ETHEL is a New York based string quartet that was co-founded in 1998 by Ralph Farris, viola; Dorothy Lawson, cello; Todd Reynolds, violin; and Mary Rowell, violin. Unlike most string quartets, ETHEL plays with amplification and integrates improvisation into its performances. The group's current membership includes violinists Kip Jones and Tema Watstein. Both joined the group in 2012.
ETHEL performs original music as well as works by notable contemporary composers such as Julia Wolfe, John Zorn, Don Byron, Marcelo Zarvos, Pamela Z, Phil Kline, John King and many more. The group's 2004–2005 season culminated with a 45-city U.S. and European tour with the rock musicians Joe Jackson and Todd Rundgren, which included an appearance on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Their 2005–2006 season included the Cantaloupe Music release of its second CD, Light, performances at BAM Next Wave Festival with choreographer Wally Cardona in New York, first-time performances in Miami (Florida), the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, performance at the new Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York as well as at the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Conference, and a monthly residency at Joe's Pub. In 2008 ETHEL worked with director Annie Dorsen to produce ETHEL’S TruckStop™ : The Beginning which was performed at BAM's Next Wave Festival. Months later, they offered another large scale performance, Wait for Green, presented by World Financial Center in the Winter Garden with choreographer Annie-B Parson. ETHEL returned to the TED Conference in 2010 as the house band, performing with Thomas Dolby, David Byrne and Andrew Bird. They performed at Lincoln Center Out of Doors in the summer of 2010, collaborating with Juana Molina, Dayna Kurtz, Tom Verlaine, Patrick A. Derivaz, Mike Viola and Adam Schlesinger. In 2011, ETHEL was an artist in residence at the Park Avenue Armory.
Members of the group performed or recorded with Bang on a Can, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the New York Chamber Symphony, CONTINUUM, Sheryl Crow, Roger Daltrey, and Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project. Three of ETHEL's founding members (Farris, Lawson, and Rowell) and two of the groups replacement members (Dufallo and Choi) are graduates of the Juilliard School. ETHEL's two newest members, (Jones and Watstein) are alumni of Berklee College of Music and the Manhattan School of Music.
In 2002 the string quartet founded ETHEL's Foundation for the Arts, a nonprofit organization with a mission to support contemporary concert music with collaborative projects, commission of new works, and educational outreach. In keeping with this mission, ETHEL has been the string quartet in residence since 2005 with the Native American Composers Apprenticeship Project (NACAP), an affiliate program of the Grand Canyon Music Festival, which is dedicated to teaching Native American young people to compose concert music. In 2011 NACAP was presented with a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award by First Lady Michelle Obama.
This season ETHEL is touring a program titled Tell Me Something Good with special guest Todd Rundgren. The program includes Lou Harrison's Quartet Set, Herbie Hancock's Watermelon Man, a new commission, Octet 1979, by Judd Greenstein, Sunrise of the Planetary Dream Collector by Terry Riley, Spiegel im Spiegel by Arvo Pärt and Led Zeppelin's Kashmir, as well as an entire set of Todd Rundgren songs performed with Rundgren himself. ETHEL is the current resident ensemble at the Metropolitan Museum's Balcony Bar Also this season, ETHEL will present a multimedia program, ETHEL's Documerica, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Environmental Protection Agency's Documerica, launched in 1972. The program will feature new commissions from American composers; Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate, Ulysses Owens Jr., James "Kimo" Williams, and Mary Ellen Childs, and will include a visual component designed by visual artist Deborah Johnson. ETHEL's Documerica will premier at the Park Avenue Armory as part of its Under Construction series. For a second consecutive year, the Jerome Foundation has announced support of ETHEL's Foundation for the Arts HomeBaked program to commission new works from emerging New York City-based composers. ETHEL has announced that this season's composers will be Hannis Brown, Lainie Fefferman, Dan Friel and Ulysses Owens, Jr., with works premiering in Spring 2013.Continue reading at Wikipedia... Wikipedia content provided under the terms of the Creative Commons BY-SA license