Famed string quartet flips its cellist

Famed string quartet flips its cellist


norman lebrecht

September 21, 2022

It’s last minute substitution time in the global quartet league. Last night the Borodin Quartet. Today it’s Kronos.

For just under 50 years, San Fran-based Kronos have led the line as the leading performers of new music for string quartet.

In that time they have only changed one instrumentalist in the group – the cellist, and several times over.

The original cellist Joan Jeanrenaud left in 1999 to try ‘something new’. Her replacement Jennifer Culp gave way in 2005 to Jeffrey Zeigler who, in 2013, was replaced by Sunny Yang.

Now Yang has gone. Her replacement is cellist-composer Paul Wiancko (pictured).

Founder David Harrington says: ‘We thank Sunny for 10 fabulous years with Kronos! Sunny’s elegant, incisive playing has anchored our concerts, recordings, and rehearsals. She led us into the iPad era; her ease with all of our composers and her indelible contributions to 50 for the Future have permanently influenced the music of Kronos. We all wish Sunny the very best in the future. We welcome Paul to Kronos! We look forward to soaring into the future with the catalytic, super-charged vitality of Paul’s playing. It will be so much fun to explore the vast world of music together with Paul. There are so many cool adventures ahead.’


  • Michal Kaznowski says:

    I loved Sunny’s playing.
    Good luck to her

  • David Rowe says:

    Paul Wiancko is a phenomenal talent, both as cellist and composer. Congratulations and enjoy the ride!

  • Bigfoot says:

    Not to nitpick, but it’s simply incorrect to claim that Kronos has only changed the cellist during their nearly 50 year existence, or that Joan Jeanrenaud was the original cellist. Here is the lineup as of January 24, 1974, according to the Seattle Times archives:

    David Harrington and James Shallenberger, violins
    Walter Gray, cello
    James Killian, viola

    The membership has remained more stable since the quartet moved to San Francisco in 1978.

    A more recent article provides some detail on the early years:

  • Patrick Rogers says:

    Surely the only string quartet consistently playing modern music was the Arditti!

  • Henry williams says:

    If i had hair like his no woman would go out with me.

  • Mandy says:

    This is like how Spinal Tap kept replacing drummers…..

  • Antwerp Smerle says:

    NL, on what basis do you claim that the changes of personnel in the Borodin and Kronos quartets are “last minute substitutions”?