Sunday, September 21, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

ETHEL string quartet teams with Rundgren for wide-ranging program

By
From page A8 | October 31, 2012 |

The string quartet ETHEL — known for pushing the musical boundaries for the classic combination of two violins, viola and cello — visits the Mondavi Center’s Jackson Hall at 8 p.m. Saturday.

And true to form, the group will perform an arrangement of medieval music by a noted California composer, a string quartet version of a jazz standard by Herbie Hancock, a haunting arrangement of a spare melody by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt … and a set of tunes by rocker and songwriter Todd Rundgren, who will contribute vocals and electric guitar.

There also will be an original piece commissioned by ETHEL — “Octet 1979″ by Judd Greenstein, written in 2011. According to ETHEL violinist Kip Jones, “the octet aspect comes from the four string parts (performed live) plus four parts for analog synthesizers, which are pre-recorded. The house will hear the strings and synthesizers together. It’s invigorating and exciting.”

Careful listeners soon will realize that while they initially might have thought they were hearing “a bunch of disparate information,” there is, in fact, “a cohesive musical stream” moving through the piece. “Most people really enjoy it,” Jones said.

A late addition to the program is Hancock’s “Watermelon Man,” a tune he recorded (in a “hard bop” style) on his first album (“Takin’ Off”) in 1962, and then reworked in a funky style with synthesizers on the “Headhunters” album in 1973.

“We’re taking some North Congolese sounds and translating them to the vernacular of string instruments,” Jones said.

The group also will play the first movement of Lou Harrison’s “String Quartet Set” from 1979. The movement is a set of variations on Walther von der Vogelweide’s “Song of Paradise” (“Nu alrest leb’ ich mir werde”). Walther lived from 1170 to 1228, and the  variations are in European-style quintal counterpoint, also medieval in  origin.

Harrison, who had a strong interest in medieval music, became interested in the melody in the 1940s while living on the East Coast, and ultimately included the music in his “String Quartet Set” in 1979, by which time Harrison had settled in coastal Santa Cruz County and had become a major voice in West Coast music. These variations were begun in the 1940s when Harrison first encountered the  Minnesinger’s lovely melody.

Also in the set will be a string quartet arrangement of Pärt’s 1978 composition “Spiegel im Spiegel,” which was written just as the composer was preparing to leave his native Estonia after many years of clashes with Soviet authorities, and settle in Western Europe. Sparely scored and ethereal, it has become one of the composer’s most performed works.

Pärt visited Davis several times in the 1990s, when conductor Paul Hillier, who recorded much of Pärt’s music with the group Theatre of Voices, was on the UCD music faculty.

The second half of the concert will feature ETHEL in partnership with Rundgren.

“We’ve arranged a number of his tunes for strings — we’re taking the forms from his recordings (originally with rock bands). The keys are all the same,” Jones said. “But I think they’re going different places than the recorded versions. Taking something from an electric bass part or drums, and assigning it to string, different things (in the music) become focal points.

“Someone who knows the recordings will get a lot of hearing how differently they work (with a string quartet), and people who don’t know the recordings will be floored by the energy.”

The Rundgren set will include some of his standards from the 1970s, including “I Saw the Light” and “Black Maria” (both from his 1972 album “Something/Anything?”) as well as “Flamingo” and “Zen Archer” — also an adaptation drawn from Gilbert and Sullivan: “Lord Chancellor’s Nightmare Song.”

And what about the name the string quartet has taken — ETHEL? Does it mean something?

Jones giggled and said, “The fact of the matter is that it’s a Borgesian question, and whenever the question is asked, we make up an impromptu story that makes everybody laugh.” (The reference is to the writings of Jorge Luis Borges, whose riddle-like short stories questioned the nature of reality and memory.)

A pre-performance talk featuring a member of ETHEL will take place in Jackson Hall at 7 p.m. Tickets for the 8 p.m. concert are $35-$58 general, $17.50-$29 students, available at www.mondaviarts.org or 530-754-2787.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at jhudson@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8055.

Comments

comments

.

News

Elementary school counselors: necessary, but poorly funded

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
 
Bet Haverim hosts High Holy Day services

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1

 
Teams assess damage as wildfire burns

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
Driver arrested for DUI after Saturday morning crash

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

Help raise funds for juvenile diabetes cure

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Jewelry, art for sale at Senior Center

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Davis Community Meals needs cooks

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Da Vinci awarded $38,000 for restorative justice program

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

 
Hawk Hill trip planned Sept. 30

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

UC campus chancellors granted hefty pay raises

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Send kids to camp!

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Outdoor yoga marathon celebrates community

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
Wise words

By Sue Cockrell | From Page: A12

 
.

Forum

Awareness is key to this fight

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Where is this going?

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A6

We’re living in the Golden State of emergency

By Debra DeAngelo | From Page: A6

 
Options for protection come with flu season

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Are we there yet? Not enough hours in the day to goof off

By Tanya Perez | From Page: A6Comments are off for this post

 
Don’t sell city greenbelt

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Paso Fino project is flawed

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
Paso Fino — it’s not worth it

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Archer will get my vote

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
It’s time for Davis Scouts to stand up for what is right

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

Mike Keefe cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

 
Building something at schools’ HQ

By Our View | From Page: A10

Speak out

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Maybe David can beat Goliath again

By Lynne Nittler | From Page: A11 | Gallery

.

Sports

DHS gets on its Morse to beat Edison

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
JV Blue Devils drop low-scoring affair

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B2

 
Republic FC’s fairy tale season continues

By Evan Ream | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Wire briefs: Giants rally falls short in San Diego

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Four local swimmers qualify for Olympic Trials

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

‘We’re a way better team’ than record, says UCD’s Shaffer

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B4 | Gallery

 
UCD roundup: Aggie men pound Pomona-Pitzer in the pool

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B4

Davis 15-year-old making a splash in European F4 series

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
.

Features

.

Arts

‘Ladies Foursome’ adds shows

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
.

Business

MBI hires VP of marketing

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
UCD grad’s startup earns kudos at TechCrunch event

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

Styles on target for November debut

By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A7

 
Taylor Morrison unveils new Woodland community next weekend

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

Rob White: What is an ‘innovation center’?

By Rob White | From Page: A9

 
.

Obituaries

Carol L. Walsh

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Sunday, September 21, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B8