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String Quartet ETHEL Sets Winter/Spring 2017 Season with Stops at National Sawdust and More

ETHEL, the musically omnivorous string quartet The New York Times has described as "indefatigable and eclectic" and The Village Voice called "a genre unto itself," announces its upcoming winter/spring 2017 season, building on the group's artistry and collaborative vision.

In addition to continued touring of three of ETHEL's signature works ­- The River, ETHEL's Documerica and Blue Dress - the ensemble returns to National Sawdust with the third installment of ETHEL's HomeBaked, dedicated to premiering works by rising New York-based composers, as well as a Composers Roundtable concert at Le Poisson Rouge. The ensemble will also continue its residencies at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Denison University, culminating their three-year collaboration by receiving honorary degrees at the University's commencement ceremony in spring 2017.

Ethel Will tour its acclaimed live show The River, in support of its 2016 NAMA-nominated release of the same title (Innova Recordings). The River continues ETHEL's wildly successful nine-year collaboration with Native American musician, instrument builder and three-time GRAMMY Award-winner Robert Mirabal. The live performance immerses the audience in a flow of music, narrative and ritual, created by ETHEL and Mirabal exclusively for this program, evoking timeless Native American traditions re-imagined through the contemporary ear. After making its premiere at the University of Washington, the Seattle Times wrote that the live show, "resides somewhere beyond the intersection of ceremony and show biz, at a place where multicultural collaboration becomes sacred art." As delivered by these master performers, the effect is breathtaking, even ecstatic.

ETHEL and Mirabal will perform The River this season:

  • February 14 at the Northern Arizona University's Ashurst Hall in Flagstaff, AZ
  • February 15 at Arizona State University's Gammage Auditorium in Tempe, AZ
  • February 16 at West Social Center in Green Valley, AZ
  • February 23 at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, KS

ETHEL's Documerica (Innova Recordings) was released in November 2015. The program has been presented in live performances across every region of the U.S. Directed by OBIE Award-winner Steve Cosson, the show incorporates thousands of the NEA's Project Documerica images into a projection design by renowned artist Deborah Johnson, and features new works by ETHEL members and commissioned composers Mary Ellen Childs, Ulysses Owens Jr., Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate and James Kimo Williams. Reviewing the show's world premiere at BAM's Next Wave Festival, The New York Times described ETHEL's Documerica as "new music bonding with old images in rich, provocative and moving ways."

Upcoming performances of ETHEL's Documerica include:

  • April 20 at University of North Carolina's Kenan Auditorium in Wilmington, NC
  • April 22 at North Carolina State University's StewArt Theatre in Raleigh, NC

This season also features several performances of Blue Dress, ETHEL's newest signature evening-length program, honoring women who are making their musical mark on the 21st century. Blue Dress features music by Pulitzer Prize and MacArthur Award-winner Julia Wolfe, Missy Mazzoli, Anna Clyne and ETHEL's own Dorothy Lawson, as well as ETHEL treatments of the music of legendary artists Aretha Franklin, Stevie Nicks, Kim Gordon and Janis Joplin. The centerpiece of Blue Dress is the new work, Blue Dress for String Quartet, composed by Julia Wolfe and commissioned by ETHEL. The piece celebrates the passion and energy of bluegrass in the context of a grand soundscape of ecstatic organ-like string sonorities. Blue Dress made its world premiere at National Sawdust, where I Care If You Listen wrote of its "more relaxed and playful playing style of which ETHEL has previously established themselves as masters."

