The Jewish Museum And Bang On A Can Present Julia Wolfe's String Quartets Performed By ETHEL
Bang on a Can and the Jewish Museum's 2018-2019 concert season, pairing innovative music with the Museum's exhibitions and showcasing leading female performers and composers, continues on Thursday, February 28, 2019 at 7:30pm. The acclaimed string quartet ETHEL performs the complete string quartets of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Julia Wolfe: Dig Deep, Early that Summer, Four Marys, and Blue Dress. This is the first performance of all of Wolfe's string quartets at one time, on one stage.
Julia Wolfe's string quartets, as described by The New Yorker, "combine the violent forward drive of rock music with an aura of minimalist serenity [using] the four instruments as a big guitar, whipping psychedelic states of mind into frenzied and ecstatic climaxes." This performance is presented in conjunction with the exhibition of fellow New York City cultural icon Martha Rosler: Irrespective.
Established in New York City in 1998, ETHEL quickly earned a reputation as one of America's most adventurous string quartets. Twenty years later, the band continues to set the standard for contemporary concert music. ETHEL is Ralph Farris (viola), Kip Jones (violin), Dorothy Lawson (cello), and Corin Lee (violin).
Martha Rosler is considered one of the strongest and most resolute artistic voices of her generation. She skillfully employs diverse materials to address pressing matters of her time, including war, gender roles, gentrification, inequality, and labor. From her feminist photomontages of the 1960s and 1970s to her large-scale installations, Rosler's vital work reflects an enduring and passionate vision. This survey exhibition showcases her five decades-long practice that continues to evolve and respond to the shifting contours of political life.
The 2018-2019 season marks the fifth year of the Jewish Museum and Bang on a Can's partnership, producing dynamic musical performances inspired by the Museum's diverse slate of exhibitions. The final performance this season on Thursday, May 23, 2019 at 8pm will feature composer/performer Meredith Monk in a rare, intimate concert - her premiere at the Jewish Museum - with renowned members of her Vocal Ensemble, Katie Geissinger and Allison Sniffin. This performance parallels Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything, a contemporary art exhibition inspired by the life and work of the world-renowned novelist, poet, and singer/songwriter.
About Julia Wolfe: Julia Wolfe's music is distinguished by an intense physicality and a relentless power that pushes performers to extremes and demands attention from the audience. She draws inspiration from folk, classical, and rock genres, bringing a modern sensibility to each while simultaneously tearing down the walls between them.
Her Pulitzer prize-winning work, Anthracite Fields, a concert-length oratorio for chorus and instruments, draws on oral histories, interviews, speeches, and more to honor the people who persevered and endured in the Pennsylvania Anthracite coal region. Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times wrote Anthracite Fields "captures not only the sadness of hard lives lost...but also of the sweetness and passion of a way of daily life now also lost. The music compels without overstatement. This is a major, profound work."
Recent projects include her evening-length Steel Hammer for the Bang on a Can All-Stars and singers which toured in an expanded theatrical form with director Anne Bogart and her Siti Company. In January 2019, the New York Philharmonic premieres Fire in my mouth, Wolfe's large-scale work for orchestra and women's chorus, continuing her interest in American labor history with the subject of women in New York's garment industry at the turn of the century. Upcoming projects include new works for SO Percussion, and the New World Symphony.
She has written a major body of work for strings, from quartets to full orchestra. Her quartets, as described by The New Yorker, "combine the violent forward drive of rock music with an aura of minimalist serenity [using] the four instruments as a big guitar, whipping psychedelic states of mind into frenzied and ecstatic climaxes." Wolfe's Cruel Sister for string orchestra, inspired by a traditional English ballad, was commissioned by the Munich Chamber Orchestra and received its U.S. premiere at the Spoleto Festival. Fuel for string orchestra is a collaboration with filmmaker Bill Morrison, and Spinning is a multi-media work written for cellist Maya Beiser with visuals by Laurie Olinder. She has collaborated with theater artist Anna Deveare Smith, choreographer Susan Marshall, visual designer Jeff Sugg, and director François Girard, among others. Her music has been heard at venues throughout the world, including the Brooklyn Academy Of Music, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Sydney Olympic Arts Festival, Muziekgebouw (Netherlands), Barbican Centre (UK), Settembre Musica (Italy), Theatre de la Ville (France),among others. Her music has been recorded on Cantaloupe Music, Teldec, Universal, Sony Classical, and Argo/Decca.
Wolfe was a 2016 MacArthur Fellow and was a recipient of the 2015 Herb Alpert Award in Music. She is co-founder/co-artistic director of New York's legendary music collective Bang on a Can, and she is Artistic Director of NYU Steinhardt Music Composition. Her music is published by Red Poppy, Ltd. (ASCAP) and is distributed worldwide by G. Schirmer, Inc.
About ETHEL: Established in New York City in 1998, ETHEL quickly earned a reputation as one of America's most adventurous string quartets. Twenty years later, the band continues to set the standard for contemporary concert music. Known for its enlivened playing, blending uptown, conservatory musicianship with downtown genre-crossing, ETHEL has been described as "indefatigable and eclectic" (The New York Times), "vital and brilliant" (The New Yorker), and "infectiously visceral" (Pitchfork). Since its inception, ETHEL has released six feature recordings (one of them nominated for a Native American Music Award), performed as guests on 35+ albums, won a GRAMMY with jazz legend Kurt Elling, and performed in 14 countries, 45 states, and 250 cities.
At the heart of ETHEL is a collaborative ethos-a quest for a common creative expression that is forged in the celebration of community. 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 in the 1970's as part of the Environmental Protection Agency's decade-long Project Documerica; The River, a collaboration with Taos Pueblo flutist Robert Mirabal; Grace, a journey of redemption through music featuring works from Ennio Morricone, to Hildegard von Bingen and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan; 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. Commissioned by The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Academy Of Music, Circus - Wandering City is an immersive work combining projections of stunning images, films 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, and its New York premiere at the BAM Next Wave Festival in November 2018.
ETHEL is the Resident Ensemble at The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Balcony Bar and Ensemble-in-Residence at Denison University and 2018/19 Quartet-in-Residence at Kaufman Music Center's Face the Music.
Tickets for the February 28, 2019 program are $20 general public; $16 students and seniors; and $12 for Jewish Museum members and Bang on a Can list members, and include exhibition admission prior to the performance. Further program and ticket information is available by calling 212.423.3337 or at TheJewishMuseum.org/calendar. The Jewish Museum is located at Fifth Avenue and 92nd Street, NYC.