I’d heard of local string quartet Ethel at some other event earlier in the year, but never followed up until seeing they were giving a free concert at the World Financial Center last week.

They’re fantastic. They played a variety of new music which suited their talents, from neoclassical works (I really liked the pieces by Marcelos Zarvos, including a premiere of Double Quartet – Rounds) to more avant garde stuff.

The performance itself was in the Winter Garden, a large atrium with palm trees. The quartet started at one end of the hall, played a few pieces, and then started moving around. Their instruments were wirelessly miked, so they could move around at will, and they played from several configurations, including one set with each player on a different atrium side, and another with two of them playing from the balconies. It was a neat effect, and I was impressed with how well coordinated they remained despite the physical distance between them; even though they had earphones, it’s still difficult to stay in sync without visual contact.

After the performance, I bought
their most recent album Light and have been listening to it about once a day, and enjoying it a lot. Amazon calls it the third best classical album of 2006. If you’re a classical fan, I encourage you to check them out.

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