String quartet to perform tonight

Daily Kansan
By Daniel Johnson
October 28, 2009

Tom Stone's creative impulses surge when he plays violin at the Lied Center. He loves the way the notes sound in the building.

"You can do anything with sound in that room," Stone said. "We can make the softest whisper on our violins or create a really strong and forceful sound."

Stone, a violinist with the Cypress String Quartet, will perform at 7:30 p.m. tonight in the Lied Center. The performance will be a unique one for the group, which is playing in more than 90 venues this year. The quartet will perform an original piece commissioned by the Lied Center and the Library of Congress for only the second time.

The group will perform "Lento Assai," a project financed in part by the Lied Center. The work is a product of the quartet's annual "call and response" series. For the series, the quartet enlists a contemporary composer to create a musical reaction to major classical works. The pieces are composed specifically for the quartet to perform.

This year, the group employed New York City composer Kevin Puts to write a piece in response to Mendelssohn's first string quartet and Beethoven's last string quartet.

Stone said "Lento Assai", the final product of this collaboration, invoked deep and passionate feelings.

"It's incredibly beautiful, lyrical and even romantic," Stone said.

Tim Van Leer, Lied Center executive director, said the Lied Center was proud to contribute to the creation of new music, especially through musicians as gifted as the Cypress String Quartet. He said he hoped bringing them to the Lied Center would allow students and the community to hear a set of music they might never hear otherwise. He also said it was a good introduction for students feeling timid about an evening of chamber music.

"Come out for the first half and see what you think," Van Leer said. "And then if you like what you hear, stay for the whole thing."

Stone said the Lied Center's effect on music reached far beyond West Campus. He said the commissioning of pieces such as "Lento Assai" was responsible for the development and innovation of American music.

"It's organizations like the Lied Center that are responsible for a lot of the most important new art that comes out of the America," Stone said. "We are delighted to come perform there."

Andrew Linn, St. Louis senior and music major, said he planned to attend tonight's performance.

"I've heard good things about them," Linn said. "I think it will be time well spent."

Although it is mixed within a busy touring schedule, tonight's performance will recognize the Lied Center's support for the quartet.

"They are extremely talented musicians that always create unique programs for our audiences," Van Leer said.

The San Francisco-based string quartet is in its 13th year of performances and tonight will mark the quartet's third performance at the University. The group is made up by two violinists, a violist and cellist. Four of the group's pieces are included on Chamber Music America's list of "101 Great American Ensemble Works."

— Edited by Tim Burgess

Cypress String Quartet
The Cypress String Quartet presents "A Celebration of Mendelssohn"
Where: The Lied Center
When: 7:30 p.m. tonight
Tickets are $24 for adults and $8 for students and children. They can be purchased at the Lied Center ticket office or online at