“Don’t call it a string quartet. It’s a band.”
— Steve Smith, The New York Times
If the words ‘string quartet’ conjure up an image of stuffy, somber classical music, then you haven’t met ETHEL.
ETHEL is a group of string instrument players who, while based in the traditions of classical music, incorporate elements of jazz, blues, folk, post-rock and neo-classical music in their performances. The musicians perform new, original work as well as pieces by prominent contemporary composers, many of them written especially for the group.
ETHEL’s unconventional approach to string music reflects the musical backgrounds of its members: In addition to leading orchestras, they have played and recorded with rockers Sheryl Crow, Roger Daltrey, Tom Verlaine, Thomas Dolby, Joe Jackson, David Byrne, Jill Sobule, and Todd Rundgren. The band’s shows include improvisation, choreography, lighting, and video displays.
Tonight the River to River Festival featured ETHEL and guest guitarist Kaki King in a performance of “…And Other Stories,” in the Winter Garden Atrium at Brookfield Place.
The program included an interpretation of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto #6 as well as works from ETHEL’s repertoire, original compositions by Kaki King, and a rearrangement of Serbian composer Aleksandra Vrebalov’s Logbook.