A Closer Look at the Love of Music
The link between music and love can sometimes hide in plain sight, but a collaboration between a talented San Francisco chamber music group and the Fetzer Institute aims to bring a clear focus to the love and forgiveness that rises to the surface when people enjoy great music.
Cypress String Quartet is a chamber music group whose Call & Response program features active outreach to underserved audiences, especially low-income students at inner-city schools and intergenerational programs with the elderly.
For 14 years the Cypress String Quartet has presented the Call & Response program to expand chamber music repertoire and inspire all audiences’ imaginations. Each year the Cypress creates that link by commissioning a composer to ‘respond’ to the ‘call’ of chamber music repertoire or literature.
The group formed in 1996 and created a signature sound by layering sound from the lower register up after intense readings of J.S. Bach’s Chorales. The group has long taken unique and innovative approaches to its music and career, performing only as a quartet and operating its own business affairs through a non-profit organization it created.
This independent, investigative spirit is evident in their music as well. Violinist Cecily Ward explains, “We found our common ground in the music. Because we had not all gone to school together and had no common past or anyone shepherding us along, we were forced to find out who we are as an ensemble on our own – both in how we made a career and in how we create our sound.”
Their 2013 Call & Response program focuses on the poetry of W.S. Merwin and composer Jennifer Higdon, with music and interactive lectures designed to reflect on the power of music as a tool that fosters love and forgiveness.
As one Call & Response audience member put it, “Music teaches how to express your emotions and feelings. It can help you learn to love and forgive others as well as yourself. It soothes your soul.”
The Fetzer Institute is teaming with Cypress String Quartet to develop a Teachers’ Listening Guide, focusing on how love and forgiveness emerge through the performance and helping students work with the material and deepen their understanding of love, forgiveness, music and poetry; and to create an evaluation instrument to stimulate audience reflection on the themes of love and forgiveness and to collect audience feedback.
The learnings from Call & Response will be shared through work with the student groups and other audiences, a regional library tour and nationwide radio broadcasts of the program.
This is a project of the Fetzer Advisory Council on The Humanities.