ETHEL records album of works by Chickasaw Nation students

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ADA, Okla. – America’s premier postclassical string quartet, ETHEL, recently announced the recording and creation of a new album of contemporary classical works by 11 American Indian students (ages 13 – 19) of the Chickasaw Nation.

Slated for a summer 2010 release on the Thunderbird Records label, the album is the first in history to release works of American Indian student composers (students of renowned composer Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate, a citizen of and official composer-in-residence of the Chickasaw Nation). The recording session took place Jan. 22 – 24 at Oklahoma City University’s Wanda L. Bass School of Music.

The recording project is made possible by the Chickasaw Nation and Gov. Bill Anoatubby, and is part of the ongoing groundbreaking initiatives created by the Chickasaw Nation Division of Arts and Humanities.

ETHEL has brought several workshops, tours, and performances to hundreds of children of American Indian reservations over the ensemble’s 11-year history, both as part of ETHEL’s TruckStop project, as well as in their role as ensemble-in-residence as part of the Native American Composers Apprenticeship Project. Collectively, these invaluable experiences add an essential ingredient to the album.

“We’ve been so enriched by the people, cultures, and sounds we’ve experienced over the years that we feel utterly compelled to share them through music,” explained Ralph Farris, violist for ETHEL. “By working with young Native composers who have written music for string quartet, we give these children a chance to hear their music be performed by professional musicians.”

“ETHEL has an unbelievable ability to express multiple styles of expression at the drop of a hat,” Tate said. “This will be a life-changing experience for these young composers.”

All 11 students actively participated in all aspects of the album’s recording from start to finish. According to Alan Bise, producer/owner of Thunderbird Records, it is imperative that these students are involved in every possible way.

“During the recording session, the composition students will be with me in the control room to co-produce the session. That is, they will discuss with ETHEL how they’d like their music to be performed, and what kind of feeling they are trying to convey. During classical recording sessions, we do not often get to collaborate with living composers, so the student’s involvement brings extra meaning to this recording.”

Also, in conjunction with the Chickasaw Nation Division of Arts and Humanities, Thunderbird Records will hold an artwork contest to help determine the album’s cover – whether it’s a painting, drawing or photograph.