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Cypress String Quartet
92Y Debut, Only NYC Concert of the Season
92Y Concerts at SubCulture
Featuring the New York Premiere of George Tsontakis’ String Quartet No. 6
Plus Selections from Dvořák’s Cypresses and Schubert’s String Quartet No.15 in G Major
Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at 7:30pm
45 Bleecker Street (downstairs) | NYC
Tickets: $30/$35 at 212.415.5500 or www.92Y.org
“artistry of uncommon insight & cohesion” – Gramophone
Cypress Quartet: www.cypressquartet.com
New York, NY – The Cypress String Quartet will give the New York premiere of Grawemeyer Award-winning composer George Tsontakis’ String Quartet No. 6 on Tuesday, April 1 at 7:30pm as part of the new series “92Y Concerts at SubCulture,” a co-presentation of 92Y and newly opened club SubCulture (downstairs at 45 Bleecker Street). The concert, which is the group’s 92Y debut and their only NYC appearance of the season, also includes selections from Dvořák’s set of twelve love songs for string quartet, Cypresses, from which the Quartet takes its name, as well as Schubert’s seminal String Quartet No. 15 in G Major. The Cypress Quartet’s recording of Dvořák’s Cypresses was released as part of the quartet’s debut album on AVIE in February 2013 (review copies available on request).
Tsontakis’ new work was commissioned this year by the Cypress Quartet through its 15th annual Call & Response program, and will be premiered by the group on March 14, 2014 in San Francisco. Through Call & Response, the Cypress Quartet commissions and premieres new string quartets from both emerging and celebrated composers, asking them to write in response to established chamber repertoire. Call & Response creates a dynamic dialogue between the past and present, between performers and composers, and among audiences of all ages. Tsontakis’ String Quartet No. 6 is written in response to Schubert’s String Quartet No. 15 in G Major plus two masterpieces by Webern – his ultra-romantic Langsamersatz and the contrasting Five Movements for String Quartet.
The Cypress Quartet’s annual Call & Response concert has earned a strong West Coast following; the major concert is preceded by performances throughout the Bay Area in community centers, unorthodox spaces, and schools. Since its inception in 2000, Call & Response has reached more than 25,000 Bay Area residents. Call & Response 2014 is supported in part by a grant from The National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works.
This is the second time George Tsontakis has been commissioned by the Cypress Quartet through the ensemble’s Call & Response program. Tsontakis wrote his String Quartet No. 5 for the group in 2005, in response to Beethoven’s Late Quartets. It was the first quartet Tsontakis had composed in 20 years, and is written in memory of composer George Rochberg, who died in 2005.
Of his String Quartet No. 6, Tsontakis says, “Even though my sixth quartet was composed seven years after my fifth, can I help but make a degree of my response a reaction to the call of my own fifth quartet? My sixth mirrors my fifth in many ways, but at the same time progresses from it. Most notably, the sixth has truly fast music. In the second part of the sixth, “Blaze,” the gently flowing sixteenth-note patterns of a major second of the fifth quartet now become the driving force of the tautly-wound texture – a relentless scherzo of sorts but always liquid and flowing, as in the treatment in the fifth.”
To date, the Cypress Quartet has commissioned and premiered over 30 pieces, four of which were chosen for Chamber Music America’s list of “101 Great American Ensemble Works.” In addition to Tsontakis, commissioned composers include Philippe Hersant, Benjamin Lees, Kevin Puts, and Jennifer Higdon.
About the Cypress String Quartet: Known for its elegant performances, the Cypress String Quartet (Cecily Ward, violin; Tom Stone, violin; Ethan Filner, viola; and Jennifer Kloetzel, cello) has been praised by Gramophone for its “artistry of uncommon insight and cohesion,” and its sound has been called “beautifully proportioned and powerful” by The Washington Post. The Cypress Quartet was formed in San Francisco in 1996, and during its initial rehearsals the group created a signature sound through intense readings of J.S. Bach’s Chorales. Built up from the bottom register of the quartet and layered like a pyramid, the resulting sound is clear and transparent, allowing the texture of the music to be discerned immediately.
During the last two years, the Cypress String Quartet has added three new recordings to its ten-album discography. In November 2011 and March 2012 respectively, the Quartet released The American Album (featuring Barber’s Quartet Op. 11, Griffes’s Two Sketches Based on Indian Themes, and Dvořák’s String Quartet No. 12 “American”), and the complete three-CD set of Beethoven’s Late Quartets, which was named Best Classical CD of 2012 by the Dallas Morning News. In February 2013, the Cypress String Quartet added an all-Dvořák disc on the AVIE record label featuring Cypresses, B. 152 (the work from which the ensemble draws its name) and String Quartet in G, Op. 106. The CD has garnered significant attention and is being featured on Sirius XM and PRI Classical, and was chosen as a CD of the Week on WQXR in New York. Additionally, a full hour was devoted to the new CSQ disc on ORF, the largest and most listened-to classical music radio station in Austria. In November 2013, the Cypress re-issued The American Album on AVIE, adding 2012 Pulitzer Prize winning composer Kevin Puts’ Lento Assai which was commissioned by the Cypress in 2008 as part Call & Response.
The Cypress continues to maintain a busy national and international tour schedule, making appearances on concert series and in venues including Cal Performances, Kennedy Center, Library of Congress, Stanford Lively Arts, Krannert Center, Ravinia Festival, and the 92nd Street Y’s series at SubCulture, a new downtown music venue in New York. Their collaborators include artists such as Leon Fleisher, Jon Nakamatsu, Awadagin Pratt, Gary Hoffman, Atar Arad, James Dunham, and Zuill Bailey.
A vibrant member of the San Francisco arts community, the Cypress Quartet dedicates itself to reflecting and enriching the city’s cultural landscape through collaborations with the de Young Museum, San Francisco Girls Chorus, and ODC-Dance. As part of its efforts to support and promote Bay Area arts and music, the CSQ self-curates a Salon Series held in intimate, exquisite spaces in Berkeley, San Francisco, and Palo Alto. Now in its third season, the CSQ Salon Series features the masterworks of the string quartet cannon as well as the CSQ commissions.
The Cypress Quartet members received degrees from many of the world’s finest conservatories before coming together as a quartet. These include The Juilliard School, Guildhall School of Music & Drama and the Royal College of Music (London), The Cleveland Institute of Music, Indiana University, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. After a residency at the Banff Centre and a fellowship at the Center for Advanced Quartet Studies of the Aspen Music Festival, the Quartet coached intensively in London with the Amadeus Quartet. Cypress members count the Cleveland and Juilliard Quartets as some of their greatest influences.
The members of the Cypress Quartet play exceptional instruments including violins by Antonio Stradivari (1681) and Carlos Bergonzi (1733), a viola by Vittorio Bellarosa (1947), and a cello by Hieronymus Amati II (1701). The Cypress Quartet takes its name from the set of twelve love songs for string quartet, Cypresses, by Antonin Dvořák.
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