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The Cypress String Quartet explores modern classical traditions

Launched two years ago, the Cypress String Quartet's "Call & Response" concert series cultivates new audiences for classical music by presenting affordable shows with an educational hook. Featuring performances of two standard repertory pieces alongside a specially commissioned contemporary work, the programs aim to highlight the relevance of tradition in the compositional process.

Recently released, the Cypress String Quartet's eponymous debut captures the group's maiden show of 2000, with stunning live recordings of Mozart's Quartet in A Major, K. 464, Beethoven's Quartet Op. 18 No. 5 in A Major, and Dan Coleman's Quartetto Ricercare. In an interview on the CD-ROM portion of the disc, 30-year-old composer Coleman explains how he tried to "amplify the subtle connections" between the earlier works -- Mozart's piece inspired Beethoven's -- which he says deal principally with harmonic relationships. Indeed, all of the pieces flow together with great elegance, as sweeping dynamics underpin gorgeous melodies, contrapuntal lines, and seamless transitions, all fed by Coleman's dramatic arrangements.


Sunday, April 21, at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for kids and seniors

(510) 845-8542

The group also performs on Sunday, April 28, at 5 p.m. at Osher Marin Jewish Community Center, 200 North San Pedro Rd., San Rafael. Tickets are $30 general and $25 for members; call 479-2000.

Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College (at Derby), Berkeley

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This year's "Call & Response" program calls for veteran composer Benjamin Lees to respond to Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 11 and Benjamin Britten's String Quartet No. 3. Though these 20th-century works explore a more modern -- and thus arguably more intense and provocative -- use of harmony and meter than the pieces from the inaugural show, both the virtuosic Cypress String Quartet and its increasingly diverse fan base will no doubt rise gracefully to the challenge.

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