Acclaimed as “one of the most exciting quartets around” (Strad Mag) and “as a necessary jet of cold water in the contemporary classical scene” (Pitchfork.com), the string quartet ETHEL has been a post-classical pioneer since it was founded in 1998. ETHEL invigorates contemporary concert music with exuberance, intensity, imaginative programming and exceptional artistry. With an eye on tradition and an ear to the future, ETHEL is a leading force in concert music's reengagement with musical vernaculars, fusing diverse traditions into a vibrant sound that resonates with audiences the world over. The New York City-based quartet comprises Ralph Farris (viola), Dorothy Lawson (cello), Kip Jones (violin) and Tema Watstein (violin).
ETHEL's 2012-13 season commences with a nationwide tour of “Tell Me Something Good,” a
celebration of the culture and sounds of the 1970s featuring rock icon Todd Rundgren. Other highlights include: a preliminary performance/workshop of “ETHEL’s Documerica” as part of the Park Avenue Armory’s week-long “Under Construction” series in New York City; the world premiere in the Netherlands of “Cross Avenue;” a new work by composers Jeroen Strijbos and Rob van Rijswijk; collaborative projects and concerts with virtuoso guitarist Kaki King; ongoing performances with Native American flutist Robert Mirabal; appearances as the official house band of TEDxManhattan; and newly commissioned works by Mary Ellen Childs, Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate, Ulysses Owens Jr., James "Kimo" Williams, Hannis Brown, Lainie Fefferman and Dan Friel.
Off-stage, ETHEL continues to receive acclaim for its third album, Heavy (Innova Recordings, 2012), which has been described as “another beautiful reality of contemporary music” (All About Jazz).
Over the past three years, ETHEL has premiered over 50 new works by 20th- and 21st-century composers, including pieces that were commissioned by the quartet or composed by ETHEL. Recent premieres and noteworthy performances include: 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 at BAM’s Next Wave Festival; ETHEL Fair: The Songwriters at opening night of Lincoln Center’s Out of Doors Festival; WAIT FOR GREEN with choreography by Annie-B Parson, commissioned by arts>World Financial Center; ETHEL's HonBiBaekSan by Dohee Lee at Meet the Composer’s 3-City Dash Festival; ETHEL’s HomeBaked series featuring commissioned works by emerging NYC composers Andy Akiho, Anna Clyne, Judd Greenstein and Matt Marks, as well as premieres by Rick Baitz and Randall Woolf at the Tribeca New Music Festival; and works by contemporary music luminaries such as Julia Wolfe, John Zorn, Steve Reich, John King, Raz Mesinai, David Lang, Scott Johnson, Kenji Bunch, Don Byron, Marcelo Zarvos and Evan Ziporyn.
ETHEL has initiated innovative collaborations with an extraordinary community of international artists that include David Byrne, Bang on a Can, Kaki King, Ursula Oppens, Loudon Wainwright III, STEW, Ensemble Modern, Jill Sobule, Dean Osborne, Howard Levy, Joshua Fried, Andrew Bird, Iva Bittová, Colin Currie, Thomas Dolby, Jeff Peterson, Steve Coleman, Stephen Gosling, Jake Shimabukuro and Polygraph Lounge. ETHEL has appeared as a guest artist on a dozen music labels and was recently featured on: A Map of the Floating City by Thomas Dolby (2012); The Duke by Joe Jackson (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). The quartet also serves as the Ensemble-in-Residence at the
Grand Canyon Music Festival as part of the Native American Composers Apprenticeship Project. ETHEL recorded Oshtali: Music for String Quartet (Thunderbird Records, 2010), the first commercial recording of American Indian student works.
ETHEL will be keynote presents at our October, 2012 symposium: Information, Space and Time: The Arts, Creativity and Learning in the 21st Century.