Photo Flash: First Look at String Quartet ETHEL at Denison University
Denison University announces the launch of its first Ensemble-in-Residence program, a collaboration between the Department of Music and the Vail Series. The Ensemble-in-Residence program will engage the entire campus and the greater community in an exploration of music and other academic disciplines. The program will host the renowned string quartet ETHEL for the 2014-2015 academic year.
Founded in 1998 and based in New York, ETHEL is comprised of Ralph Farris (viola), Kip Jones (violin), Dorothy Lawson (cello) and Tema Watstein (violin). ETHEL experienced its first Denison welcome at the opening of last year's Vail Series. "Those who attended that concert, as well as their bonus performance in front of Doane Library, can attest to their virtuosity as well as the connection they made with the Denison community," says Mike Morris, interim director of the Vail Series. "In turn, ETHEL's musicians were taken by our students' level of engagement and the warm reception they received at Denison."
As the Denison University Ensemble-in-Residence, ETHEL will be on campus for three weeks in 2014/15;Tuesday, Oct. 21 to Saturday, Oct. 25; Monday, March 2 to Saturday, March 7, during which they will be the featured performers for the Tutti New Music Festival; and finally from Wednesday, April 22 to Saturday, April 25. The quartet will coach and mentor students in the music department. In addition, they will engage their talents in a series of interdisciplinary activities, including:
As part of their residency, ETHEL will carry the Denison banner with them as they perform and conduct master classes across the country and internationally. "We are excited to have ETHEL help tell the Denison story of students from around the world who come together to pursue academic inquiry and research, to analyze and solve problems, and to forge the skills needed to succeed," says Ching-chu Hu, associate professor of music.
Throughout the season ETHEL tours several critically-acclaimed signature programs, ranging from a collaboration with guitar virtuoso Kaki King, to the "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 "Composer Portrait" of Missy Mazzoli featuring a premiere of her new quartet commissioned by ETHEL at Miller Theater; performances as the Resident Ensemble at The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Balcony Bar; and a new residency at Denison University culminating in a performance at the Tutti Contemporary Music Festival.
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, Loudon Wainwright III, 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 ten 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 is also the 2014-15 Ensemble-in-Residence at Denison University.
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 many albums, including The Paha Sapa Give-Back by Jerome Kitzke, (Innova, 2014), 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 five years, ETHEL has premiered 100+ 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 and ETHEL's Documerica 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; and "HonBiBaekSan" by Dohee Lee at Meet the Composer's 3-City Dash Festival. ETHEL's HomeBaked series has to date commissioned and premiered works by emerging NYC composers Andy Akiho, Hannis Brown, Anna Clyne, Lainie Fefferman, Dan Friel, Judd Greenstein, Matt Marks, and Ulysses Owens Jr. ETHEL has debuted 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. For more information, visit www.ethelcentral.org.
Photo Credit: James Ewing, Stephanie Berger, Moraima Capellan Pichardo & Jennifer Killion