Upcoming performances of Blue Dress include:

  • February 2 at Long Island University's Tilles Center in Brookville, NY
  • March 3 at SUNY Potsdam's Hosmer Theater in Potsdam, NY
  • March 10 at the Grand Opera House in Wilmington, DE
  • March 11 at the Black Rock Center for the Arts in Germantown, MD
  • March 24 at University of Vermont's UVM Recital Hall in Burlington, VT
  • March 25 at Smith College's Sweeney Hall in Northampton, MA
  • March 31 at Carnegie Hall in Lewisburg, WV
  • May 6 at Roxbury Arts Group in Roxbury, NY
  • June 24 at Maverick Concert Hall in Woodstock, NY

On January 26, Ethel Will join percussion supergroup Talujon in a Composers Concordance Roundtable concert at (Le) Poisson Rouge. A live lab of sorts, the concert will feature the two groups performing alone, together and in small breakout configurations for a panel consisting of musicians, artists, composers, critics and actors. After each work, the panel and audience will give immediate feedback stemming from the question "What is your immediate response to a new piece of music; not what you think of it after the concert or even at intermission, but the immediate reaction after hearing a piece of music for the first time?" The audience will also be asked to participate by live tweeting their thoughts about the music as it is being played, and these tweets will be live broadcast on a big screen on stage. The composers will include Melissa Grey, Peter Jarvis, Svjetlana Bukvich, Milica Paranosic, Dan Cooper, Gene Pritsker, Randy Woolf and Robert Levin. The Roundtable panel will include Mark Stewart (Bang on a Can, Paul Simon) composer-vocalist-producer Charles Coleman and celebrated poet David Baker.

On March 5 at 3pm at the Hudson Opera House, Ethel Will present a Family Concert in partnership with Classics on Hudson, consisting of work-in-progress selections from its newest performance program, Circus: The Lives Behind the Big Top.

On March 8, ETHEL returns to National Sawdust to present the third chapter of ETHEL's HomeBaked, the quartet's celebrated commissioning series. With its focus on emerging NYC-based composers, the project, which began in 2010, has already produced twelve compositions, many of which have entered the quartet's repertoire. HomeBaked, Round III will feature the world premiere of works by composers Olga Bell, Avi Granite, Sarah Lipstate and Kyle Tieman-Strauss, as well as works by previous HomeBaked commissionees Andy Akiho and Judd Greenstein.

Ethel Will again perform new music and all-time favorites at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Great Hall Balcony Bar, where the quartet is the Resident Ensemble and programs the weekly series ETHEL and Friends. Upcoming appearances include January 20-21 & 27-28, February 3-4 & 17-18, March 17-18, April 28-29, May 19-20, June 2-3 & 9-10. For additional dates, visit the MetLiveArts page on the museum's website.

ETHEL continues as Ensemble-in-Residence at Denison University, in a collaboration between the Department of Music and the celebrated Vail Series. As Ensemble-in-Residence, ETHEL engages the entire campus and the greater Denison community in an exploration of connections between music, arts, academics, social sciences and more. Ethel Will be on campus February 7-11, as part of Denison's TUTTI Festival, and April 4-8. In addition, the university will recognize the ensemble's commitment and contributions to the Denison community by conferring honorary degrees, Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, on each member, as part of the college's Commencement services that will take place on Saturday, May 13, 2017. Ethel Will also provide the keynote at this ceremony.


Ethel Winter/Spring 2017 Season Performances at a Glance:

January 20-21
New York, NY
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Greatest Hits

January 26
New York, NY
Le Poisson Rouge
Roundtable concert

January 27-28
New York, NY
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Greatest Hits

February 1
Brookville, NY
Long Island U, Tilles Center
Outreach activities

February 2
Brookville, NY
Long Island U, Tilles Center
Outreach & Blue Dress

February 3-4
New York, NY
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Greatest Hits

February 7-11
Granville, OH
Denison University
Residency & TUTTI Festival

February 14
Flagstaff, AZ
Northern Arizona U, Ashurst Hall
The River

February 15
Tempe, AZ
Arizona State U, Gammage Auditorium
The River

February 16
Green Valley, AZ
West Social Center
The River

February 17-18
New York, NY
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Greatest Hits

February 23
Overland Park, KS
Johnson County Community College
Outreach activities

February 24
Overland Park, KS
Johnson County Community College
Outreach & The River

