Cypress String Quartet makes Cookeville first stop on regional tour

thumb_Cypress_String2010Members of the quartet are Cecily Ward, violin;
Tom Stone, violin; Ethan Filner, viola; and
Jennifer Kloetzel, cello.
The Cypress String Quartet performs three concerts in Tennessee and Kentucky in October, including a new piece for string quartet composed by Elena Ruehr and based on Nashville author Ann Patchett's novel, Bel Canto.

Performances are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21, at Tennessee Tech University's Wattenbarger Auditorium in the Bryan Fine Arts Building, 1150 N. Dixie Ave. The performance is part of TTU's Center Stage concert series and is free and open to the public.

Additional performances are scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, at Pollard Auditorium, 210 Badger Ave., Oak Ridge, presented by the Oak Ridge Civic Music Association, and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 24, at the Singletary Center for the Arts, 126 Singletary Center, Lexington, Ky., presented by the Chamber Music Society of Central Kentucky.

In addition to Bel Canto, the concerts include Glazunov's Novelettes and Beethoven's String Quartet Op. 130 with the Große Fuge.

Known for their elegant performances, the San Francisco-based Cypress String Quartet's sound has been called "beautifully proportioned and powerful" by The Washington Post, and the ensemble has been singled out by Chamber Music Magazine as "a Generation X ensemble to watch."

The Cypress formed in 1996 in San Francisco and during its first rehearsals together created a now-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.

To explore the relationship between literature and music, the Cypress Quartet commissioned a new work from noted Boston composer Elena Ruehr earlier this year. Ruehr chose the best-selling novel Bel Canto by Ann Patchett of Nashville as the inspiration for her new piece. The commission of Bel Canto from Ruehr is part of the Cypress Quartet's annual Call & Response program, which was born out of the Cypress's commitment to present music as a dynamic and ongoing process of inspiration. Each year, the ensemble selects two works from the standard string quartet repertoire (the call) and commissions a third work (the response). Bel Canto was premiered in San Francisco in February 2010.

The Cypress is recording the six quartets written by Beethoven between 1822 and 1826 for commercial release. The second disc of this three-volume set was released in August and includes Beethoven's String Quartet in B-flat Major, Op. 130 and the Große Fuge, which the quartet will perform on this tour. Volume one of the set was released in August 2009.

About the Cypress Quartet: The Cypress String Quartet's unusual approach to their career is informed by their fierce dedication to the ensemble. Violinists Cecily Ward and Tom Stone were studying in San Francisco when the quartet came together. Jennifer Kloetzel and Ethan Filner relocated to San Francisco to form the group, and the foursome made a commitment to each other to only perform as a quartet (meaning that they would not take on teaching or freelance jobs as orchestral members or with other chamber ensembles). They realized early on that they needed to create their own performance opportunities and organized as a non-profit – the Cypress Performing Arts Association. Eventually, they hired a small administrative staff. The Cypress Quartet takes its name from the set of 12 love songs for string quartet, The Cypresses, by Antonin Dvořák.