EXAMINER.COM: Cypress String Quartet will celebrate their twenty-year legacy by disbanding

January 21, 2016
Stephen Smoliar

This morning the Cypress String Quartet (CSQ) of violinists Cecily Ward and Tom Stone, violist Ethan Filner, and cellist Jennifer Kloetzel announced that their ensemble will disband this coming summer. On June 26 in the Green Room of the War Memorial Building, they will present a Farewell Concert honoring their twenty fulfilling years of performing as a group. This was a mutual decision among all four members that came after a great deal of reflection and discussion. They are deeply grateful to vast numbers of fans, donors, fellow musicians, and presenters for the support they have received over these past twenty years. read more »

NAPA VALLEY REGISTER: Cypress plays Saturday at Jarvis

Source: Napa Valley Register
January 20, 2016
David Kerns

The Cypress String Quartet is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Based in San Francisco, the foursome has performed throughout North America, Europe and Japan, and along the way recorded 15 albums. In the second of a series of three concerts at Jarvis Conservatory, Cypress will play three Beethoven quartets this Saturday evening, Jan. 23. Jennifer Kloetzel, cellist and one of the founding members, talked about the quartet’s anniversary. “We are celebrating it all season,” she said, “and our celebrations mostly hinge around Beethoven. In May, we’re releasing the entire Beethoven cycle, all 16 quartets, on our record label. That’s a project that’s been going on since about 2007. “Over our 20 years together, our work has been to explore and capture and re-envision and bring Beethoven into today. We did the full cycle in Prague, Vienna and Budapest in late October, early November. That was sort of the kickoff for this big celebration.” “In May, we’re doing a special project in San Francisco,” Kloetzel said. “We will be performing each of the 16 quartets in a public location in each of the districts of the city. Some will be big — Golden Gate Bridge in the background kind of thing — and some will be in a soup kitchen or an arts festival or other locations. They’ll be free, open to the public and pop-up style. ‘Come hear Opus 18, # 2 in City Hall on this day at this time.’ “I feel like it’s part of our mission to get the music out there and make people less afraid of it, or feel less like they don’t know anything about it. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that people love good music, regardless of whether it’s Beethoven or Dixieland.” The Cypress String Quartet is Kloetzel on cello, Cecily Ward and Tom Stone on violins, and Ethan Filner on viola. “Three of us are the original founding members,” Kloetzel said. “Ethan, our violist, we still tease him and call him 'the new guy' 15 years later." The cellist talked about longevity among chamber ensembles and the importance of continuity of the musicians. “There’s the Amadeus Quartet, who were one of our models,” she said. “They were together for 35 years, I believe, with the same four people who founded it. And there’s the Guarneri Quartet, another group that was together for a long period of time. “We are one of the groups in the U.S. who’ve had the same set of musicians for a while. What’s interesting about chamber music, really, is when you change any player you start from square one again, because you don’t have the repertoire with that player and hopefully that player has a unique voice and you’re all shaping the music together." Kloetzel recalled the challenge of incorporating a new violist after the group had been together for five years. “We felt like we had to start over again in a way,” she said. “We already had many performances under our belts and ideas about what we wanted to be as an ensemble. But making sure that we had equal voices was important. “It’s not just like, ‘Here’s this quartet. There’s an identity. You need to fit into it.’ It’s more like, ‘What do we want to be?’ I think that’s always the question. ‘Who are we? What are we moving to? What are our strengths? What are our goals? What are our ideals? Are we living up to them?’ That’s something we spend a lot of time talking about and figuring out together. “Something we decided early on was how important it was that there be consensus, and not compromise. We don’t have a conductor that we look to as the person who chooses the repertoire. We have an equal voice in there. It’s important, and consensus can take a long time.” The quartet most recently performed at Jarvis in October 2015. “I love this spot, the Jarvis Conservatory,” Kloetzel said. “It’s beautiful, a jewel of a theater. We’re so grateful to the Jarvises for building it and letting us play there. The concert hall is the fifth member of any quartet, and that’s a great one to hear this kind of music in." Reimagining Beethoven with Help from the Cypress String Quartet

Call & Response 2015, featuring Beethoven, Bartok, and Philippe Hersant, Reviewed

April 15, 2015
by Niels Swinkels

Three years ago, French composer Philippe Hersant was the first non-American composer to receive a commission from San Francisco’s Cypress String Quartet (CSQ) for its Call & Response series.

