Acclaimed as “indefatigable and eclectic” (The New York Times), “vital and brilliant” (The New Yorker), and “one of the most exciting quartets around” (Strad Magazine), ETHEL invigorates the contemporary music scene with exuberance, intensity, imaginative programming, and exceptional artistry.
At the heart of ETHEL is a collaborative ethos – a quest for a common creative expression that is forged in the celebration of community. As cultural and musical “pollinators,” the quartet brings its collaborative discoveries to audiences through multi-dimensional musical repertoire and community engagement.
ETHEL’s 2013-’14 season celebrates the diversity of regional American music. It commences with a performance featuring Native American flutist Robert Mirabal at the Santa Fe Opera filmed for the PBS special Music and Myth, followed by the world premiere of the quartet’s latest multi-media production Documerica, a landmark visual and musical snapshot of America during the tumultuous 1970s, as part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival. This evening-length performance directed by Steve Cosson features montages by acclaimed projection artist Deborah Johnson in concert with commissioned work by Mary Ellen Childs, Ulysses Owens Jr., Jared Impichchaachaaha’ Tate and James “Kimo” Williams and new music by the members of ETHEL.
Throughout the season ETHEL tours several signature programs ranging from a collaboration with guitar virtuoso Kaki King, to the critically-acclaimed “Music of the Sun” concerts with Robert Mirabal to an introspective program “Grace,” featuring ETHEL’s arrangements of music by Ennio Morricone and Jeff Buckley. Other highlights include: a return appearance as the House Band of TEDxManhattan; performances as the Resident Ensemble at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Balcony Bar; and premieres of newly commissioned works by Hannis Brown, Lainie Fefferman, Ulysses Owens Jr., Dan Friel and Julia Wolfe.
Always striving to demonstrate the unifying power of music, ETHEL has initiated innovative collaborations with an extraordinary community of international artists including David Byrne, Bang on a Can, Todd Rundgren, Carlo Mombelli, Ursula Oppens, Juana Molina, Tom Verlaine, STEW, Ensemble Modern, Jill Sobule, Dean Osborne, Howard Levy, Simone Sou, Andrew Bird, Iva Bittová, Colin Currie, Thomas Dolby, Jeff Peterson, Oleg Fateev, Stephen Gosling, Jake Shimabukuro, Polygraph Lounge and Vijay Iyer.
For nine consecutive years, ETHEL has served as the Ensemble-in-Residence at the Grand Canyon Music Festival’s Native American Composers Apprenticeship Project. The group’s ongoing dedication to working with indigenous people and music culminated in the 2010 release of Oshtali: Music for String Quartet (Thunderbird Records), the first commercial recording of American Indian student works.
ETHEL’s debut eponymous CD was a Billboard Magazine “Best Recording of 2003.” Its second CD, Light, ranked #3 on Amazon.com’s “Best of 2006” and #5 on WYNC’s “Best of 2006 Listener Poll.” The group’s most recent CD, Heavy, was released in 2012 to great critical acclaim. ETHEL has appeared as a guest artist on a plethora of albums: Cold Blue Two (Cold Blue Music, 2012), Glow by Kaki King (Velour Recordings, 2012); Blue Moth by Anna Clyne (Tzadik, 2012); A Map of the Floating City by Thomas Dolby (Redeye Label, 2012); The Duke by Joe Jackson (Razor & Tie, 2012); John the Revelator: A Mass for Six Voices by Phil Kline (Cantaloupe Music, 2008) with vocal group Lionheart; and the Grammy Award-winning Dedicated to You: Kurt Elling Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman (Concord Records, 2009).
Over the past four years, ETHEL has premiered 55+ new works by 20th- and 21st-century composers including: Phil Kline’s “SPACE” at the gala reopening of Alice Tully Hall; “RADIO” by Osvaldo Golijov at the debut of WNYC Radio’s Jerome L. Greene Space; ETHEL’s TruckStop®: The Beginning at BAM’s Next Wave Festival; ETHEL Fair: The Songwriters at opening night of Lincoln Center’s Out of Doors; “WAIT FOR GREEN” with choreographer Annie-B Parson commissioned by arts>World Financial Center; “HonBiBaekSan” by Dohee Lee at Meet the Composer’s 3-City Dash Festival; ETHEL’s HomeBaked series featuring commissioned works by emerging NYC composers Andy Akiho, Anna Clyne, Judd Greenstein and Matt Marks, as well as premieres by Rick Baitz and Randall Woolf at the Tribeca New Music Festival; performances of original scores in combination with new choreography by Aleksandra Vrebalov/Dusan Tynek Dance Company and Son Lux/Gina Gibney Dance; and works by contemporary music luminaries such as Philip Glass, Julia Wolfe, John Zorn, Evan Ziporyn, Steve Reich, John King, Raz Mesinai, John Luther Adams, JacobTV, Hafez Modirzadeh, David Lang, Kenji Bunch, Don Byron and Marcelo Zarvos.
Founded in 1998 and based in New York City, ETHEL is comprised of Ralph Farris (viola), Dorothy Lawson (cello), Kip Jones (violin) and Tema Watstein (violin). - ethelcentral.org