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    Wednesday, August 23, 2006

    Announcing the 2006-2007
    Music & Conversation Concert Season
    at SJSU

    MEDIA CONTACT: 415-681-9045


    Six events at San José State feature the Cypress Quartet, Erie Mills, Joe Frank, Zuill Bailey, Stone Zimmerman Duo, Luciana Souza, Antigoni Goni, Amit Peled

    Leading classical music innovators the Cypress String Quartet present one of the Bay Area’s most unusual and varied performance series, Music & Conversation, featuring six free performances from September 21 2006 through May 10 2007. Music & Conversation allows audience members to take a mid-day break to enjoy some of the world’s best young classical and jazz artists in performance followed by a free discourse offering insight into their work and process. 2006-2007 Music & Conversation dates and programs are listed below and each performance begins at 12:30pm in the Concert Hall of the SJSU Music Building, which is located on El Paseo de Cesar E.Chavez (Seventh Street), SJSU Campus, info hotline: 408-924-4675.

    Originated by the Cypress String Quartet, Music & Conversation is a joint presentation with San José State University and San Francisco in association with the SJSU School of Music and Dance’s “The Listening Hour” program.

    The Cypress String Quartet

    The Cypress String Quartet has captivated audiences around the world with virtuoso performances. Featured in Chamber Music Magazine as a “Generation X ensemble to watch,” Quartet members Cecily Ward &Tom Stone, violins; Ethan Filner, viola; and Jennifer Kloetzel, cello; blend outstanding performance with innovative programming and exemplary leadership in music education and outreach.

    Since its inception in 1996, the Cypress String Quartet has built a respected body of new music, commissioning and premiering over 25 works from many of America’s leading composers. A piece commissioned last season came from 2005 Grawemeyer Award winning composer, George Tsontakis. Two other composers recently commissioned by the Cypress have been nominated for Grammy Awards for Best Classical Composition: Benjamin Lees (2003) and Jennifer Higdon (2004). Four Cypress-commissioned works appear on Chamber Music America’s list of “101 Great American Ensemble Works”.

    As Quartet-in-Residence at San José State University, the Cypress String Quartet’s strengths in performanceand education combine to serve the University and the greater Silicon Valley community. Named an Exemplary Arts Educator by the California Arts Council, the Quartet’s groundbreaking Call & Response program has impacted thousands of students in dozens of Bay Area schools. The Cypress has reached an estimated 100,000 students through educational activities including Native Americans in rural New Mexico and inner-city students in Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Chicago. In September 2004 the Cypress was selected by the Juilliard School for the McGraw-Hill Companies’ Robert Sherman Award for Music Education and Community Outreach in recognition of their national leadership in education.

    The Cypress is reaching out in new ways to ignite interest in chamber music. In the 2006-07 season, the Quartet melds tradition with technology in its premiere of Inspired by America, a multi-media collaboration with best-selling author Jacob Needleman and Emmy Award-winning film maker Michael Schwarz. Supported by funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, and blending live music, original film and the spoken word, this performance fuses precision playing with world-class technology to create an evocative, thought-provoking portrait of the American spirit. Inspired by America debuts at the Lied Center of Kansas and the Krannert Center at the University of Illinois in January 2007.


    Vocalists Joe Frank and Erie Mills September 21

    Erie Mills has received critical and popular acclaim throughout the world, dazzling audiences with her sparkling coloratura voice, captivating personality, and vivid portrayals of operatic roles. Tenor Joseph Frank has long specialized in the lyric character tenor repertoire. He appears regularly with leading opera companies, and his recent appearances include The Marriage of Figaro for the Austin Lyric Opera; Die Fledermaus for San Diego Opera; Boris Godunov in Toulouse, France; Madama Butterfly and Turandot for the Pittsburgh Opera; and the world premiere of Nicholas and Alexandra with the Los Angeles Opera. Ms. Mills and Mr. Frank will be accompanied by Dr. Gwendolyn Mok, head of Keyboard studies at San Jose State University.

    Erie Mills, soprano Joe Frank, tenor Gwendolyn Mok, piano

    Stone-Zimmerman Duo October 19

    The Stone-Zimmermann Duo has been captivating audiences with their blend of superb musicianship, ravishing sound and profound interpretations. German violinist Iris Stone is a member of the New Century Chamber Orchestra and has recently performed and recorded with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra on the EMI label. Swiss Pianist Eva-Maria Zimmermann maintains a career on two continents. She has appeared at festivals in Israel, the US and Europe.

    Stone-Zimmerman duo

    Zuill Bailey and the Cypress String Quartet November 21

    A multi-faceted musician of consummate virtuosity, Zuill Bailey has established himself as one of the most sought-after and active cellists today. He continues his collaboration with trio partners, pianist Navah Perlman and violinist Giora Schmidt. Mr. Bailey made his Carnegie Hall debut with the U.S. premiere of Miklos Theodorakis’ Rhapsody for Cello and Orchestra. He performs on a 1693 Matteo Goffriller cello, formerly owned by Mischa Schneider of the Budapest Quartet.

    www.zuillbailey.com www.cypressquartet.com

    Luciana Souza March 1

    Three-time Grammy nominee Luciana Souza hails from São Paulo, Brazil, where she began her recording career at age three. A successful jazz career includes records with some of the greatest artists of our time. In 2005, she was awarded Female Jazz Singer of the Year, by the Jazz Journalists Association. She currently teaches at Manhattan School of Music, in New York.