It had been more than 20 years since his previous excursions in the genre, and Hersant’s Quatuor à Cordes No. 3 was such a marvelous piece that I ended my review with the hope that we didn’t have wait another 20 years for one of his string quartets.

Lo and behold: Last Friday, Hersant’s equally delightful String Quartet no. 4 Der Gestirnte Himmel (The Starry Sky) had its world premiere at the Marine’s Memorial Theatre in downtown San Francisco as part of CSQ’s 16th annual Call & Response.

Hersant, born in 1948, is not the first composer to be commissioned twice for Call & Response; George Tsontakis, Jennifer Higdon, Jeffery Cotton, and Elena Ruehr preceded him. But he is still the only non-American composer on the list, and the first one to be re-commissioned after only three years. read more »

Warendorf, Germany review 2014

November 17, 2014
Warendorf -


Was für ein schönes Programm! Und welch wunderbare Musiker, die es ihrem Publikum sozusagen auf dem Silbertablett servierten! Das Galerie-Konzert am Sonntag im Sophiensaal geriet zu einem der vielen Höhepunkte der traditionsreichen Reihe, denn mit dem „Cypress“-Streichquartett aus San Franciso saß ein Ensemble auf dem Podium, das vom ersten Moment an faszinierte. read more »

Ostbevern, Germany review 2014

November 11, 2014
Ostbevern, Germany

Cypress in Ostbevern

Von Axel Engels
Zum 25-jährigen Jubiläum des Vereins „Loburger Schlosskonzerte“ gab man sich am Sonntagabend im Rittersaal ganz „amerikanisch“. Als Ehrengast konnte auch Leo Wolters, der das erste Konzert am 9. November 1958 organisiert hatte, an diesem Abend durch die exquisite Musizierkunst des „Cypress String Quartet“ aus San Franciso, Kalifornien, erleben, welch hohes Niveau diese Konzertreihe erreicht hat. read more »

All Classical Portland: Taking the “Middle” road – Beethoven Middle String Quartets

by John Pitman

When I think of Beethoven’s 15 string quartets, which are works that represent the whole of the composer’s adult life, I liken them to taking a long trek up a mountain. If Opus 18 is the trailhead and the first few miles, the “middle period” quartets of Opp. 59, 74 and 95 are when the trail starts a steeper incline, and the “late period” works lead us to the summit. As a group that formed nearly 20 years ago, the San Francisco-based Cypress String Quartet decided to go straight for the higher altitude, and recorded the final quartets first. With their new 3-CD set, cellist Jennifer Kloetzel explains why in my audio blog about their newest CD of Beethoven’s “Razumovsky” works, and violinist Tom Stone delves into the meanings of this music for their group throughout their career.


Cypress Quartet Teams up with the Buck Institute to Fight Breast Cancer


The Buck Insitute For Research On Aging

8001 Redwood Blvd., Novato 94945

Presents the


Sunday, September 21, 2014 at 3 PM



Two Sketches Based on Indian Themes -- Charles Griffes

Lento Assai -- Kevin Puts

String Quartet No. 12 in F, Op. 96 "American" -- Antonin Dvorak

Tickets are $250 and a portion is tax deductible. Ticket sales are nonrefundable.

Seating is very limited.

Doors open at 2 PM. Light refreshments will be served prior to the performance.

Location: The Drexler Auditorium at The Buck Institute, 8001 Redwood Blvd, Novato, CA 94945

Proceeds from this performance will benefit breast cancer research in the Buck Institute lab of Christopher Benz, MD. Every woman is at risk for breast cancer. In this country about 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime - it is the second most common cause of cancer death, with about 40,000 women succumbing to the disease each year. While survival rates continue to improve, treatments often have a devastating effect on women’s health and wellbeing.

Dr. Benz is a practicing oncologist and researcher. He works from the lab bench to the bedside and engages the community in efforts to reduce the incidence of breast cancer by developing prevention strategies, and improving therapies for those already diagnosed with the disease. We are proud to have him on our faculty.

