Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Letters, Music, and Beethoven's Deathmask!

We now have materials we will be displaying in the lobby before and during the April 3 concert from the Beethoven Center and Library of Congress finalized, and it is a really interesting list.

Here are some of the items to look for--you can read about these and the rest of the items we will display on our website in the Exhibit Guide before coming to see the exhibit!

By and about Mendelssohn from the Library of Congress:

  • The first page of a letter and a drawing from Mendelssoh to his collaborator/friend Edward Devrient
  • A portrait of Mendelssohn
  • The first page of the Octet manuscript

By and about Beethoven from the Beethoven Center at San Jose State University:

  • A replica of Beethoven's death mask
  • The first edition of the score of Beethoven's Quartet Opus 135 (which will be performed on April 3 by the Cypress)
  • Two original manuscript letters from Beethoven to his publishers
  • Ivory tokens used as tickets to the Beethoven Quartet Society, which was established in 1845

Make sure you buy your tickets early for the concert on April 3 at the Herbst Theatre, and see the exhibit before it or during the intermission!

C&R 2009 Outreach Begins!

Tuesday morning this week we enjoyed the first two of some 15 school outreach visits we will be making to Bay Area schools leading up to the April 3rd Call & Response performance at Herbst Theatre.

First off: Davidson Middle School in San Rafael, then after a short rehearsal between presentations at a nearby supporter's house, we drove into Mill Valley to play for the orchestra class at Mill Valley Middle School. In the last several years we have had the good fortune of having so many great outreach partners we have had to pick and choose very carefully to make our schedule work - somehow this year we managed to pick up this brand new (to us!) school in Mill Valley, though we have known the teacher there for many years and were happy to meet up with her again at her new location. And of course, great kids too, with surprisingly sophisticated comments about what they heard in the final movement of Beethoven's Quartet Op.135.

Next Monday kicks off one of our busiest at-home weeks of outreach we've had in a while: 3 outreach activities on Monday in San Jose; 1 on Tuesday in San Mateoplus the evening's Bubble Lounge event in downtown San Francisco; 2 in Marin County on Wednesday; 3 in San Francisco on Thursday; and the Community Music Center noontime presentation on Saturday in SF's Mission district.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


I'm so excited for all of these upcoming events. As the "host" and "preconcert lecturer" I thought I'd share some insight to how I prepare for these things.
There are some things that I don't have to do, which one might start their prep work - and that's to get to know the ensemble and composer. Luckily I've heard the Cypress play quite a bit, both live and recordings. This is a major help, to sort of gauge their style and approach. If you don't know them or haven't heard them, that's okay, but I can really recommend that you pick up a recording of theirs if you come to the concert, or have been debating buying one of their cds off of the site or your local music store. One of my all time favorites is the Jennifer Higdon quartet called Impressions. I never get tired of hearing it!
They also have several other recordings which you would like, say Suk or Haydn? But again, you don't have to be an expert to come and enjoy Call and Response 2009...
As for the second part, I would normally go and find recordings/examples of the composer's music - but again, I really enjoy Kevin's music and have been listening to his stuff since 2004, so again, I sort of have his "style" in my ear.
I did ask for a reference copy of the score and recording of Lento Assai, so that I could delve deeper into the music before these concerts, and maybe ask something of Kevin or the quartet that might help you dear listener.
This I will enjoy this weekend, when I have some absolute quiet time and can just concentrate on the music. I will listen to the piece first, and then listen again with the score. I'll then make some notes and let it sit with me for a bit.
Next up is another listen and more questions, maybe an email or two to them about the piece, and we'll go from there.
There's lots of steps to go through, but these are the first basic ones...what would you do?

John Clare, classical broadcaster

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tickets On Sale NOW!

Tickets are now available for Call & Response concert!

Tickets from $7-$25 (+ ticket fee)
City Box Office, 180 Redwood Street, Suite 100, San Francisco
Tel: 415-392-4400

Friday, April 3, 2009 at 8pm
Herbst Theatre, War Memorial Building
401 Van Ness Avenue at McAllister Street

Mendelssohn, String Quartet in A Minor, Op. 13
Kevin Puts, Lento Assai (2009)
Beethoven, String Quartet in F Major, Op. 135

10th Anniversary - FREE EVENTS!

Chamber Music & Bubbles
Unwind after work to the melodies of the Cypress String Quartet at the luxurious Bubble Lounge. Bring your friends and enjoy the intimate concert environment of a true salon performance.