    Antigoni Goni March 15

    Greek guitarist Antigoni Goni enjoys a truly international career. She is a professor of Guitar at the Royal Conservatory in Brussels, Artist-in -residence for San Francisco Performances, founded the guitar department at Columbia University and holds an honorary position at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Winner of the Guitar Foundation of America Competition, Ms. Goni contracts with Naxos Records, for whom she has recorded three highly successful CDs.


    Amit Peled with the Cypress String Quartet May 10

    Israeli cellist Amit Peled is an internationally recognized soloist. In addition to continuing his Beethoven Cycle of performances and recordings in Israel,USA, Spain and Germany, Mr. Peled will record the "Russian Evening" project on DVD. As an advocate of Israeli music, Mr. Peled has just released a Cello Concerto by Mark Kopytman with the Tel Aviv Soloists under the JMC label. Mr. Peled plays a rare Andrea Guarneri Cello ca. 1689.

    www.amitpeled.com www.cypressquartet.com

    Admission to Music & Conversation performances is free of charge.

    For more information call 415-681-9045 or visit www.cypressquartet.com

    Saturday, August 19, 2006

    New This Season: Inspired By America

    Supported by funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, Inspired by America is a ground-breaking interdisciplinary program that fuses live chamber music performed by the critically acclaimed Cypress String Quartet with an original film based on Dr. Jacob Needleman’s best-selling book, The American Soul. The film, directed by Emmy and Peabody Award winner Michael Schwarz , features American masterpieces of art, landscapes, narration, news footage, readings, other images and forms of music reflecting the depth and diversity of the American story.

    The overall theme and subject of Inspired by America could not be more relevant to our country today. In the aftermath of 9/11 and with growing cultural divisions among us, Inspired by America invites audiences to reflect on the central question – What does it mean to be an American? By tracing our common ideals from the inception of our nation through the events that have shaped and impacted our nation’s history, our goal is to reacquaint our country’s citizens with our cultural diversity, but also with our community as Americans.

    Dr. Needleman’s book sets the tone for the journey, beginning with the ideals of the Founding Fathers. The unique spirit of America is examined in light of other culturally formative influences, including the poetry of Walt Whitman, the words of Frederick Douglas, Sojourner Truth, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King. The impacts of the destruction of Native American culture, slavery, our experience in Vietnam, and other transformational events are also explored in the context of the promise America has represented for waves of immigrants and the world. Reknowned documentary producer Ken Burns comments, "Needleman takes us on an amazing spiritual journey to the very heart of those who like to call themselves American."

    Augmented by professional sound and lighting, the Cypress provides the unifying force for the performance with some of the finest chamber music composed in the United States, with movements from pieces such as Barber’s Adagio for Strings, Dvorak’s American Quartet, Griffes’ Two Sketches on Native American Themes and Gershwin’s Lullaby. Selections from recent Cypress original commissions from noted contemporary American composers are also featured, including 2005 Grawemeyer Award winner George Tsontakis and Grammy-nominated composers Benjamin Lees and Jennifer Higdon.

    Educational activities springing from the performance will give people of all ages and backgrounds multiple opportunities to deepen and extend the impact of Inspired by America.

    An educational website is being developed with funding and assistance from the Lied Center of Kansas, using the Internet to disemminate an Inspired by America lesson plan to educators across the country. A similar web-based system was conceived and produced by the Cypress Quartet and the Lied Centers of Kansas and Nebraska as part of a very successful four-week Cypress String Quartet performance and outreach tour of both states in the fall of 2004.

    Interdisciplinary residency and community outreach programs will be created in conjunction with various presenting organizations around the country, featuring university level coursework as well as visits to K-12 schools. These activities will explore the rich interrelationship of great American chamber music to other disciplines, including history, political science, and literature.

    The Cypress Performing Arts Association has put together a very talented and seasoned team of Bay Area professionals to produce and promote Inspired by America, including:

    - Michael Schwarz: Emmy and Peabody Award winning film director/producer

    - Dr. Jacob Needleman: best-selling author/philosopher

    - Cypress String Quartet: critically acclaimed national touring ensemble

    - Jack Carpenter: award winning stage lighting and set designer

    - Mark Willsher: sound engineer, Associate Music producer for The Lord of the Rings, Two Towers and The Lord of the Rings, Return of the King

    - Jeff Black and Ellen Beveridge: Project Directors, University of Michigan MBA’s, experienced business managers in project development, finance and marketing

    Monday, April 17, 2006

    Cypress String Quartet on the Web

    The Cypress String Quartet has recently joined MySpace.com! Visit the following to see the latest:

    Coming up April 28 and April 29 2006 are our 7th Annual Call & Response Concerts.

    Friday April 28 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum,
    7:00pm pre-concert talk by Composer George Tsontakis
    7:30pm Performance
    (Reception to follow)

    Saturday April 29 at Le Petit Trianon in San Jose,
    8:00pm Performance
    Post-Concert Q&A session with the performers and composer George Tsontakis

    This year's program features:
    Beethoven Op.131
    Beethoven Op.135
    George Tsontakis String Quartet #5 (WORLD PREMIERE in SF APRIL 28)

    More information available at www.cypressquartet.com/CSQOVERVIEW.htm#April2006

    Saturday, April 08, 2006

    From tour: Pocatello, ID

    Mountains as backdrop to Pocatello, ID and Idaho State University, where we just performed a concert at the University's new giant Performing Arts Center. Beautiful hall, a pleasure to play in. Posted by Picasa

    Old But Exciting News from April 2005:

    Chamber Music America’s Chamber Music Magazine cover story featuring the Cypress String Quartet (April 2005)

    THIS ALSO JUST IN: Massachusetts House of Representatives Resloutions: “CONGRATULATING THE CYPRESS STRING QUARTET” (April 2005)

    Cypress String Quartet Season Calendar