The Benz lab was among the first to study why age is the strongest of known risk factors for the development of breast cancer. Among other accomplishments, his lab developed a targeted therapeutic for the treatment of breast cancer that is already advancing through clinical trials and helping many women with metastatic breast cancer. Dr. Benz was also instrumental in organizing the Marin Women’s Study (MWS) in 2006, designed to identify lifestyle patterns and inherited characteristics contributing to the very high incidence of breast cancer in Marin County documented over the past two decades. The accomplishments and latest findings from the MWS have been the subject of much recent attention. If you are unable to attend, please consider making a gift to help support his research.


For more information, contact 415-493-3638, or


Are there ID requirements or an age limit to enter the event?
There is no age limit to attend the event. However, the event is targeted towards adults, so please use your best judgement in regards to accompanying minors.

Where is the Buck Institute?
Our address is 8001 Redwood Blvd, Novato, CA 94945, with our building located off of Redwood Blvd on Buck Center Drive. Click HERE for driving directions.

What are my transport/parking options getting to the event?
We strongly suggest our guests drive or take a taxi. There is no public transportation option that will drop attendees off at or near the Buck Institute.
Parking will be onsite. When you arrive at the Buck Institute, signs and parking attendants will direct you where to park.

What can/can't I bring to the event?
We do not allow outside food or drink at the event. Light refreshments will be offered in the hour prior to the concert in our atrium just outside the Drexler Auditorium, however, once doors open for the performance no food or drink (with the exception of bottled water) is allowed in the auditorium.
No video recording is allowed.
Please leave your pets at home.

Where can I contact the organizer with any questions?
Please contact us at 415-493-3638 or with any questions, or if you would like to purchase tickets by check.

Is my registration/ticket transferrable?
Yes. However, please make sure to contact us to let us know about name changes on the ticket or ticket group no later than Wednesday, September 17.

Can I update my registration information?
You can update registration information no later than Wednesday, September 17.

Do I have to bring a printed ticket to the event?
A printed ticket is not provided, as we will have all registrants on a list when you arrive at check in. However, we encourage you to bring a printed version of the confirmation email of your ticket purchase with you, just in case.

What is the refund policy?
Tickets are nonrefundable.

The name on the registration/ticket doesn't match the attendee. Is that okay?
This should be fine as long as the original attendee has contacted us about guest/name changes on the ticket/ticket group prior to Wednesday, September 17.

Are discount or child tickets available?
No. All tickets are $250 each.

What is the limit on the number of tickets I can purchase?
There is no cap, however please note that Eventbrite allows you to purchase 10 at most in one transaction. If you would like to purchase more, click back to the event page after your transaction is complete and go to the registration process again as needed. Please also note that there is a very limited amount of seats available in the auditorium. Tickets will be listed under the name of the registrant. (e.g. John Smith +1)

Have questions about the Cypress String Quartet's Performance to Benefit Breast Cancer Research? Contact The Buck Institute:
Buck Institute for Research on Aging
8001 Redwood Blvd.
Novato, CA 94945
Tel: 415-209-2000
Fax: 415-899-1810
E-mail: Avie Records releases a new Cypress String Quartet recording of Schubert

May 12, 2014
by Stephen Smoliar

avie2307.363Tomorrow Avie Records will release its latest recording (for which is currently taking pre-orders) of the Cypress String Quartet (CSQ), consisting of violinists Cecily Ward and Tom Stone, violist Ethan Filner, and cellist Jennifer Kloetzel. This is an all-Schubert disc featuring what is probably Franz Schubert’s most accomplished composition that did not involve a piano, his D. 956 quintet for two violins, viola, and two cellos in C major. For this recording CSQ is joined by cellist Gary Hoffman to become the appropriate quintet. The recording also includes an “encore track” of the D. 703 single movement for string quartet (“Quartettsatz”) in C minor. read more » The Cypress String Quartet concludes their 2013-14 Salon Series

Stephen Smoliar
SF Classical Music Examiner
May 11, 2014

Last night in the Joe Henderson Lab of the SFJAZZ Center, the Cypress String Quartet (CSQ), consisting of violinists Cecily Ward and Tom Stone, violist Ethan Filner, and cellist Jennifer Kloetzel, gave the final San Francisco performance in their three-concert Salon Series for the 2013–2014 season. This season’s theme was Slavic Soundscapes, and last night’s concert explored that theme through three composers from three centuries. The program opened with Joseph Haydn’s Hoboken III/79 quartet in D major, the fifth of a set of six dedicated to Count Joseph Erdödy (the “Slavic connection”), written between 1796 and 1797, This was followed by the twentieth-century offering, Czech composer Erwin Schulhoff’s first piece for string quartet, his Opus 14 divertimento, composed in 1914. The intermission was followed by Antonín Dvořák’s Opus 51 quartet in E-flat major, composed in 1878.

