In a concert tour worth catching, post-classical string quartet Ethel, along with multiplatinum artist Todd Rundgren, presents "Tell Me Something Good," a show built around the music that made the 1970s rock. These five musicians will take the stage Sunday in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center's Kay Theatre on the University of Maryland campus.
This is a combination that proved so successful in its initial collaboration on a European tour in 2005 that a second go-around was inevitable.
"Honestly, I was blown away by the generosity off Todd Rundgren, [who] has been so gracious to share the stage with us and come on this road tour," said Ralph Farris, the quartet's viola player. "He's a brilliant performer, and his fans are so supportive of him. He's inspiring to work with."
Ethel was formed in 1998 and also includes cellist Dorothy Lawson and violinists Kip Jones and Tema Watstein. As a quartet, these musicians have been extremely successful fusing a variety of musical genres into a captivating, avant-garde sound that has audiences of all musical styles and tastes applauding. In the past three years alone, Ethel has introduced more than 50 new works by modern composers -- some of them commissioned and others their own original works.
|'Tell Me Something Good'|
|Where: University of Maryland, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, University Boulevard and Stadium Drive, College Park|
|When: 7 p.m. Sunday|
|Info: $10 to $45; 301-405-ARTS (2787); claricesmithcenter.umd.edu|
"We're musical omnivores; we love any style you throw at us," Farris continued. "We consider ourselves to be an alternative concert group; we're representing the new music that says, 'It's all music,' everything fits and everything has a home on the stage."
In "Tell Me Something Good," a name inspired by the Stevie Wonder song and made famous by Rufus and Chaka Khan, this distinctive collaboration of strings, (including Rundgren's electric and amplified acoustic guitar) presents a program of innovative compositions coupled with a fiery dose of nontraditional improvisation all worked around the sounds and scenes of the 1970s. Listeners can expect a concert that includes Lou Harrison's Quartet Set, and a new work by Judd Greenstein that incorporates the sound of -- blast from the past -- synthesizers.
"There's a little bit of something for everyone in our programs," Farris explained. And we really ... cherish the joy of music-making."