San Francisco-based Cypress String Quartet is offering a rare treat this month, performing all 16 of Beethoven’s monumental string quartets at free public concerts as it bids a grateful adieu to its hometown in its 20th and final season.
The “Beethoven in the City” pop-up concerts run Wednesday through May 19 at varied locations, including one in each San Francisco supervisorial district, with spots such as St. Anthony’s Dining Room, Mission Dolores Park, Crissy Field, Castro Plaza, Bernal Heights Library, City Hall, Sutro Baths and Yerba Buena Gardens in the lineup.
“I feel that sometimes putting great works of art in unexpected places yields amazing results,” says Jennifer Kloetzel, the cellist for CSO, which also features violist Ethan Filner and violinists Tom Stone and Cecily Ward. “People who wouldn’t necessarily come into a concert hall, if they walk by Crissy Field and they stop and say, ‘What was that piece of music? I want to know more.’ I think it opens up this type of music to new audiences.”
The ensemble has scheduled the quartets in a site-specific, thematic way, rather than the order in which Beethoven composed them.
For example, his String Quartet No. 7 in F major, Opus 59 No. 1, a melodic, upbeat and sunny composition, will be presented in a Mother’s Day afternoon concert at Castro Plaza. The String Quartet No. 15 in A minor, Opus 132, which Beethoven composed in the thankful context of recovering from a serious illness, will be performed May 11 at San Francisco General Hospital.
But the opportunity to hear the CSQ play Beethoven’s string quartets in such a thoughtful way comes with a bittersweet note, as the group is disbanding at the conclusion of its 2015-16 season. Ending a long run of recording, performing at local halls and for children at schools, and touring across the country and abroad, the ensemble members are ready to pursue individual career paths.
“I think that this was a resting point, sort of a touchdown point so we could regroup and figure out what was next,” Kloetzel says. “And I love Beethoven’s terms of an ending. Beethoven has this great quote that I love, that pretty much translates as ‘art commands of us that we don’t stand still.’ Each of us had something we want to focus on or try. We could continue on, but there was a greater pull in a different direction. Twenty years is a long time to do something.”
Beethoven in The City schedule
11:30 a.m. May 4 — OPUS 18, No. 1, St. Anthony’s Dining Room, 150 Golden Gate Ave.
3:45 p.m. May 5 — OPUS 18 No. 6, West Sunset Playground, 3223 Ortega St.
Noon May 6 — OPUS 18 No. 5, Justin Herman Plaza
3 p.m. May 6 — OPUS 135, Japantown Peace Plaza
11:30 a.m. May 7 — OPUS 74, Mission Dolores Park
3 p.m. May 7 — OPUS 95, Crissy Field
1 p.m. May 8 — OPUS 59 No. 1, Jane Warner Plaza, Castro and Market streets
4 p.m. May 8 — OPUS 18 No. 3, 4 p.m., Persia and Ocean avenues
10:30 a.m. May 9 — OPUS 18 No. 4, Fort Funston
4 p.m. May 10 — OPUS 127, Bernal Heights Library, 500 Cortland Ave.
11:30 a.m. May 11 — OPUS 132, SF General Hospital, 1001 Potrero Ave.
3 p.m. May 11 — OPUS 59 No. 2, PROXY Outdoor Theatre, Hayes and Octavia streets
Noon May 13 – OPUS 18 No. 2, City Hall Rotunda
11 a.m. May 16 — OPUS 131, Sutro Baths, Point Lobos Avenue
1 p.m. May 17 — OPUS 59 No. 3, 1 p.m., SF Botanical Gardens, Zellerbach Garden off Ninth Avenue, Golden Gate Park
12:30 p.m. May 19 — OPUS 130 with the Grosse Fuge, Yerba Buena Gardens