Renowned string quartet ETHEL comes to town with a sneak preview of Circus- Wandering City, a new multimedia musical experience at Hudson Hall
ETHEL: Circus – Wandering City
September 15, 7:00pm
September 16, 7:00pm
September 17, 3:00pm
Commissioned by The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art
Co-commissioned by Brooklyn Academy of Music
at the historic Hudson Opera House
327 Warren Street
Hudson, NY 12534
ETHEL returns to Hudson Hall at the historic Hudson Opera House with exclusive preview performances of its fully realized Circus – Wandering City, the acclaimed string quartet’s new multimedia work inspired by the American circus and its people. The work combines stunning film and imagery from the Ringling Museum’s vast archive with original music composed and performed live by ETHEL. Tickets for the concert are $35, $15 for youth 18 and under. For more information or tickets, visit hudsonhall.org or phone (518) 822-1438.
Special thanks to Drop Forge & Tool, Hudson Lodge, and Second Ward Foundation for making the Hudson residency possible.
Circus – Wandering City is a unique, multimedia theatrical experience two years in the making. Hudson Hall was ETHEL’s upstate home away from home while developing the project, which included a workshop residency last summer co-hosted by the Second Ward Foundation. This fall, ETHEL returns to Hudson Hall for a two-week residency to finalize the staging and fully assemble the ambitious technical components of the show for the first time. They will then present three special preview performances of the completed production in advance of the world premiere at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida, kicking off a two-year world tour. The evening-length production, begun in 2015, arrives at a particularly poignant moment, shortly after the closing of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and coinciding with the 250th anniversary of the modern circus.
Under the direction of projection designer Grant McDonald, the genesis of Circus lies in the collaborating artists’ exposure to the vast resources of The Ringling, and input gathered from contemporary circus artists. The human stories of the circus, which suggest the stuff of dreams—to fly, to move mountains, to dance on air, to tame nature, and to defy death—moved them to tell these stories in a way that carries forward the anticipation, fortitude, and transcendence that characterizes the lives behind the Big Top.
Preserving and sharing the history and spirit of the American circus is part of the mission of The Ringling. Steven High, executive director at The Ringling, says of Circus, “It is wonderful to see these artifacts being used in such an innovative and creative way.”
Ralph Farris, co-founder and violist of ETHEL, says, “ETHEL loves Hudson and ETHEL loves Hudson Hall! To share our work with good friends – old and new – in this most beautiful and revered space, is such a gift. Step right up and join us! There promises to be something for everyone in this show – It’s a bit wacky, sometimes quite intense, and oftentimes downright gorgeous. We can’t wait to play for you!”
Described as “extraordinarily skilled, passionate musicians” by The New York Times and “virtuosic, vital and brilliant” by The New Yorker, ETHEL has garnered immense praise not only for the ensemble’s musicianship, but also for creating rich, often multimedia, stage productions such as ETHEL’s Documerica, inspired by the tens of thousands of images shot as part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s decade-long Project Documerica, launched in 1971. Other critically acclaimed projects include: The River, a collaboration with Taos Pueblo flutist Robert Mirabal; the introspective Grace, featuring ETHEL’s arrangements of music by Ennio Morricone and Jeff Buckley (performed at Hudson Hall in 2014); and Blue Dress, which pays homage to women making their musical mark on the 21st century.
Composed and performed by the members of ETHEL, Circus – Wandering City features direction by Grant McDonald, projection design by John Narun, scenic design by Jason Ardizzone-West, costume design by Beth Goldberg, lighting design by Oona Curley and sound design by Stowe Nelson. Produced by Jenney Shamash, Executive Producer Karen Jenkins.
Established in New York City in 1998, ETHEL quickly earned a reputation as one of America’s most adventurous string quartets by playing with the intensity and accoutrements of a rock band. Hailed asheirs to the likes of the Kronos Quartet and Soldier String Quartet, they are part of a generation of young artists blending uptown, conservatory musicianship with downtown genre-crossing.The New York Times has described them as “indefatigable and eclectic,” and The Village Voice has called them “a genre unto [themselves].” Nearly two decades into their singular career, ETHEL has in turn become seminal in its own right, a path-breaker for countless younger genre-spanning ensembles and a prolific commissioner of new music.
At the heart of ETHEL is a collaborative ethos—a quest for a common creative expression that is forged in the celebration of community. The quartet’s original stage productions exemplify this aspect of ETHEL’s artistry.
The quartet regularly performs original works by members of the ensemble alongside music by contemporary composers like Philip Glass, Julia Wolfe, Phil Kline, David Lang, Dan Friel, John Zorn, Missy Mazzoli, Anna Clyne, Steve Reich, Don Byron, Aleksandra Vrebalov, Marcelo Zarvos, Pamela Z, Evan Ziporyn and Terry Riley. Over the past five years, ETHEL has premiered over 150 new works, many of them commissioned by the quartet.
ETHEL is the Resident Ensemble at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Balcony Bar and Ensemble-in-Residence at Denison University.
ETHEL is Ralph Farris (viola), Kip Jones (violin), Dorothy Lawson (cello) and Corin Lee (violin).
About Grant McDonald
Grant McDonald is the Artistic Director of the techno-centric production company Rescue Agreement, where he has collaborated as Director or Projection Designer on dozens of concerts, theatre productions, installations and live events across the US and internationally. Current and recent projects include The Official Prince Tribute (Xcel Energy Center), Esperanza Spalding’s Emily’s D+ Evolution (World Tour), Black Mountain Songs (The Barbican/BAM) and Dolce & Gabbana’s Tirelli Tribute (NYC). McDonald has served as projection consultant on hundreds of productions across the globe, most recently Mariah Carey’s Number One to Infinity (Caesar’s Palace residency), various productions at the Park Avenue Armory, and Alt-J’s This is All Yours (World Tour). More on his collaborations can be found at http://www.GrantMcDonald.com.