In spite of their separation in time, Haydn and Schulhoff were well coupled. Both approached composition with a clear sense of where the boundaries were and then devised their own innovative approaches for stepping over them. By the time Haydn returned to Vienna in 1795 he had experienced life as both servant to Nikolaus I, Prince Esterházy, and the public life of a professional musician promoted in England by Johann Peter Salomon. He returned to Vienna as a prosperous bourgeois, who could afford a large house in the Windmühle suburb and could pretty much write his own ticket. Nikolaus II invited him to return to Esterháza, which Haydn did, but only on a part-time basis during the summer. The quartets for Erdödy were written during those “summer breaks.” read more »

Audiophile Audition: Schubert Quintet and Quartettsatz Album review

SCHUBERT: String Quintet in C Major, D. 956; Quartet-Movement in C minor, D. 703 – Gary Hoffman, cello/ Cypress String Quartet – Avie AV2307, 63:17 [Distr. by Allegro] ****:

The Cypress String Quartet – Cecily Ward and Tom Stone, violins; Ethan Filner, viola; and Jennifer Kloetzel, cello – join eminent cellist Gary Hoffman for Schubert’s glorious 1828 C Major String Quintet (rec. 28-30 January 2013), another fine rendition among a plethora of available realizations. Besides the obviously warm ambiance resonating with these players, the nice balance between salon intimacy and the often grand sweep of the music has been carefully maintained, doubtless attributable to engineer Mark Willsher.

The late Schubert chamber works continue to astound us, given their mastery over large architectural design and harmonic progression, their idiosyncratic treatment of sonata-form here totally subjugated to a personal, often tragic, expressive vision. The addition of the extra cello to the quartet medium frees the instrument for its vocal capabilities while maintaining its deep resonance in an active bass line. The Cypress ensemble provides any number of delights in their transparent textures, all the while basking in Schubert’s often startling choice of modulations, especially his wonted love of the submediant interval. The first movement pays homage in its opening bars in semitonal shifts and later development in staccato to alternately, both Haydn’s Symphony No. 97 and Mozart’s C Major Viola Quintet, without sacrificing any of its own lyrico-dramatic powers. The wonderful E-flat Major melody, of course, sings to us of eternity, of the Byzantium we find in W.B. Yeats. read more »

Gramophone (UK) review, Jan.2014: The American Album

Click on the image below to view and read the complete review on

"The beautiful Lento Assai, a commission from the young American composer Kevin Puts, is well placed next to the Barber, with appealing similarities between the two (especially in the straining cello and viola lines); what the Puts lacks in intricacy of harmony and texture next to the Barber it more than makes up for in effect, and a vocal ine that sits harmoniously with a collection of humane performances that leaves this wonderful ensemble still frustratingly under the radar in this country." Caroline Gill

The Memorable Concerts of 2013

December 25, 2013
Stephen Smoliar
SF Classical Music Examiner

For those unaccustomed to my approach to reviewing the year, I should reemphasize that I have a strong aversion to rank-ordering...My own approach is to begin with the resources of my own memory while reviewing the list of all the events I covered over the course of the year. I then try to select what I feel was the most memorable experience for each of the twelve months of the year. read more »

Stereophile: The 5th Element #80 (excerpt)

Source: Stereophile, July 2013
posted online August 8, 2013
by John Marks

First, two noteworthy CDs. San Francisco's Cypress String Quartet, whose set of Beethoven's late quartets and high-resolution downloads I praised in the April issue, is back with a new CD (Avie AV2275) that explores their musical roots. The quartet takes its name from Anton°n Dvorák's early cycle of 18 love songs, Cypresses, which he composed in 1865, between his first and second symphonies. (The title is meant to evoke barren solitude.) Later in his career (1887), Dvorák transcribed 12 of the Cypresses songs for string quartet alone. read more »

