Photo By: Kathryn Tomaino/Special to the Town Crier
The Cypress String Quartet basks in audience applause during their Dec. 4 Morning Forum of Los Altos performance.
Internationally acclaimed classical chamber music ensemble Cypress String Quartet performed at Morning Forum of Los Altos Dec. 4, providing the audience the rare treat of hearing exceptional instruments beautifully played. Antonio Stradivarius (1681) and Carlos Bergonzi (1733) made the violins, Vittorio Bellarosa (1947) the viola and Hieronymus Amati II (1701) the viola.
The ensemble comprises Cecily Ward (first violin), Tom Stone (second violin), Ethan Filner (viola) and Jennifer Kloetzel (cellist). They have been playing together since 1996. Based in San Francisco, the group travels approximately 100 days each year performing at other venues and events, including Cal Performances, The John F. Kennedy Center, the Library of Congress, The Stanford Lively Arts, the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and the Ravinia Festival in Chicago.
The quartet is named after “The Cypresses,” an Antonin Dvorák composition of 12 love poems for string quartet. They performed the first three movements of the masterwork for the Morning Forum audience, which are playful, enchanting, elegant and melodious – but rarely performed. Stone said they are a joy to play.
The quartet has an affinity for Dvorák’s music. A butcher’s son, Dvorák was born in 1841 in Prague (then the Austrian Empire, now the Czech Republic). He taught and composed in the United States for some years and is credited with securing full scholarships for Appalachian and Afro-American musicians, whose folk melodies he believed inspired American music.
Dvorák created a new, uniquely American musical voice, incorporating folk songs and their harmonic and rhythmic aspects. His “American Quartet” is very American. Dvorák’s pieces are unique, yet maintain string quartet tradition of distinct voices for each instrument. Haydn forged his democratic view of music in his own quartets in the late 1700s.
Like its favorite composer, the Cypress String Quartet is dedicated to musical education. Members have collaborated with the de Young Museum and the San Francisco Girls Chorus and perform at many schools, both in the U.S. and internationally. The group has commissioned and premiered more than 30 pieces, available in the many recordings of the Cypress String Quartet.
The Morning Forum of Los Altos is a members-only lecture series that meets at Los Altos United Methodist Church. For more information and membership details, visit www.morningforum.com.