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Established in New York City in 1998, the string quartet ETHEL sets the contemporary concert standard:  “indefatigable and eclectic” (The New York Times), “vital and brilliant” (The New Yorker). Composer performers—Ralph Farris (viola), Kip Jones (violin), Dorothy Lawson (cello), and Corin Lee (violin)—fuse  uptown panache with downtown genre mashup. ETHEL has performed across the United States and  worldwide; released 9 feature albums; guested on 40+ recordings; won a GRAMMY® with jazz legend Kurt  Elling; and toured with Todd Rundgren & Joe Jackson. ETHEL champions the art and music of today,  forging human connections across sound and style. 

At the heart of ETHEL is a collaborative ethos — a quest for common creative expression, forged in listening and community. The quartet designs productions that inspire engagement, such as The River, featuring Taos Pueblo flutist Robert Mirabal, and Signature Sessions, a supercharged survey of the quartet’s 25 years  of inspired music-making. 

ETHEL has premiered over 250 works, many of them commissioned by the quartet; ETHEL members have themselves been commissioned by The Ringling Museum of Art, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Georgia  Tech, and the NEA. The quartet regularly performs music by such celebrated composers as Julia Wolfe,  Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate, Jessie Montgomery, Andy Akiho, and Marcelo Zarvos. Other collaborators  include Bang on a Can All-Stars, Vijay Iyer, Stewart Copeland, Raven Chacon, David Byrne, Annie-B  Parson, Gina Gibney, Grant McDonald, Steve Cosson, and Annie Dorsen. 

Recent and upcoming appearances include the Kennedy Center, Charleston Literary Festival, High Line  Greenway Park, Dumbarton Oaks, and Taos Chamber Music Group. The 2022/23 season also features a  premiere at Brooklyn Public Library, of the fifth chapter of ETHEL’s HomeBaked project, a commissioning  initiative showcasing emerging composers. This concert also features the premiere of a commission of the  Cleveland Orchestra’s Daniel R. Lewis Composer Fellow, flutist Allison Loggins-Hull. 

ETHEL has been featured at TED Conferences; on ABC Radio Australia, SiriusXM, Conan O’Brien, John  Schaefer’s New Sounds, Fred Child’s Performance Today, Randy Cohen’s Person Place Thing, NPR’s  Weekend Edition; and on the soundtracks of Dan In Real Life and HBO’s Deadwood. From mid-2020 to  early ‘22, ETHEL curated and produced Balcony Bar from Home, a virtual series hosted on The Metropolitan  Museum’s Facebook page which has garnered nearly 2 million views. 

ETHEL is Ensemble-in-Residence at Denison University, and Resident Ensemble at The Metropolitan  Museum of Art’s Petrie Court Café. 


Album Review

ETHEL: Light

Read "Light" reviewed by John Kelman

These days musicians raised in compartmentalized traditions can find themselves challenged by the homogeneous blending of diverse musical interests. Not so with Ethel, a young string quartet that may be traditional in configuration, but brings together a wealth of influences--not because it's fashionable, but because it's the only thing that makes sense. Light, the followup to Ethel's remarkable 2003 eponymous debut, continues to explore the nexus of composed music and improvisation with a rawness not normally found in contemporary classical ...

Album Review

ETHEL: Ethel

Read "Ethel" reviewed by John Kelman

While it is an unavoidable fact that the Kronos Quartet has set the standard for contemporary string quartets interpreting an almost exclusively contemporary repertoire, the fact of the matter is that they come from a classical background, and no matter how far they attempt to stray from it, they can't escape it. Their attempts to interpret the music of Thelonious Monk and Bill Evans, for example, did nothing more than highlight their more literal interpretations. Not so with Ethel, whose ...

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