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.
In the program Devoted, ETHEL has gathered music of passionate affection and dedication from cultures of the world, and practices as old as time. Following their own conviction that music can elicit intuitive understanding, facilitate moments of empathy, as well as awe and inspiration, ETHEL guides an exotic and deeply informative journey through the music of the great religions, secular love, and communal celebration.
On the way, the audience will traverse the hymns of Appalachia, the plainchant of Hildegard von Bingen, the ecstasy of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and the tribal initiation songs of the Bayaka. There will be Klezmer, Kirtan, Boyobi, love songs and elegies – all expressive of the most significant human experience. Seeking an interfaith dialogue between modernity and antiquity, ETHEL demonstrates an abiding devotion to each other, their craft, and above all, the audience.
Shout unto the LORD, all the earth! Break forth and sing for joy!
– Psalm 98:4
Love has taken away my prayer beads and filled me with poetry and song. I tried to keep quietly repeating, no strength but Yours, but I couldn’t. I had to clap and sing.
– Jalal al-din Rumi
Don’t regard yourselves as the final recipients of […] music […]. Instead, offer your ears and heart to heaven. Let your experience of […] music go up to God.”
― Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Davening: A Guide to Meaningful Jewish Prayer
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. ETHEL’s Documericajuxtaposes 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.
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.
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.
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.