School of Music

ETHEL string quartet reads USM student compositions

ETHEL string quartetIn collaboration with Portland Ovations, the USM School of Music will present the string quartet ETHEL in a public reading of USM music student compositions. The reading session will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, January 30 in Corthell Concert Hall on the USM Gorham campus.

In this workshop ETHEL provides critical feedback on the music of the student composers in an open reading session that will address issues of notation, style, performance practice and emotional intent.

Admission is $6 at the door.

Student composers are: Tim Burns (MM comp); Jimmy Dority (BA - comp); Katie Gilchrest (BA alumnus - '10); Roy MacNeil (BM viola); Josh Newton (MM comp); Aaron Pettengill (BM violin).

For those who may not know what a "public reading" is, it's not a concert, but more like a master class. The professional players will perform these original compositions, perhaps with little or no rehearsal, and give their feedback to the student composers about what works well, and what might be improved. This is a part of the academic process, to which the public is invited to observe.

The USM School of Music offers the Master of Music degree in Composition. Dan Sonenberg is the school's resident composer, and also leads the Composers Ensemble for both undergraduate and graduate student participation. For more about about School of Music academic programs, contact the main office at 207-780-5265 or

About the performers
Over the past three years, ETHEL has premiered over 50 new works by 20th- and 21st-century composers, including pieces that were commissioned by the quartet or composed by ETHEL. Recent premieres and noteworthy performances include: Phil Kline’s SPACE at the gala reopening of Alice Tully Hall; RADIO by Osvaldo Golijov at the debut of WNYC Radio’s Jerome L. Greene Space; ETHEL’s TruckStop®: The Beginning at BAM’s Next Wave Festival; ETHEL Fair: The Songwriters at opening night of Lincoln Center’s Out of Doors Festival; WAIT FOR GREEN with choreography by Annie-B Parson, commissioned by arts>World Financial Center; ETHEL’s HonBiBaekSan by Dohee Lee at Meet the Composer’s 3-City Dash Festival; ETHEL’s HomeBaked series featuring commissioned works by emerging NYC composers Andy Akiho, Anna Clyne, Judd Greenstein and Matt Marks, as well as premieres by Rick Baitz and Randall Woolf at the Tribeca New Music Festival; and works by contemporary music luminaries such as Julia Wolfe, John Zorn, Steve Reich, John King, Raz Mesinai, David Lang, Scott Johnson, Kenji Bunch, Don Byron, Marcelo Zarvos and Evan Ziporyn.

ETHEL has initiated innovative collaborations with an extraordinary community of international artists that include David Byrne, Bang on a Can, Kaki King, Ursula Oppens, Loudon Wainwright III, STEW, Ensemble Modern, Jill Sobule, Dean Osborne, Howard Levy, Joshua Fried, Andrew Bird, Iva Bittová, Colin Currie, Thomas Dolby, Jeff Peterson, Steve Coleman, Stephen Gosling, Jake Shimabukuro and Polygraph Lounge. ETHEL has appeared as a guest artist on a dozen music labels and was recently featured on: A Map of the Floating City by Thomas Dolby (2012); The Duke by Joe Jackson (2012); John the Revelator: A Mass for Six Voices by Phil Kline (Cantaloupe Music, 2008) with vocal group Lionheart; and the Grammy Award-winning Dedicated to You: Kurt Elling Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman (Concord Records, 2009). The quartet also serves as the Ensemble-in-Residence at the Grand Canyon Music Festival as part of the Native American Composers Apprenticeship Project. ETHEL recorded Oshtali: Music for String Quartet (Thunderbird Records, 2010), the first commercial recording of American Indian student works.

Visit Portland Ovations for more information about ETHEL's January 30th evening performance, 7:30 p.m. at Hannaford Hall on the USM Portland campus.

Learn more about ETHEL at

Many thanks to our sponsor:

Portland Ovations



Members of the press, and those needing special accommodations to participate fully in this program, contact Lori Arsenault, (207) 780-5142, Hearing impaired: call USM's telex / TDD number (207) 780-5646

(Photo by James Ewing)