Tuesday, March 24, 6pm
Bubble Lounge, 714 Montgomery St, San Francisco
Reservations: 415.434.4204
Information: 415.585.9045

Community Music Center, San Francisco - Outreach Program
The Cypress String Quartet opens up their outreach presentation to the general public in this free event hosted by the Community Music Center. The Quartet discusses and deconstructs Mendelssohn & Beethoven’s masterworks and introduces Kevin Puts’ commissioned composition, Lento Assai. An excellent introduction for the novice or the connoisseur to gain insight into the concert program being performed at Herbst Theatre on April 3.

Saturday, March 28, 12 - 1pm
544 Capp Street, San Francisco
Reservations: 415.434.4202

Composing Thoughts LIVE - Kevin Puts
An in-depth discussion with Kevin Puts about composing and his latest work, Lento Assai. Lead by radio announcer and classical music aficionado John Clare, this interview-style event will include a live performance by the Cypress String Quartet as well as the opportunity for questions directly from audience members.

Thursday, April 2, 6 - 7.30pm
Mechanics’ Institute, 57 Post Street, San Francisco

A free exhibit of letters, manuscripts, and other artifacts from Felix Mendelssohn, Ludwig Van Beethoven and Kevin Puts will be on display in the lobby of the theater. The exhibit will include examples from the Library of Congress of Mendelssohn’s letters and ink sketches as well as the first page of music manuscript from his famous Octet.

Friday, April 3, 6.30-10pm
Lobby, War Memorial Building
401 Van Ness Avenue at McAllister Street

Monday, February 23, 2009

Celebrate 10 years

Friday April 3rd, 2009
Call & Response 2009
10th Anniversary
Herbst Theater
Mendelssohn Quartet Op. 13
Kevin Puts Lento Assai
Beethoven Quartet Op. 135
San Francisco, CA

Sunday April 5th, 2009
3 PM Montalvo Arts Center
Kevin Puts Quartet
Saratoga, CA

Past composers

Composer Kurt Rohde wrote “Gravities” in response to Bartok’s Quartet No. 6 and Haydn’s Quartet Op. 77, No. 2.

Composer Daniel Asia created his Quartet No. 3, “The Seer” in response to Dvorak’s “American” Quartet and Two Sketches for String Quartet Based on Native American Themes by Charles Tomlinson Griffes.

Composer George Tsontakis wrote String Quartet No. 5 in response to Ludwig Van Beethoven’s String Quartet in F Major, Op. 135 and his String Quartet in C sharp Minor, Op. 131.

Elena Ruehr composed String Quartet No. 4, inspired by Mozart’s K.465 “Dissonant” and Beethoven’s Quartet Op. 59 No.3.

Jeffrey Cotton wrote String Quartet No. 1 in response to Haydn Op. 33, No. 5 in G Major and the Mozart K. 421 in D Minor.

Jennifer Higdon created Impressions, inspired by Ravel’s String Quartet in F Major and Debussy’s String Quartet in G Minor.

Benjamin Lees created his String Quartet No. 5 in response to Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 11 and Britten’s String Quartet No. 3.

Composer Anna Weesner wrote her commissioned piece entitled Flux in response to Beethoven’s Quartet Op. 132 in A Minor and Mendelssohn’s Quartet Op.13, also in A Minor.

Composer Dan Coleman composed Quartet No. 1 in response to Mozart’s Quartet K. 464 and Beethoven’s Quartet, Op. 18 No. 5.


Generating New Music
Each year, the Cypress String Quartet selects two works from the standard quartet repertoire and commissions (the “call”) a third work (the “response”) based on inspiration from the two older works. By integrating the new music with the familiar, Call & Response explores how newly composed music weaves older works into its sounds, while reflecting trends and ideas of current times—a new composition is born!

Connecting with Students
The resulting Call & Response program is performed in San Francisco and surrounding areas for students of all levels and background and members of the community. The few weeks before each Call & Response performance, the Cypress String Quartet performs in-class presentations attended by the composer when possible. These outreach efforts deepen students’ interest and learning of chamber music and related themes. Scholarship tickets enable many of these students to attend the public performance free of charge, thus bringing together a concert community of varied ethnicity, age, and economic background.

Reaching the Community
The outreach presentations, pre-concert lectures and other activities that surround the series bring music into the community and introduce audiences to composers’ thought processes. With this series, the Cypress String Quartet creates a public forum where a broad group of people can come together and share in the universal meaning of music. Parents, teachers, families, and students attend evening performances to witness the world premiere of the new composition.