12 MarETHEL: “Heavy” Composer Conversations
ETHEL is gearing up for its upcoming album release of “Heavy” (April 24th) – a power-packed, sonic snapshot of the group’s life in New York City. Recorded over an 18-month period by Cornelius Dufallo (violin), Dorothy Lawson (cello), Mary Rowell (violin), and Ralph Farris (viola), Heavy features works by eight celebrated contemporary composers: Don Byron, John Halle, Julia Wolfe, John King, Raz Mesinai, David Lang, Kenji Bunch, and Marcelo Zarvos.
As we count down the days till April 24th, ETHEL presents a series of composer conversations. Kick-starting it is John King, a provocative electric guitarist/composer and former curator of music programming at the Kitchen.
Heavy Composer Conversation w/ JOHN KING
ETHEL: How and when did you first encounter ETHEL?
JK: i knew ethel before she was even born, when she was just a gleam in her mother’s eye…..i had been commissioned by the Pennsylvania Ballet to write a piece for them, for string quartet. i called up my friend mary rowell (we’d shared the stage on a couple of rock club dates!!) and asked her about string quartets. she was just leaving one quartet and wanted to form a new one, which she did…was called “Hazardous Materials” which then morphed and solidified into ETHEL……
ETHEL: ETHEL’s new album is an homage to New York City and its music. How has NYC influenced your work, and in particular, your piece on this album?
JK: i hear music and get ideas from walking around NYC all the time, some people think of it as cacophony, but i hear it as urban nature…..peaceful in many ways, full of energy and motion….ideas come along and i try to get ‘em down as quick as i can.
ETHEL: The album is entitled “Heavy.” How does this title resonate with your piece?
JK: i think of guitar strings when i hear the word “heavy”, as in the gauge of strings i use…..and i first got the ideas for the piece as i said from walking around and the sounds came to me, but i first whacked ‘em out on my guitar when i got back home…..blues….from my guitar to ETHEL was a short trip…..!
ETHEL: Finish this sentence with one word: “ETHEL is …”
ETHEL: Finish this sentence: “New York City is…”