The grande dame of New York’s avant garde has met her match composing for Kronos Quartet, but she has many strings to her bow.

It seems surprising that you’re coming to Perth and Adelaide Festivals with your first ever collaboration with Kronos; you’re all New Yorkers with a long history of musical adventurousness. How would you describe the project?

I’m still working on it; it’ll be a shock to me as well as to everyone else! It’s been amazing to work with the Kronos Quartet because they have such exquisite chops. As a string player I’ll hang back and try not to play too much because I love watching them. But playing with them is a dream come true.

What was the initial idea behind it?

It started out because the Kronos Quartet wanted to tell stories. I said, “I’ll invent something so that you can tell stories with your instrument.”  Then I realised – whoops! – I don’t have any idea how to do that. So we worked with people to develop some software that allows them to play musical phrases that generate text phrases. It’s really exciting to me because it’s a new way for words and music to work...