Known for its elegant performances, the Cypress String Quartet (Cecily Ward, violin; Tom Stone, violin; Ethan Filner, viola; and Jennifer Kloetzel, cello) has been praised by Gramophone for its “artistry of uncommon insight and cohesion,” and its sound has been called “beautifully proportioned and powerful” by The Washington Post. The Cypress Quartet was formed in San Francisco in 1996, and during its initial rehearsals the group created a 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. The Cypress String Quartet has added several new recordings to its extensive discography in recent years. In March 2012 and February of 2013 respectively, the Quartet released the complete three-CD set of Beethoven’s Late Quartets, which was named Best Classical CD of 2012 by the Dallas Morning News, and an all-Dvořák disc on the AVIE record label featuring Cypresses, B. 152 (the work from which the ensemble draws its name) and String Quartet in G, Op. 106. The album has garnered significant attention and is being featured on Sirius XM and PRI Classical, and was chosen as a CD of the Week on WQXR in New York. In May 2014, the Cypress released a recording of Schubert’s String Quintet D956 with cellist Gary Hoffman paired with Schubert’s Quartettsatz D703, also on AVIE. The New York Times called the album a “tender, deeply expressive interpretation.” The Cypress continues to maintain a busy national and international tour schedule, making appearances on concert series and in venues including Cal Performances, Kennedy Center, Library of Congress, Stanford Lively Arts, Krannert Center and Ravinia Festival. Their collaborators include artists such as Leon Fleisher, Jon Nakamatsu, Awadagin Pratt, Gary Hoffman, Atar Arad, James Dunham, and Zuill Bailey. Through its signature Call & Response program the Cypress Quartet commissions and premieres new string quartets from both emerging and celebrated composers, asking them to write in response to established chamber repertoire. Call & Response creates a dynamic dialogue between the past and present, between performers and composers, and among audiences of all ages. The Cypress Quartet’s annual Call & Response concert has earned a strong West Coast following and is preceded by community outreach throughout the Bay Area in public libraries, unorthodox spaces, and schools. In addition, the Cypress frequently tours Call & Response repertoire, bringing these new works to cities across the country. To date, the Cypress Quartet has commissioned and premiered over 30 pieces, four of which were chosen for Chamber Music America’s list of “101 Great American Ensemble Works.” Commissioned composers include Benjamin Lees, Jennifer Higdon, Kevin Puts, George Tsontakis, and Elena Ruehr. A vibrant member of the San Francisco arts community, the Cypress String Quartet dedicates itself to reflecting and enriching the city’s cultural landscape through collaborations with the de Young Museum, San Francisco Girls Chorus, and ODC-Dance. As part of its efforts to support and promote Bay Area arts and music, the CSQ self-curates a Salon Series held in intimate, exquisite spaces in Berkeley, San Francisco, and Palo Alto. Now in its fourth season, the CSQ Salon Series features the masterworks of the string quartet canon as well as CSQ commissions. The Cypress Quartet members received degrees from many of the world’s finest conservatories before coming together as a quartet. These include The Juilliard School, Guildhall School of Music & Drama and the Royal College of Music (London), The Cleveland Institute of Music, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and Indiana University. After a residency at the Banff Centre and a fellowship at the Center for Advanced Quartet Studies of the Aspen Music Festival, the Quartet coached intensively in London with the Amadeus Quartet. Cypress members count the Cleveland and Juilliard Quartets as some of their greatest influences. The members of the Cypress Quartet play exceptional instruments including violins by Antonio Stradivari (1681) and Carlos Bergonzi (1733), a viola by Vittorio Bellarosa (1947), and a cello by Hieronymus Amati II (1701). The Cypress Quartet takes its name from the set of twelve love songs for string quartet, Cypresses, by Antonin Dvořák.