Press Releases:

Ensemble in Residence Partnership with Quartet ETHEL Announced

August 18, 2014

Denison University announces the launch of its first Ensemble-in-Residence program, a collaboration between the Department of Music and the Vail Series. The Ensemble-in-Residence program will engage the entire campus and the greater community in an exploration of music and other academic disciplines. The program will host the renowned string quartet ETHEL for the 2014-2015 academic year.

“We look forward to having ETHEL on campus to deepen the learning of all our students and engage our community across a variety of settings,” said Denison President Adam Weinberg. “This is a fantastic opportunity for our students to connect with world-class musicians about music and over a whole host of academic disciplines.”

Founded in 1998 and based in New York, ETHEL is comprised of Ralph Farris (viola), Kip Jones (violin), Dorothy Lawson (cello) and Tema Watstein (violin).

ETHEL experienced its first Denison welcome at the opening of last year’s Vail Series. “Those who attended that concert, as well as their bonus performance in front of Doane Library, can attest to their virtuosity as well as the connection they made with the Denison community,” says Mike Morris, interim director of the Vail Series. “In turn, ETHEL’s musicians were taken by our students’ level of engagement and the warm reception they received at Denison.”

As the Denison University Ensemble-in-Residence, ETHEL will be on campus for three weeks in 2014/15; Tuesday, Oct. 21 to Saturday, Oct. 25; Monday, March 2 to Saturday, March 7, during which they will be the featured performers for the Tutti New Music Festival; and finally from Wednesday, April 22 to Saturday, April 25.

The quartet will coach and mentor students in the music department. In addition, they will engage their talents in a series of interdisciplinary activities, including:

  • With the Dance Department: Workshops in improvisation with Technique and Improvisation classes
  • With Environmental Studies: A lunch discussion on considerations of being an environmentally active ensemble, which will include subjects such as an ETHEL member’s efforts to reclaim a New York City park, and how to reduce a touring artist's carbon footprint.
  • With the Communication Department: Contributions from their perspective regarding music and the arts.
  • With the Homestead: Tour, dinner and seminar presentation.
  • With the Newark Granville Youth Symphony: A master class, funded in part by a grant from Arts Midwest.
  • With Kendal of Granville: A mini-concert and reception.

As part of their residency, ETHEL will carry the Denison banner with them as they perform and conduct master classes across the country and internationally.

“We are excited to have ETHEL help tell the Denison story of students from around the world who come together to pursue academic inquiry and research, to analyze and solve problems, and to forge the skills needed to succeed,” says Ching-chu Hu, associate professor of music.

“We are so pleased to be returning to Denison,” says Ralph Farris, co-founder and violist of ETHEL. “We feel so welcomed into this thriving community and look forward to working with everyone. It’s going to be a fantastic year!”


Acclaimed as “unfailingly vital” (The New York Times), “brilliant,” “downtown’s reigning string quartet” (The New Yorker), and “one of the most exciting quartets around” (Strad Magazine), ETHEL invigorates the contemporary music scene with exuberance, intensity, imaginative programming, and exceptional artistry.

At the heart of ETHEL is a quest for a common creative expression that is forged in the celebration of community. As cultural and musical “pollinators,” the quartet brings its collaborative discoveries to audiences through multi-dimensional musical repertoire and community engagement.