Ethel mentors young composers

Ethel performs works by Chickasaw Student Composers
Thunderbird Records

For their latest recording, contemporary string quartet Ethel traveled from their stomping grounds in New York City to Oklahoma. There, they recorded pieces by high school and college age Native American student composers: all of them students of Jerod Impichchaachaaha Tate at the Chickasaw Arts Academy.

To my knowledge, this is the first recording entirely devoted to the music of Native American student composers. And while it would be unfair to point out standouts and more ‘gradually emerging works’ in such a collection, there’s plenty about which to enthuse. This is a talented group of youngsters who’ve clearly taken a great deal of care to write sensitively, imaginatively and, in many cases, quite idiomatically for strings. It’s clear that both Tate and Ethel have engaged in a labor of love: diligently mentoring these students and preparing well for the recording. The playing is energetic, accurate, and enthusiastic: more than most composers hope for from their string quartet debut!

Another aspect that’s worthy to note is the stylistic diversity of the pieces. There’s never a sense that this is a CD that is solely about Native American signatures, although these are incorporated quite organically into some of pieces contained therein. Rather, the students are encouraged to create works that draw upon the many different types of music that engage them: classical, modern, folk, and pop. One student even name checks Icelandic post-rockers Sigur Rós!

Thus, Oshtali is a respectfully curated, well conceived educational project that also proves to be a lively compilation of works for string quartet.

New Recording of In C: GVSU live at LPR

Hot on the heels of their Innova release In C Remixed, Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble has made a new recording of Terry Riley’s In C. A 2009 live date at Le Poisson Rouge, it features composer/producer/laptop musician Dennis DeSantis alongside the ensemble in a 65-minute rendition of the piece.

This version is different from the material on the Innova disc. It takes some of DeSantis’ remixing and electronica talents that were briefly on display there and blows them up to a full, intensely interactive, electro-tinged In C for 2010.

The release is available digitally via Ghostly International. Previously known as a quirk pop/electronica outfit, this is the label’s first foray into concert music. One hopes that its the first of many!

They’ve been kind enough to allow us to share a five-minute selection of the performance here.

In C (excerpt)