The key to the Kronos Quartet's appearance at Shriver Hall on Saturday came in the final encore and the audience's response to it. The quartet played its own transcription of Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze" and the young audience went berserk with joy.
The concert celebrated the 25th anniversary of the chamber music series at Shriver Hall, once a bastion of Germanic seriousness in this city. The Kronos concert -- which used amplification, a set that suggested a TV talk show late in the 21st century and sophisticated lighting -- was an index to how much "serious" music has changed since the Shriver Series was inaugurated.
Like several other young classical musicians, the members of Kronos -- violinists David Harrington and John Sherba, violist Hank Dutt and cellist Joan Jeanrenaud -- are a marketing phenomenon. They wear Day-Glo outfits and sport haircuts of the sort one sees on the heads of Maryland Art Institute students. They are very hip, they sell a lot of records and -- truth to tell -- they are also a fairly good quartet.