Wittenberg Music Professor To Perform With Award-Winning Cypress String Quartet
Springfield, Ohio – It went so well the first time that members of the innovative, award-winning Cypress String Quartet have agreed to a return engagement at Wittenberg University. Nearly five years after a 2006 Wittenberg University performance, the Cypress String Quartet will take the stage again with Christopher Durrenberger, concert pianist and associate professor of music. The performance, which is open to the public free of charge, begins 3 p.m. Sunday, March 27, in Wittenberg’s Krieg Hall.
The concert program includes “Five Novelettes, Op. 15” by 19th century Russian composer Alexander Glazunov, “Piano Quartet in C Minor, Op. 60” by famed 19th century German composer Johannes Brahms, “String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat Major, Op. 130” (with the “Grobe Fuge, Op. 133”), widely recognized as one of the greatest works for string quartet, by the incomparable Ludwig van Beethoven.
“I’m very pleased to welcome back this fine ensemble and collaborate with them again,” said Durrenberger, who recently returned from a chamber music tour of China. “They are one of the best string quartets currently performing in America.”
In addition to the performance, members of the Cypress String Quartet – including Cecily Ward, violin, Tom Stone, violin, Ethan Filner, viola, and Jennifer Kloetzel, cello – will conduct a Guest Artist Masterclass at 3 p.m. Friday, March 25, also in Krieg Hall.
Known for its elegant performances, the 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.” In August 2009, the Cypress released the first of a three-volume set, a recording of Beethoven’s Late Quartets Op. 131 and 135 to critical acclaim. Volume Two was released in August 2010, and the third disc will be released during the Quartet’s 15th-anniversary season, 2011-12.
The Cypress String Quartet formed in 1996 in San Francisco. From the beginning, 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). In order to realize their artistic vision, they decided early on to organize as a non-profit – the Cypress Performing Arts Association – rather than signing with a management agency. Eventually, they hired a small administrative staff.
Now, on top of a busy schedule of more than 90 concerts each year at venues across the United States and internationally, including major concert halls and series such as the Kennedy Center, Library of Congress, Stanford Lively Arts, Krannert Center and Ravinia Festival, the Cypress String Quartet is a vibrant member of the San Francisco arts community and is dedicated to reflecting and enriching the city’s cultural landscape.
Through its Call & Response commissioning and outreach program, the Cypress String Quartet has created a dialogue between the old masters and living composers, performing known and loved repertoire in a fresh context and introducing ground-breaking new works to the chamber music genre. The Cypress String Quartet has commissioned this year’s Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award-winning composer Jennifer Higdon, Benjamin Lees, George Tsontakis, Elena Ruehr and many others as part of this project. Over just a decade, the Cypress String Quartet has commissioned and premiered more than 30 new works, four of which are now included on Chamber Music America’s list of 101 Great American Ensemble Works.
Cypress String Quartet members trained individually at some of the world’s foremost music institutions, including The Juilliard School, Interlochen Arts Academy, Cleveland Institute of Music, Guildhall School of Music & Drama and the Royal College of Music. They play exceptional instruments, including violins by Antonio Stradivarius (1681) and Carlos Bergonzi (1733), a viola by Vittorio Bellarosa (1947) and a cello by Hieronymus Amati II (1701). The Cypress String Quartet takes its name from the set of 12 love songs for string quartet, “The Cypresses,” by Antonin Dvořák.
For more information and the Cypress String Quartet’s most up to date concert schedule, visit www.cypressquartet.com.
Durrenberger has been teaching at Wittenberg since 1999, and he has also served as music reviewer and judge for the Chamber Music Yellow Springs concert series and competition for more than a decade. He first met the Cypress String Quartet at their concert appearance there in 2004.
Durrenberger has earned top prizes in such major national and international competitions as the Coleman and Carmel Chamber Music Competitions, the Los Angeles Etude Musical Club Piano Competition, the Young Keyboard Artists Association International Piano Competition and the National Music Teachers Association National Piano Competition. He has performed throughout the world in venues ranging from the Capital Theater at the Riffe Center in Columbus to the Cairo Opera House in Cairo, Egypt.
Durrenberger, who earned a bachelor of music from Oberlin College and a master’s and doctorate of musical arts with honors from the University of Southern California School of Music, traveled to mainland China last summer as he presented a series of master classes at major universities and conservatories in Shenyang, Dalian and the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. A year ago, Durrenberger made a return appearance with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra at Kuss Auditorium of the Clark State Community College Performing Arts Center, where he performed Lowell Liebermann’s Second Piano Concerto.
Written By: Ryan Maurer
Durrenberger Photo By: Robert Gantt