SPCO's Liquid Music Series Presents ETHEL 'Documerica' Tonight
Tonight, June 3rd, at Aria in Minneapolis, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra's Liquid Music series, along with Schubert Club Mix and American Composers Forum, presents adventurous string quartet ETHEL performing Documerica, a multimedia presentation featuring new music from a wide range of composing talents.
A meditation on America's relationship to our land-and to today's environmental and social issues-the multimedia work Documerica melds multiple-screen video projections with music performed with electrifying virtuosity by alternative string quartet ETHEL. Inspired by and showcasing evocative imagery from Project Documerica, a 1970s photographic archive commissioned by the Environmental Protection Agency, the program explores this compelling snapshot of a tumultuous era that captures our respect and disregard for our surroundings. Created in collaboration with projections designer Deborah Johnson (Sufjan Stevens' BQE) and directed by Steve Cosson, Documerica features "new music bonding with old images in rich, provocative and moving ways" (The New York Times).
Since its formation in 1998, ETHEL ("vital and brilliant" - The New Yorker) has championed contemporary concert music from top composers. Comprised of violinists Kip Jones and Tema Watstein, violist Ralph Farris, and cellist Dorothy Lawson, their spirited, versatile playing bridges boundaries and allows today's freshest musical voices to soar. Documeria features music by ETHEL members Farris and Lawson, jazz drummer Ulysses Owens Jr., Chickasaw nation member Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate, and blues master James Kimo Williams. Also featured is acclaimed composer Mary Ellen Childs, a Twin Cities native whose bold instrumental works have been performed extensively across the country and internationally.
When asked about the inspiration of her piece, Ephemeral Geometry, Childs said, "Of the many wonderful photos in the EPA Documerica collection, I gravitated to those that lean to the abstract - a tall electrical tower with lines in geometric patterns, a bird silhouetted against the big red ball of the setting sun, an extreme close up of a puffy dandelion - where our sense of reality is altered just enough for us to see something unexpected. These particular photos inspired me to create music that came from the same impulse, with each of the three movements of my work capturing dramatically different energy."