Cypress String Quartet celebrates the 11th year of their Call and Response program tonight at the Herbst theater. They’re one of a handful of San Francisco performing arts organizations that actually commissions new work. For this unique program they commission a composer to write a piece in response to their “call” (i.e. an existing piece in their repertoire.) This is particularly fitting for a quartet that spends equal amounts of time with new music and established classics, possessing an ear for both.
This time around they break a bit from their established m.o. and add a level of indirection. They’ve commissioned a piece inspired by literature, similar to the way two pieces in their repertoire have been inspired by the written word. Elena Ruehr‘s Bel Canto is a response to Ann Patchett’s best selling novel of the same name, and will share the program with Schubert’s Death and the Maiden (inspired by the lyrics to a song that Schubert wrote himself) and (which apparently was inspired by the written word, but I haven’t yet figured out how).
The Cypress String Quartet’s latest album “How She Danced” consists of three of Elena Ruehr’s other works for string quartet and has been in heavy rotation since I purchased it last month. (I was kinda hoping to have a more in depth review/analysis of it to post in time for the concert, but I’ve got a solo opera to prepare for this Sunday and my time has managed to slip away from me.)
Tickets are available at the City Box Office and are cheaper if you buy them in advance.