Circadian String Quartet
Fanny and Felix
Monika Gruber, violin
David Ryther, violin
Omid Assadi, viola
David Wishnia, cello
Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel String Quartet in E-flat major
Felix Mendelssohn String Quartet No. 6 in F minor, Op. 80
Circadian String Quartet tells the story of older sister Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel and her younger brother Felix Mendelssohn by presenting two masterworks for string quartet-Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel’s dramatic String Quartet in E flat major and Felix Mendelssohn’s String Quartet in F minor Op. 80. Fanny and Felix were both prodigiously talented musicians but were unequally supported and encouraged in their talents due to the prevalent sexism of the time to the point that many of Fanny’s compositions were errantly attributed to Felix. That this sexist treatment did not dampen their affection and respect for one another is born out by the fact that Op. 80 was composed by Felix as a loving “requiem for Fanny.” It turned out to be Felix’s last composition. Celebrate with us the enduring musicality and strong bond of this famous sister and brother-Fanny and Felix.
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.