Many choose to study or read at a library because it’s a quiet place with many resources—until a string quartet shows up and launches into Beethoven in the stacks.

Symphony Silicon Valley has been producing a series of “Library Acts of Culture” funded by the nonprofit Knight Foundation.

The acts of culture included classical and musical theater performances and live oil painting at San Jose libraries.

Last Friday, the Pearl Avenue branch of the San Jose Public Library was the eighth and final location in which Victoria Morton and her string quartet performed as part of the program.

As the quartet entered the library with their instruments strapped to their backs, many of the library’s patrons continued going about their business.

Morton began tuning her viola in the back of the library, which started to attract attention.

When the four musicians lined up in the center of the library and began bowing their instruments, it was loud enough for the entire library to hear, but only a handful of people came over to watch the act.

However, when the performance was over, applause could be heard from all corners of the library as people went back to their work.

In the style of a flash mob, the quartet packed up their things and were out the door as soon as they were finished.

The entire event took the musicians about 15 minutes from parking their cars to driving away.

Morton said these flash mob performances are a great way to showcase a type of music the audience may have never heard live.

“I’m hoping that we can touch people enough that they would seek out more live performances of musicians,” Morton says, “and hopefully want to learn more about classical music.”

San Jose native Christina Cortez says she was overwhelmed with the performance at the Pearl Avenue branch.

“I came to do such boring work and then I heard this beautiful music coming from the middle of the library,” Cortez said. “I was hoping they would play more songs, but I think they accomplished their goal because it left me wanting more.”

Lee Kopp, director of the ArtSPARK outreach program at Symphony Silicon Valley and organizer of Library Acts of Culture, says he tries to keep these events a secret.

“We only told the head librarian at each branch, so even some of the staff are surprised when the random acts occur,” Kopp says.

“Performing in a library seems like a bad idea because people go there to enjoy the silence, but there have been virtually no complaints.”

Pictured above: Allison Rich playing the role of Lucy in San Jose Stage Company’s production of ‘The Threepenny Opera.’ Cast members from the production were among the artists who surprised patrons at San Jose libraries with random acts of culture.