Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

String Quartet ETHEL Celebrates 20th Anniversary Season

String Quartet ETHEL Celebrates 20th Anniversary Season String quartet ETHEL, known for its enlivened playing and consistently groundbreaking redefinition of concert music, announces their landmark 20th anniversary season. Described as "an adventurous quartet with a rock band's zest" by The New York Times and deemed "a genre unto itself" by the Village Voice, ETHEL continues to set the standard for contemporary concert music. Celebrations begin with a June 20th benefit gala hosted by New Sound's John Schaefer, honoring ETHEL as well as fellow new music champions: Bang on a Can founders Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe. ETHEL's 2018-19 season offers the New York premiere of Circus: Wandering City at the 2018 BAM Next Wave Festival, along with continued touring of the group's signature works: The River and Documerica. (Please scroll below for more details and complete 2018-19 schedule of events.)

The quartet creates and tours rich, often multimedia, productions including the evening-length ETHEL's Documerica, inspired by the tens of thousands of images shot as part of the Environmental Protection Agency's decade-long Project Documerica, launched in 1971; The River, a collaboration with Taos Pueblo flutist Robert Mirabal; and Circus: Wandering City, which explores the phenomenon of circus through the eyes and insights of people who have created its special thrills and illusions. Directed by Grant McDonald, and co-commissioned by BAM and The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art (The Ringling) in Sarasota, Florida, Circus: Wandering City is an immersive work, combining projections of stunning images, film, and interviews from the Museum's archives, the words of circus performers past and present, and original music composed and performed live by ETHEL. Circus: Wandering City made its world premiere in January 2018-the 250th anniversary of the modern circus-at The Ringling. The work makes its New York premiere in November 2018 at the BAM Next Wave Festival in Brooklyn, NY.

In 1998, violinists Mary Rowell and Todd Reynolds, violist Ralph Farris and cellist Dorothy Lawson came together for a recording session. The collaboration of these extraordinarily skilled, passionate musicians sparked a surge of creative energy and potential, at a time when the classical music field was conservative and the economic climate was difficult. "When we formed ETHEL 20 years ago, our renegade style of music was the first of its kind. We were anomalies," explains Dorothy Lawson, ETHEL's co-artistic director and cellist.

ETHEL quickly earned a reputation as one of America's most adventurous string quartets - heirs to the likes of the Kronos Quartet and Soldier String Quartet, and part of a generation of young artists blending uptown, conservatory musicianship with downtown genre-crossing - by playing with the intensity and accoutrements of a rock band. Two decades into a singular career, ETHEL has in turn become seminal, a path-breaker for countless new genre-spanning ensembles and a prolific commissioner of new music. "We witnessed first-hand the growth of the new music scene. We could not be happier to have played a role in the development and sustainability of this music, and will continue to forge new approaches and practices that make meaningful contributions to the field," states Lawson.

Since its inception, ETHEL has released six feature recordings (one of them nominated for a Native American Music Award), guested on 35+ albums, won a GRAMMY with jazz legend Kurt Elling, performed in 14 countries, 45 states, and 250 cities, served as artists in residence with four revered institutions (Grand Canyon Music Festival/Native American Composers Apprenticeship Program, Park Avenue Armory, Denison University, and the Balcony Bar of The Metropolitan Museum of Art ), appeared twice as TED speakers, and premiered over 190 works (>77% commissioned) by 100+ different ground-breaking 21st Century composers (>25% female).

The quartet regularly performs works by all of the members of the ensemble, alongside music by Philip Glass, Julia Wolfe, Phil Kline, David Lang, Dan Friel, John Zorn, Missy Mazzoli, Anna Clyne, Steve Reich, Don Byron, Aleksandra Vrebalov, Marcelo Zarvos, Pamela Z, Evan Ziporyn and Terry Riley. The New York Times has described the group as "indefatigable and eclectic," and Pitchfork has called them "infectiously visceral." According to the New Orleans Advocate, "ETHEL has been exploding the boundaries of conventional quartet music by combining its classical training with rock 'n' roll enthusiasm and musical traditions from around the world." Named the "avatar of 'post-classical' music (The New Yorker)," ETHEL has earned its place as a lead voice in the pantheon of the concert music world.


BroadwayWorld Shop
Shop BroadwayWorld

Shop this season's new musicals! Get dressed up for a night at the theatre, or just a night at home, with merch from some of Broadway's biggest hits including SOME LIKE IT HOT, KIMBERLY AKIMBO, and more!

Start Shopping



Related Stories
Listen: THE BIG ONE-OH! Cast Recording Now Available Digitally Photo
Listen to the Ultimate Cast Recording of The Big One-Oh featuring Christian Borle, Derek Klena and more!

MEAN GIRLS Songs Have Been Reinvented For Movie Musical Photo
Jeff Richmond has given an update on the upcoming film adaption of Mean Girls the musical. Richmond stated that he and his wife, Tina Fey, are working 'day-to-day' on the new movie musical, revealing that the music has been 'reinvented' for the big screen. The film stars Angourie Rice, Auli'i Cravalho, Jaquel Spivey and Reneé Rapp.

Check Out This Weeks Top Stage Mags Photo
Take a look at this week's top Stage Mags including productions from Capital Stage, Gaslight Theatre, and more.

DEAR EVAN HANSEN National Tour to End its Run This Summer Photo
The North American Tour of Dear Evan Hansen, which first launched at the Buell Theatre in Denver, Colorado in October 2018, will end its run on July 2nd, 2023 at the Koger Center in Columbia, South Carolina. See how to purchase tickes!


More Hot Stories For You


THE PIANO LESSON Plays Final Broadway PerformanceTHE PIANO LESSON Plays Final Broadway Performance
January 29, 2023

On January 29, the Broadway revival of August Wilson's The Piano Lesson concludes its run at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, having played 27 previews and 124 regular performances. The production is the highest grossing revival of a play on Broadway and the highest grossing Wilson production on Broadway ever.

Listen: THE BIG ONE-OH! Cast Recording Featuring Christian Borle, Derek Klena & More Now Available DigitallyListen: THE BIG ONE-OH! Cast Recording Featuring Christian Borle, Derek Klena & More Now Available Digitally
January 27, 2023

Listen to the Ultimate Cast Recording of The Big One-Oh featuring Christian Borle, Derek Klena and more!

DEAR EVAN HANSEN National Tour to End its Run This SummerDEAR EVAN HANSEN National Tour to End its Run This Summer
January 27, 2023

The North American Tour of Dear Evan Hansen, which first launched at the Buell Theatre in Denver, Colorado in October 2018, will end its run on July 2nd, 2023 at the Koger Center in Columbia, South Carolina. See how to purchase tickes!

66th Annual Obie Awards to Return Live and in Person in February66th Annual Obie Awards to Return Live and in Person in February
January 27, 2023

The 66th Annual Obie Awards, celebrating and honoring Off- and Off-Off-Broadway will take place on Monday, February 27, 2023 at Terminal 5.

Alyssa Fox to Take Over as Elphaba in WICKED Beginning in MarchAlyssa Fox to Take Over as Elphaba in WICKED Beginning in March
January 27, 2023

Alyssa Fox will take over the role of Elphaba in WICKED at Broadway’s Gershwin Theatre beginning Tuesday, March 7th. See how to purchase tickets!