ETHEL’s touring programs develop new audiences for contemporary concert music and connect audiences to its constantly renewing repertoire. The group has appeared in 36 states across the U.S. during its three recent seasons, in locations ranging from prominent urban venues, to Hopi and Navajo reservations, to college and university campuses large and small. 2015/16 touring programs include Grace, ETHEL’S Documerica, and The River. Blue Dress will be added in 2016/17.
GRACE – TOURING 2015-16
Featuring a suite from The Mission by Ennio Morricone, as arranged by ETHEL
In all its subtleties, the word, “Grace” connotes effortless beauty and charm, goodwill, a favor, and a reprieve. In complex, stressful times and in a world overwhelmed by seemingly irreconcilable differences and unsustainable challenges, music provides both an immediate means of relief and a medium for real long-term healing and understanding. This program is a journey to redemption through music. ETHEL has pursued this concept in many ways over the years, both in its own creative output, and by opening their hearts and skills to close collaboration with master artists from diverse cultures across the globe.
The centerpiece of this astonishing program is ETHEL’s own adaptation of Ennio Morricone’s moving score to the 1986 film, The Mission, a story of cross-cultural complexities fueled by the quest for redemption against the backdrop of the jungles of South America. Nominated for an Academy Award in 1986, Morricone’s work won that year’s Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score. Also featured on the concert are special quartet treatments honoring the 20th anniversary of the release of Jeff Buckley’s Grace – his glorious, and tragically, only, completed studio album. Favorite ETHEL composers and collaborators Mary Ellen Childs (USA), Marcelo Zarvos (Brazil), and Carlo Mombelli (South Africa) along with original music by members of ETHEL, fill out the program with works both searching and deeply joyful.
ETHEL’S DOCUMERICA – TOURING 2015-16-17
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, performed with electrifying virtuosity by 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. ETHEL’s Documerica juxtaposes manipulated vintage 1970s visuals with the music of today. Inspired by and showcasing evocative imagery from Project Documerica, a 1970s 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.
THE RIVER – TOURING 2015-16-17
with guest artist Robert Mirabal
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. This program features music created by ETHEL and Mirabal together, making truly a quintet for the ages.
BLUE DRESS – TOURING 2016-17
ETHEL 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, contemporary women – including the first performances of Julia Wolfe’s bluegrass-inspired “Blue Dress for String Quartet”- is performed with music created 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.