ETHEL, the post-modern, indie-classical quartet, pays special homage to the brilliant, gorgeous and masterful women who are making their musical mark on the 21st century. Sometimes fierce, sometimes seductive, always full of creativity, composers like Anna Clyne, Missy Mazzoli, and Pulitzer Prize-winner Julia Wolfe, are, through their own voices, warriors and champions of music today.

Repertoire by these powerful and contemporary women – including the first performances of Julia Wolfe’s bluegrass-inspired Blue Dress for String Quartet – is performed with music created by those named, by the composers’ personal sources of inspiration.

Anna Clyne’s favorites include rock legend Stevie Nicks, while Missy Mazzoli draws creative strength from Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, one of the leaders of the worldwide wave of alt rock bands. Julia Wolfe cites the timelessness of Aretha Franklin, who continues in her role as standard-bearer for so many of today’s musicians.  Amplified quartet arrangements of works by these powerhouses are paired with Clyne, Mazzoli, and Wolfe.

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 that is sexy, sumptuous, and boldly beautiful.

ETHEL – Circus-Wandering City, created in partnership with The John and Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota and projection designer/director Grant McDonald, is a full-evening, multi-media performance program inspired by the heroes behind the magic of the Big Top. Performed seamlessly, the work combines stunning images and films from the Ringling Museum’s unmatched archives, intricate projection mapping, and original music composed by members of the quartet.

The music and projections illuminate and reveal a 21st century take on a larger-than-life performing culture of global traditions and origins, while celebrating the wonderment and excitement of one of America’s most iconographic popular culture experiences.

The Circus has always been rich in thematic material: generations of the same family performing together- passing a legacy down through the years, the inherent nomadic nature of the circus artist, and the “outsider” status of those in the sideshows. ETHEL is most moved by the human story of circus, which suggests the stuff of dreams — to fly, to lift mountains, to dance on air, to tame nature, to defy death.

Circus-Wandering City premieres in January 2018 at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida.

Click here for a National Archives video of the Documerica Photography Project.

A meditation on America’s relationship to our land, our resources, and ourselves, Documerica is a multimedia concert that melds multiple screen video projections with original music by some of today’s top composers. Documerica is performed with electrifying virtuosity by the post modern quartet ETHEL.

Described by The New York Times as “new music bonding with old images in rich, provocative and moving ways,” this evening-long program was created in collaboration with projection designer Deborah Johnson and directed by Steve Cosson. ETHELs Documerica juxtaposes manipulated vintage 1970’s visuals with the music of today. Inspired by and showcasing evocative imagery from Project Documerica, a 1970’s photographic archive commissioned by the Environmental Protection Agency, the program explores this compelling snapshot of a tumultuous era that powerfully connects to today’s environmental and social issues.

Featuring new work by ETHEL members and commissioned composers Mary Ellen Childs, Ulysses Owens Jr., Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate, and James Kimo Williams, the program’s music is in constant dialogue with the projections in an arc that is by turns urban, rural, pastoral, and gritty. ETHEL selected composers for ETHEL’s Documerica who represent the diversity of America.  Hailing from different regions, backgrounds and generations, and influenced by a variety of musical practices, genres and forms, each contributes his or her distinctive voice to the program.

Additional Project Information

In 1971, the newly-established EPA created Project Documerica, commissioning outstanding photographers across America to document the state of the environment and its impact on society. The result was an archive of tens of thousands of photographs amassed over nearly a decade. In spite of its historic and cultural significance, this massive artistic project had been largely forgotten until recent digitalization made it more accessible. Forty years after its advent, the imagery of Project Documerica is the inspiration for ETHELs Documerica, which taps the archive’s evocative potential and brings its visual and emotional impact into dialogue with the 21st century.

Continuing a deeply successful six-year collaboration inspired by ceremonies dedicated to the Sun, ETHEL and Robert Mirabal, Native American musician, instrument builder and three time GRAMMY® Award winner present their next evolution of the cross-cultural concert experience. The inspiration this time is Water as the embodiment of Spirit, and its essential role in Life on Earth. The audience is immersed in a flow of music, narrative, and ritual, that evokes timeless Native American traditions through contemporary musical artistry. As delivered by these master performers, the effect is breathtaking, even ecstatic.

The program is an integral journey in instrumental virtuosity, song and storytelling, created uniquely for this event.  From An Kha Na to Peace Calls, through rushing rapids and still, sacred spaces, ETHEL and Robert Mirabal evoke the magic and majestry of The River which connects us all. In retreat together, at Mirabal’s home on the Taos Pueblo, each of the artists brought original musical or poetic works with special significance to the group: Mirabal’s own An Kha Na, his tribal Wi-Wa, Kip Jones’ Tuvan Ride, Jay-Red and Tsoma, Dorothy Lawson’s Gat’te, Ralph Farris’ Rana-Run and Waterfall. As the Pueblo river rushed past the door, storms came and went, and coyotes howled in the night, the pieces grew in scope and depth, each player contributing layers and insights.  Influences were drawn in from Hawaii, Arizona, Mexico, Ecuador, Morocco, Nigeria, India, Mongolia, Tibet, Japan, and Soviet Georgia.  In sum, the sound is dazzling, and the spirit full of generosity, love, and gratitude.  Every audience will find their hearts healed and their hope raised.


April Thibeault | AMT PR
+1 212 861 0990