March 2
Potsdam, NY
SUNY Purchase, Hosmer Theater
Outreach activities

March 3
Potsdam, NY
SUNY Purchase, Hosmer Theater
Blue Dress

March 5
Hudson, NY
Hudson Opera House
Family Concert

March 8
Brooklyn, NY
National Sawdust
ETHEL's HomeBaked

March 10
Wilmington, DE
Grand Opera House
Outreach & Blue Dress

March 11
Germantown, MD
Black Rock Center for the Arts
Outreach & Blue Dress

March 17-18
New York, NY
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Greatest Hits

March 24
Burlington, VT
University of Vermont, UVM Recital Hall
Outreach & Blue Dress

March 26
Northampton, MA
Smith College, Sweeney Hall
Outreach & Blue Dress

March 31
Lewisburg, WV
Carnegie Hall
Outreach & Blue Dress

April 4-8
Granville, OH
Denison University
Residency

April 20
Wilmington, NC
UNC Wilmington, Kenan Auditorium
Outreach & Documerica

April 21
Raleigh, NC
North Carolina State U, StewArt Theatre
Outreach activities

April 22
Raleigh, NC
North Carolina State U, StewArt Theatre
Outreach & Documerica

April 28-29
New York, NY
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Greatest Hits

May 6
Roxbury, NY
Roxbury Arts Group
Outreach & Blue Dress

May 13
Granville, OH
Denison University
Commencement

May 19-20
New York, NY
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Greatest Hits

June 2-3
New York, NY
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Greatest Hits

June 9-10
New York, NY
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Greatest Hits

June 24
Woodstock, NY
Maverick Concert Hall
Outreach & Blue Dress

About ETHEL

Established in New York City in 1998, 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. The New York Times has described ETHEL as "indefatigable and eclectic," and The New Yorker has deemed the group"vital and brilliant." Nearly two decades into its singular career, ETHEL has in turn become seminal in its own right, a path-breaker for countless younger genre-spanning ensembles, and a prolific commissioner of new music.

At the heart of ETHEL is a collaborative ethos-a quest for a common creative expression that is forged in the celebration of community. In addition to premiering 21st century works by a broad range of groundbreaking composers, the quartet creates and tours rich, often multimedia, productions in which community engagement is a key element.

ETHEL is currently touring the evening-length ETHEL's Documerica, inspired by the tens of thousands of images shot as part of the Environmental Protection Agency's 1971 Documerica Project, a decade-long initiative that commissioned photographers across the land to document the state of the environment and its impact on society. Directed by OBIE Award-winner Steve Cosson, with projection design by Deborah Johnson, ETHEL's Documerica features new work by ETHEL members and music the quartet commissioned from other uniquely American artists. The quartet released a Documerica album in 2015. Other current evening-length programs include The River, a collaboration with Taos Pueblo flutist Robert Mirabal (album released June 2016), and Blue Dress, which pays special homage to women making their musical mark on the 21st century.

ETHEL has collaborated with artists including David Byrne, Bang on a Can All Stars, Kaki King, Todd Rundgren, Carlo Mombelli, Ursula Oppens, Juana Molina, Tom Verlaine, STEW and Heidi Rodewald, Ensemble Modern, Jill Sobule, Dean Osborne, Robert Mirabal, 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.

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, Mary Ellen Childs, John King, Raz Mesinai, John Zorn, Missy Mazzoli, Anna Clyne, Steve Reich, Kenji Bunch, Don Byron, Aleksandra Vrebalov, Marcelo Zarvos, Pamela Z, Evan Ziporyn and Terry Riley. Over the past five years, ETHEL has premiered 150+ new works, many of them commissioned by the quartet.

ETHEL is the Resident Ensemble at The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Balcony Bar and Ensemble-in-Residence at Denison University.

ETHEL is Ralph Farris (viola), Kip Jones (violin), Dorothy Lawson (cello) and Corin Lee (violin).

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