ETHEL String Quartet Announces Winter/Spring Season
String Quartet ETHEL, known for their enlivened playing and consistently groundbreaking redefinition of concert music, announces their upcoming Winter/Spring 2018 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's new season offers the world premiere of Circus: Wandering Cityin Sarasota, Florida. (January 26-27 at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art's Historic Asolo Theater) This multimedia experience, conjuring the singular thrill and vast American cultural significance of the circus through the centuries, embodies ETHEL's keen ability to cohere many parts into an immersive and emotive whole. ETHEL's Winter/Spring 2018 season also features touring of two of their signature works, The River and Blue Dress. 2018 will see ETHEL educating and enlivening campuses with their work, through an ongoing residency at Denison University and a mini-residency at The Juilliard School. Their residency on the Balcony Bar at the Metropolitan Museum of Art continues with several appearances.
Circus: Wandering City, an evening-length multimedia performance commissioned by The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art (The Ringling) in Sarasota, kicks off ETHEL's thrilling Winter/Spring 2018 season. Featuring direction by Grant McDonald (The Official Prince Tribute, Esperanza Spalding's Emily's D+ Evolution World Tour, Stars On Ice US & Canada Tours), Circus: Wandering City explores the phenomenon of circus through the eyes and insights of people who have brought excitement and mystery to one of America's most iconographic popular culture experiences. Driving this immersive homage, Circus: Wandering City's projections interweave arresting photographs and film footage from the Museum's Archives into a montage that captures the essence of the circus through its long history, all accompanied by a dramatic and wistful score composed and performed by the members of ETHEL. The production features projection design by John Narun, scenic design by Jason Ardizzone-West, costume design by Beth Goldenberg, sound design by Stowe Nelson, and lighting design by Oona Curley. Produced by Jenney Shamash, Executive Producer Karen Jenkins
While the quartet and their collaborators have been developing Circus since 2015, the recent closure of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, whose final performances took place in May of 2017, lends urgency to the project-rendering it both a celebration and an incidental, vital memorial at the end of an era. Circus: Wandering City makes its world premiere on the 250th anniversary of the modern circus.
ETHEL will present new performances of its acclaimed show The River, an integral journey in instrumental virtuosity, song and storytelling. The tour comes in the wake of its 2016 NAMA-nominated release of the same title (Innova Recordings), andfurthers ETHEL's wildly successful nine-year collaboration with Native American musician, actor, writer, instrument builder and three-time GRAMMY® Award-winner Robert Mirabal. Here, ETHEL and Mirabal take inspiration from Water as the embodiment of the Spirit, and evoke the magic and majesty of "the river" which connects us all, with the live performance immersing the audience in a flow of music, narrative and ritual. The music of The River evokes timeless Native American traditions, re-imagined through the contemporary ear. The project has been featured by PRI's The World, NPR's Native America Calling, and, 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 22 at Gorell Recital Hall, Indiana University of PA, Indiana, PA
· March 15 at Stewart Theatre, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC
· April 12 at Centennial Hall, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
· April 14 at Parker Arts, Culture and Events Center, Parker, CO
This season also features a performance of Blue Dress,on March 4 at the West Garden Court, National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Blue Dress is ETHEL's latest signature evening-length program, featuring music by Missy Mazzoli, Anna Clyne, ETHEL's own Dorothy Lawson, and Pulitzer Prize and MacArthur Award-winner Julia Wolfe, as well as ETHEL treatments of the music of these artists' sources of inspiration: powerhouses like Aretha Franklin, Stevie Nicks, and Janis Joplin. Honoring women composers who are making their musical mark on the 21st century, Blue Dress takes Julia Wolfe's Blue Dress for String Quartet (commissioned by ETHEL) as its centerpiece. Blue Dress for String Quartet celebrates the passion and energy of bluegrass in the context of a grand soundscape of ecstatic organ-like string sonorities. By exploring new compositions by three of today's most influential composers, side by side with the groundbreaking music of their Muses, ETHEL offers a distinctive and stirring read on their interconnections.
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 12-13, February 16-17 & 23-34, March 16-17, April 6-7, May 11-12, June 1-2 & 15-16. For additional dates, please visit the MetLiveArts page on the museum's website.
The quartet 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 March 5-10 and April 22-27. In other educational work, ETHEL comes to Queens College's Kupferberg Center for the Arts for the College's Revelations arts education program, with a one-night performance of Wide World of Music, featuring contemporary compositions that have been influenced by popular or folk traditions from around the world. (January 30, at the Queens College's Colden Auditorium) The program is presented in an upbeat format, to include new works from such composers as Marcelo Zarvos (Brazil), Robert Mirabal (Taos Pueblo) Timo Alakotila (Finland), Carlo Mombelli (South Africa), Rodney Yazzie (Navajo Nation), and members of ETHEL.
ETHEL was established in New York City in 1998, quickly earning 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 them as "indefatigable and eclectic," and The New Yorker has deemed them"vital and brilliant." Nearly two decades into their singular career, ETHEL has in turn become seminal in its own right, a path-breaker for countless new 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. 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 (album released June 2016); the introspective Grace, featuring ETHEL's arrangements of music by Ennio Morricone and Jeff Buckley; and Blue Dress, which pays 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, Joe Jackson, Ursula Oppens, Juana Molina, Tom Verlaine, STEW, Andrew Bird, Thomas Dolby, Jeff Peterson, Laurence Hobgood, Jake Shimabukuro and Vijay Iyer.
ETHEL's self-titled debut album was a Billboard "Best Recording of '03." Light ranked #3 on Amazon.com's "Best of '06." Oshtali: Music for String Quartet, '10, is the first commercial recording of American Indian student works, and Heavy, '12, was a Q-2 "Album of the Week." The recording of ETHEL'S Documerica, '15, was featured by The New York Times' Press Play and on iTunes' classical front page. The River with guest artist Robert Mirabal debuted in 2016, and was nominated for a NAMMY award.
ETHEL has appeared as a guest artist on over a dozen music labels, to include: Laurence Hobgood's tesseterra (label TBD, 2017); 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); The Duke by Joe Jackson (Razor & Tie, 2012); A Map of the Floating City by Thomas Dolby (Redeye Label, 2011); 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).
The quartet regularly performs works by all of the members of the ensemble, alongside music by Philip Glass, Julia Wolfe, John King, 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. 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, where the quartet members were awarded honorary doctorates during the 2017 commencement exercises.
ETHEL is: Ralph Farris (viola), Kip Jones (violin), Dorothy Lawson (cello) and Corin Lee (violin).