Circadian String Quartet
Monika Gruber & David Ryther, violin
Omid Assadi, viola
David Wishnia, cello
with special guest Amy Zanrosso, piano
Piano Quintets by Dvořák, Stravinsky/Ryther, Schumann and Shostakovich.
The piano quintet came into its own during the romantic era when composers, such as Schumann and Brahms, added virtuosic piano parts to the dominant chamber configuration of the time, the string quartet. The resulting ensemble was capable of roars, whispers and everything in between. Robert Schumann was searching for a sound that could be considered both public and private in his exuberant piano quintet dedicated to his wife, Clara. Come experience the rich possibilities of this chamber ensemble by attending one or both concerts of our mini–festival dedicated to exploring the piano quintet’s breathtaking sonic and expressive range.
Program 1 Motherland: Dvořák and Stravinsky
Dvořák’s beloved Piano Quintet in A major, Op. 81, followed by Circadian violinist David Ryther’s original transcription of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, scored for piano, strings and percussion. This pairing highlights both composer’s love and mastery of folk music and the folklore of their respective homelands.
Program 2 The Personal and the Political: Schumann and Shostakovich
Two masterworks of the piano quintet genre: the exuberant Piano Quintet in E flat major, Op. 44 by Robert Schumann, and the dark and multi–layered Piano Quintet, Op. 57 by Dimitri Shostakovich. This concert tells the story of two composers whose political and personal struggles infused their work.
Bay Area based Circadian String Quartet was founded in 2013 to perform classical and contemporary repertoire of folkloric or cultural significance. Since then CSQ has become known for bold original programming ideas that break boundaries or reach across cultures, that is why CSQ loves working with composers. CSQ is proud to have given world and U.S. premieres of exciting new pieces of chamber music written by Sahba Aminikia, Ben Carson, Toronto-based Noam Lemish, and British composer Ian Venables. They first performed Sahba Aminikia’s One Day Tehran live on air on KPFA’s radio show Music of the World with Joanna Manqueros in 2015. Then in 2016 they commissioned Aminikia to write a new piece for string quartet and Narrator. The result, a glowing kaleidoscopic mixture of text by Allen Ginsburg and Hafez called The Weight of the World was premiered in 2017 at the Piedmont Arts center.
CSQ has also become known for its original transcriptions and compositions. In 2017 and 2019 their original transcriptions of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and The Firebird premiered to enthusiastic crowds and critical acclaim. In 2016 CSQ collaborated with narrator and historian Nikolaus Hohmann to tell stories from World War Two. For this project CSQ created short original pieces of music and text called Chiaroscuros which helped give their programs a narrative arc. Now there is a growing body of these short works which are now a regular part of all CSQ concerts.
CSQ has been quartet in residence at the Music by the Mountain Festival in Mt. Shasta, featured in the April in Santa Cruz new music festival, and the members also serve as resident teaching artists for the Villa Sinfonia’s Zephyr Point Chamber music workshop in South Lake Tahoe.
Some of CSQ’s recent projects include their collaboration with world class santour player Hamid Taghavi, and the upcoming premiere of Eurydice’s Defiance David Ryther’s new opera written especially for Kitka soprano Lily Storm and CSQ. These projects highlight the breadth of CSQ’s repertoire as they continue to expand the string quartet’s possibilities.
Amy Zanrosso’s playing has been hailed as expressive, magnetic and masterful but since no one at The New York Times has said this, she’s not allowed to put it in quotes. Her first touch of a keyboard was a two-octave electric organ that her parents had found who knows where. She enjoyed picking out tunes like O Sole Mio and Ode to Joy until her cousin decided to show her Heart and Soul on an acoustic piano. That’s the moment Amy fell in love. Thanks to her attentive and industrious Italian immigrant mom, piano lessons started at the age of 6 and by the age of 15, Amy had made the decision to make music her life. A few years later she was accepted into the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada where, in Bruce Vogt’s studio, she realized that she had way too much to learn and would always be in awe of the absolute force that is music. Bruce’s wisdom and humor still influences her life today and she will always be thankful for his guidance in those early years of learning what playing the piano really meant.
As a soloist, Amy is addicted to the thrill of performing with orchestra. Since 2016, concerto repertoire, similar to chamber music but on steroids, has forced her to push her limits, helping make her into the confident and electrifying player she always hoped to be. She has appeared as a soloist with the Symphony of the Kootenays, the Russian Chamber Orchestra and the Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra. Her intense love of chamber music has led her to more fully admire and explore her favorite composers while sharing the experience with countless inspiring, dedicated players and appreciative audiences. In addition to freelancing in the Bay Area with various musicians and ensembles, the RossoRose Duo, founded in 2015, keeps Amy and violinist Alisa Rose occupied learning and performing repertoire from Beethoven to Auerbach.