Thinking Out Loud: Cypress String Quartet and Judith Zaimont

Jul 8, 2014

Composer Judith Zaimont will be in Columbia this weekend for the Missouri Symphony Orchestra's world premiere of her new work 'The River.' Listen to KBIA's Thinking Out Loud to hear Trevor Harris' recent interview with Zaimont and an interview with the Cypress String Quartet.
Composer Judith Zaimont will be in Columbia this weekend for the Missouri Symphony Orchestra's world premiere of her new work 'The River.' Listen to KBIA's Thinking Out Loud to hear Trevor Harris' recent interview with Zaimont and an interview with the Cypress String Quartet.
Credit Credit: JudithZaimont.com

A pair of members of the virtuoso ensemble the Cypress String Quartet recently talked with KBIA's Trevor Harris. That interview and a talk with contemporary American composer Judith Zaimont are the topics on this week's Thinking Out Loud on KBIA.

On their fourteenth release, the Cypress String Quartet perform a pair of quintet's by Austrian composer Franz Schubert. They are joined by cellist Gary Hoffman for Schubert's String Quintet in C and the Quartetsatz in C minor. Violinist Tom Stone responded to a question about what caused Brahms' stock to increase after he died and his music went out of fashion in the rapidly modernizing years of the mid- to late-19th century in America and Europe.

Before Schubert, music was very much of its time and people were really just paying attention to the music of their time. It was composers like Brahms and Mendelssohn who encouraged society to look back to the past. Brahms had an incredible music library was partially responsible for the quintet being published and coming back into performance. It was later composers who had great tastes - in Brahms case - who are responsible for brining Brahms back.

Stone went on to talk about the motivations behind Call and Response, a program sponsored by the Cypress String Quartet members that commissions new works.

I can't explain to you why some great artists are overlooked in their lifetime. We think of it as a tragedy and that's one of the reasons why we commission as actively as we do because we want to find, support and encourage artists to write in their time and leave a legacy for future generations. That's something that's very important to us.

The second guest on this week's Thinking Out Loud is contemporary American composer Judith Zaimont. When growing up near rivers in New York, Zaimont took inspiration from flowing water bodies. Sharing a name with a Duke Ellington composition and a Bruce Springsteen power ballad, The River is Zaimont's latest work and has its world premiere this Saturday at the Missouri Theatre.

Zaimont was raised in New York City. Growing up, Zaimont saw her father's passion for clean water for all. Seeing her father's drive inspired the young composer. Currently living in Arizona where rivers are few and often waterless beds, Zaimont is especially curious about the waters near the towns she visits.

Zaimont told me she is especially in touch with the ways Mother Nature expresses herself.

I do pay attention to evidences of Mother Nature at her raised attention level around the world... I've lived in various climates over the years and always I am paying attention to humidly, what's going on in the sky, what's outdoors. A lot of people think of themselves maybe as urban folks and then are largely indoor-orieneted. Me? I have always wanted to be outdoors.

I have a whole stream of pieces that celebrate the wonders of the natural world. I have two different sets of 12 preludes each for piano devoted to the individual months of the year... I have a chamber piece that explores the essence of the auroras in both the northern and southern hemispheres. My piano concerto is devoted to experiencing space flight... My second piano trio Zones is about climate zones: cold, warm and temperate.

I guess I am like litmus paper, atmosphere and pressure diffences, sun or no sun, they really affect me. I always think "What would Kierkegaard have been writing if he lived in Hawaii?" Its the nature of us that we respond to the environment.

KBIA's Thinking Out Loud is (generally) on hiatus for the summer. This new episode originally aired Tuesday, July 8, 2014.