Repeat Performances: Cypress Quartet at Herbst


Cypress String Quartet: World Premiere at Herbst

April 19, 2013
By Adam Broner Bridging the gap: bringing classical music to youthful audiences…

At last Friday’s concert by the Cypress String Quartet, gray-haired connoisseurs shared Herbst Theater with hundreds of enthusiastic middle and high school students. The “Call and Response” program of Dvorak, Schubert and contemporary composer Jennifer Higdon makes a fascinating story. But the back-story is even better. read more »

Stereophile: The Fifth Element #78 [excerpt]

Source: Stereophile, April 2013
by John Marks

Beethoven's Late String Quartets: New Recordings of Special Merit

...In a video chat with Cypress's first violinist, Cecily Ward, I asked how they came to record with such exotic microphones, and at Skywalker, no less. Her answer is sure to warm the cockles of audiophiles' hearts: "From the Quartet's point of view, we're all about what it sounds like. We have always gravitated toward the kind of clean sound we are now known for in our recordings." read more »

Phil’s Classical Reviews: Dvorak Cypresses, String Quartet No.13

Source: Phil’s Classical Reviews, Audio Video Club of Atlanta
April, 2013

Dvořák: “Cypresses,” String Quartet No. 13
Cypress String Quartet
Avie Records

As you might have guessed from the number of times I’ve covered this fine string quartet in Phil’s Classical Reviews, I’m rather fond of them. They are, by name, Cecily Ward and Tom Stone, violins; Ethan Filner, viola; and Jennifer Kloetzel, cello. Graduates of famous conservatories in England and America, the Cypress String Quartet are home-based in San Francisco. They are such an easy foursome to get to know and love that my own (admittedly idiosyncratic) pet name for them is “the Anglo-American Grille,” after the friendly eating place that Charles Laughton, as the title character, opened up in a wild west town in the classic Hollywood comedy of 1938, Ruggles of Red Gap. read more »

Audiophile Audition: Dvorak Cypresses & Quartet No.13

Source: Audiophile Audition Published on March 18, 2013
by Gary Lemco

DVORAK: Cypresses for String Quartet; String Quartet No. 13 in G Major, Op. 106 – Cypress String Quartet – Avie

The gorgeous talent of Antonin Dvorak in the string quartet medium has splendid accounts in this new addition to his cycle from the Cypress String Quartet.

The two quartet arrangements (rec. August-September 2012) by the Cypress Quartet derive from opposite extremes in the life of Antonin Dvorak, the 12 Cypresses (after the poet Moravsky (1833-1875) having been conceived in the ardor of first love during the 1860s, when Dvorak set his eye on Josefina Cermakova. Dvorak would arrange his original songs as quartet movements in 1887, then to be withheld from publication until 1921, when his son-in-law Josef Suk revised them. The first violin usually assumes the role of the melody line while the supporting instruments enrich the texture and deepen the harmonies. The G Major Quartet owes its conception to a period just after Dvorak’s 1895 permanent departure for Prague from New York as director of the new National Conservatory of Music. Dvorak had already begun his A-flat Quartet, Op. 105, but he laid it aside to devote five weeks to the G Major’s completion. read more » Musically, Mining Gems in the Ruehr Region

October 6, 2012
by Paul Hertelendy

A profound new string quartet was unveiled here at the Old First Concerts, deserving a much wider audience than the smattering of folks turning up at Old First Concerts on a balmy Tuesday night.

This was the premiere of Elena Ruehr’s String Quartet No. 6, a 25-minute opus more engrossing than other works of hers we had encountered with her West Coast performers of the Cypress String Quartet. Like the entire program that night, it showed influences of Beethoven, especially in counterpoint, use of contrasts, and delivery of concurrent messages. It spotlighted shifting rhythms, animation, pairings of violins (was Borodin lurking backstage?), robust solos for cello and viola, swooping melismas, even some syncopation and pizzicato. There are many moods, as if you entered a giant greenhouse and found, in each chamber, a distinct population of alluring plants. And repeatedly Ruehr came back to restless cello solos---a trademark---delivered by the Cypress cellist Jennifer Kloetzel. It was a thought-provoking fascination, offering far more than one could fully assimilate in a single hearing; one would hope that the Cypress reschedules it at a future date. read more » Cypress Quartet at Old First Church

