Guides to Reality

Guides to Reality (AT)”: an immersi­ve event that com­bi­nes music thea­ter, radio play, game and script­ed rea­li­ty.
In this 70-minu­te pie­ce, the Kuss Quartet and Sarah Maria Sun per­form, sup­port­ed by high-qua­li­ty silent dis­co head­pho­nes and DigitAize fin­ger­board controllers.

GUIDES TO REALITY turns the con­cert sce­na­rio on its head by intro­du­cing a cross-gen­re for­mat that blurs art forms and detaches string quar­tet music from its his­to­ri­ci­ty.
The audi­ence expe­ri­en­ces a diver­se mix of noi­sy, vir­tuo­sic rhyth­mic tex­tures, elec­tro­nic sound­scapes, pod­casts, covers from Nirvana to Enno Poppe and new­ly sam­pled string quar­tet repertoire.

Sarah Maria Sun gui­des the audi­ence through the per­for­mance as an emcee, acting as their sub­con­scious, con­fidan­te, ene­my and past. Their inter­ac­tions crea­te inti­ma­cy and intri­gue as sel­ec­ted audi­ence mem­bers par­ti­ci­pa­te in the per­for­mance. The audi­ence wears wire­less head­pho­nes that allow them to explo­re dif­fe­rent per­spec­ti­ves and enga­ge with the situation.

The head­pho­nes allow them to switch bet­ween dif­fe­rent chan­nels so that the audi­ence can shape their own expe­ri­ence and lis­ten to secret mes­sa­ges, radio broad­casts or alter­na­ti­ve per­spec­ti­ves of the event.
The goal is an inter­ac­ti­ve jour­ney that pushes the boun­da­ries of live per­for­mance and draws the audi­ence into music thea­ter v.2.0.

Sara Glojnaric, com­po­ser
©Mateja Vrčković

Sarah Maria Sun, sopra­no ©Rüdiger Schestag


Kuss@Kokon was an initia­ti­ve during the pan­de­mic. We got tog­e­ther as a string quar­tet with fri­ends and com­pa­n­ions who are par­ti­cu­lar­ly important to our deve­lo­p­ment, who have had a par­ti­cu­lar influence on us or who have sur­pri­sed us. We locked our­sel­ves away in stu­di­os with them for seve­ral days, and each of us brought our own art form to the table, and we then got to work together.

This means, for exam­p­le, that we pro­vi­ded a Mendelssohn string quar­tet move­ment, play­ed it and it was inter­rupt­ed by per­cus­sion, slam poet­ry or choreography/ dance.
We did­n’t illus­tra­te this move­ment, but met each other with various dis­rup­ti­ve fac­tors or the exact oppo­si­te of dis­rup­ti­on. That was so much fun and brought us to gre­at ide­as, of put­ting tog­e­ther dif­fe­rent modu­les that we could later com­bi­ne in con­certs or events such as fes­ti­vals, depen­ding on what was needed.

That’s what I call modu­les: They are con­cert parts, show parts that can run simul­ta­neous­ly, on dif­fe­rent levels such as inside/outside or con­se­cu­tively or even spread out in a room — depen­ding on the situation.

Instrumentation & works

Force and Freedom


A Beethoven pro­ject: for the 250th anni­ver­sa­ry of the composer’s birth, Nico and the Navigators and the Kuss Quartet ques­ti­on the aes­the­tic and poli­ti­cal cons­traints and free­doms in which Beethoven’s work was created.

The audi­ence alter­na­te­ly heard excerp­ts from Beethoven’s string quar­tets and adapt­a­ti­ons of the composer’s song frag­ments … In com­bi­na­ti­on with dance, songs and quo­ta­ti­ons, Beethoven’s string quar­tets appeared in a new light … The breath­ta­king move­ments of dancer Kawaguchi illus­tra­ted the ambi­va­lence of emo­ti­ons inher­ent in the music. In short inter­vals, des­pair, hope, light­ness and melan­cho­ly alter­na­ted …
The crow­ning fina­le of the per­for­mance, the “Great Fugue” Opus 133, in which Beethoven repea­ted­ly explo­des the firm­ly estab­lished sys­tem of the fugue, was also fit­ting. The audi­ence was enthu­si­a­stic.“

More details and photos:

Force & Freedom

Commissioned Works

Music exists in time

this is important to us in both a lite­ral and uni­ver­sal sense.

How are string quar­tets writ­ten nowa­days, in the­se times whe­re any­thing goes…?
Johannes Brahms once wro­te, “You can­not ima­gi­ne how we feel, con­stant­ly hea­ring the steps of the giant Beethoven behind us.” And yet the oeu­vre has con­tin­ued to be rich and crea­ti­ve, espe­ci­al­ly for string quar­tet.
We are glad and also proud to be part of this ongo­ing jour­ney of creativity. 
Lera Auerbach, Oliver Schneller, Enno Poppe, Aribert Reimann, Manfred Trojahn, Bruno Mantovani, Iris ter Schiphorst and Francisco Coll are among­st the com­po­sers who­se works we have com­mis­sio­ned and pre­mie­red.
The adven­ture star­ted 1998 with Jörg Widmann’s first string quar­tet. As win­ners of the
Karl Klingler Competition, we recei­ved a spe­cial pri­ze for his work and per­for­med it for the first time in Berlin.

We curr­ent­ly recei­ve fun­ding from the sta­te of Lower Saxony in order to kind­le new initia­ti­ves for string quartet.

An exci­ting part of our quar­tet life!

Francisco Coll: Códices

Premiere: 31.10.2023, Stadtcasino Basel
Duration: 15 minutes


Commissioned for the Kuss Quartet by Kammermusik Basel, Konzerthaus Berlin, Wigmore Hall, Het Concertgebouw, and Musik 21 Niedersachsen

Mark Andre: Sieben Stücke für Streichquartett

Premiere: 02.08.2022, Sommerliche Musiktage Hitzacker
Duration: 16 minutes


Iris ter Schiphorst: “Sei gutes Muts”

Premiere: 02.08.2021, Sommerliche Musiktage Hitzacker
Duration: 12 minutes

with Maurice Steger, recorder

Bruno Mantovani: Beethoveniana

Premiere: 16.06.2019, Suntory Hall Tokyo
Duration: 11 minutes

Co-com­mis­sio­ned by: Suntory Hall Tokyo, Philharmonie de Paris, ProQuartet Paris, Musik21 Niedersachsen Hannover,
Concertgebouw Amsterdam & Wigmore Hall London

Aribert Reimann: “Die schö­nen Augen der Frühlingsnacht”

Sechs Lieder von Theodor Kirchner nach Gedichten von Heinrich Heine für Sopran und Streichquartett bear­bei­tet und ver­bun­den mit sie­ben Bagatellen für Streichquartett

Premiere: 14.12.2017, Muziekgebouw aan’t IJ Amsterdam 
Duration: 9 minu­tes
with Mojca Erdmann, soprano

Co-com­mis­sio­ned by the Frankfurt Bürgerstiftung in the Holzhausenschlösschen, finan­ced by the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation

Enno Poppe: Freizeit

Premiere: 30.11.2016, Hannover
Duration: 5 minutes