats (p.e. 1 hour of music + 1 hour of discussion) and workshops. Special emphasis is given to programming concepts and the planning of concert series. Curating and organizing events may also include the production of programme booklets.
Workshops and Seminars on New Music topics were presented at schools of music and during festivals in Austria, Germany, Mexico, Norway, Poland and Switzerland. Kairos performed on many of the most prestigious European music festivals such as Berliner Festwochen & MaerzMusik, Eclat, Festival d'Automne, Huddersfield, Nordic Music Days Copenhagen, Festspiele Salzburg, Warsaw Autumn und Wien Modern. During their two trips to Mexico they performed at the Universidad Nacional de México and at the Festival Internacional Cervantino.
The Kairos Quartett was the first ensemble to be granted an Akademie Schloß Solitude grant, and its projects were repeatedly funded by the E. v. Siemens Music Foundation. Several of its CDs won prizes such as the German Record Critics' Award (Haas SQ).
The quartet's members served as jurors for the first John Cage Prize for the Interpretation of New Music in Halberstadt 2008.
Among the many artistic partners of Kairos were the actress Martina Gedeck, baritone Dietrich Henschel, Mayumi Miyata (shô), Valeri Scherstjanoi, Michael Lentz (both voice), boris d hegenbart (electronics), Schlagquartett Köln (percussion quartet), the Vokalsolisten of the SWR, and the pianists Heather O'Donnell and Frank Immo Zichner.
Kairos Quartet members work as equals: every one has the right to veto a new piece, and important decisions are made by consensus. There is no musical director, and the coordination responsibility during rehearsals of a given composition usually lies with one of the two violinists – thus the addition "alternating" first violins.
last update: 09/2010