The Cypress String Quartet is a San Francisco based ensemble which has a history of commissioning new works from composers. They established the Call & Response project eleven years ago, in which they ask a living composer to write a response to two works by the great masters of the genre. This year, it's Mozart's Quartet in D Major, K.575 (The Violet) and Schubert’s Quartet in D Minor, D.810 (Death and the Maiden) which await their modern counterpart, written by Elena Ruehr (pronounced uh-LAY-nuh ROO-er). The concert takes place on Friday 2/26 at 8pm at Herbst Theater.

Elena Ruehr is a composer who teaches at the MIT music department, and she was inspired to write a string quartet after Ann Patchett's novel Bel Canto. The plot summary seems quite, ahem, dramatic to be the program for a string quartet, so we got on the phone to ask Elena how she pulled it off.