October 3, 2012
by Cedric Westphal

The Cypress Quartet at Old First Church: The Cypress String Quartet has been performing together for 16 years, they are local, we featured them and one of their commissions in the past, and they have this Call-and-Response concept that we love: they ask composers to write a contemporary palimpsest for some classic quartets (often enough by Beethoven, it seems), creating new music while at the same time honoring the tradition. So how come we had never heard them live? We went to Old First Church last night to hear them in three pieces they had commissioned between 2006 and now, in a concert presented by Composers Inc. read more » Cypress String Quartet – Triumph of Beauty

October 2, 2012
by Beeri Moalem

“This piece represents music that I myself would like to listen to,” writes George Tsontakis in the program note for his String Quartet No. 5. “Strangely,” he goes on, “this is not always the overriding consideration for a composer.” Sometimes it feels like new music is written to impress or confound — written to look good on paper rather than sound good to the ear. But more and more 21st-century music is eschewing the prickly inaccessibility of the past century in favor of more readily beautiful music, without sacrificing originality or complexity. This applies to all three pieces that the Cypress String Quartet played in Tuesday’s concert presented by Composers, Inc. at Old First Church in San Francisco. read more » PREVIEW: Composers, Inc. to feature the Cypress String Quartet

September 13, 2012
by Stephen Smoliar

At the beginning of next month. Composers, Inc. will begin their 2012–13 season of recitals at Old First Church, offered in conjunction with the Old First Concerts series. On this occasion the Cypress String Quartet (violinists Cecily Ward and Tom Stone, violist Ethan Filner, and cellist Jennifer Kloetzel) will serve as guest artists, giving the world premiere of the sixth quartet by Elena Ruehr, a composer with whom they have worked extensively in the past through both recording sessions and their annual Call & Response project. They will also perform two other pieces both written for and premiered by them. read more »

Fanfare: Beethoven: The Late String Quartets

Source: Fanfare: The Magazine for Serious Record Collectors
September 4, 2012
by Jerry Dubins

First, bravo! Another modern-day ensemble acknowledges the importance of placing the B♭-Major Quartet’s Grosse Fuge ahead of the alternate finale. The resisters, like the recently reviewed Shanghai Quartet, are in an ever-growing minority, one that, in my opinion, deserves to be discredited.

Second, bravissimo! The Cypress String Quartet’s traversal of Beethoven’s late quartets is the best, bar none, I’ve yet to encounter. These are performances of a technical perfection and keenness of interpretive insight that one is apt to hear only in the mind’s inner ear. Tiny details seen in the score but almost never heard are revealed with crystalline clarity. read more » Cypress Returns to Old St. Mary’s

July 24, 2012
by Stephen Smoliar

Today’s Noontime Concerts™ (“San Francisco’s Musical Lunch Break”) recital featured the return of regular performers, the Cypress String Quartet (violinists Cecily Ward and Tom Stone, violist Ethan Filner, and cellist Jennifer Kloetzel). The program consisted entirely of music by Antonín Dvořák and provided an opportunity for the quartet to perform the music from which they took their name. That composition is the string quartet entitled Cypresses, which consists of twelve of the pieces from a cycle of the same name of eighteen songs for voice and piano based on poems by Gustav Pfleger Moravský. Each of the pieces in the quartet cycle carries the same title as the poem on which the original version was based. read more »

Gramophone: Beethoven Late String Quartets

Source: / Gramophone
July, 2012 by Laurence Vittes

(click the excerpt to read the full review on

Dallas News: Classical CD Reviews – Late Beethoven, etc.

Source: Dallas News
May 7, 2012
by Scott Cantrell

The Late String Quartets
Cypress String Quartet (Cypress, three CDs)

Founded in San Francisco in 1996, the Cypress String Quartet hasn’t yet achieved the highest profile. Judging by this self-issued set of the late Beethoven quartets, though, it’s a superb foursome. Indeed, this is as fine a survey of these brilliant but challenging works as you’ll find anywhere. read more »