In showcasing culturally diverse and interesting performances, Minnesota State University Moorhead’s Cheryl Nelson Lossett Arts Series has hosted some very singular events so far. Now coming up on the third of this season’s four shows, this arts series will present perhaps its most diverse performance yet: a flutist and string quartet crisscrossing genres and cultures with music.
“If you’re going to have a group do something, take a different approach to something, they better be really good at it or it can really be stupid or hokey,” Rebecca Sundet-Schoenwald, managing director of the arts series, said of the series’ performances. “They’ve got to be fabulous artists.”
ETHEL (the New York-born string quartet) and Robert Mirabal (world-famous Pueblo flutist/flute-maker) bring their collaborative concert “Music of the Sun” to MSUM’s Gaede Stage on January 25. Presenting music inspired by sun mythology from around the world, this collaboration could not be better chosen as both artists already have heavy histories in other collaborative efforts.
Robert Mirabal hails from the American Southwest, where he lives a traditional rancher’s life with his family, continuing the ways of his people. His flute-making is world-renowned, and many of his flutes have been displayed in the Smithsonian’s Museum of the American Indian.
“He’s a rancher, farmer – so he’s got that really traditional life but then he’s also traveling all over the world performing, so he’s got the best of both worlds,” Sundet-Schoenwald said.
Mirabal’s recordings have grabbed two Grammys and his history of collaborations include percussionist Reynaldo Lujan, Native singer/songwriter Bill Miller and – for the past few years -ETHEL.
This string quartet is composed of violas, violin and cello, and for over 15 years have been performing, though a few members have come and gone over the years. Their collaborations have included the likes of guitar virtuoso Kaki King, multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird, avant-garde violinist Iva BottivÃ¡ and many more.
ETHEL’s accolades are numerous, including a nine-year Ensemble-in-Residence status at the Grand Canyon Music Festival’s Native American Composers Apprenticeship Project. Their work with emergent indigenous musicians resulted in the release of an album entirely comprised of Native student works, the first commercially available recording of its kind. The group’s CDs have received heavy praise over the year’s even garnering Best Recording of 2003 by Billboard Magazine with their debut album.
Since 2011, ETHEL and Mirabal have toured “Music of the Sun,” a concert inspired by ancient sun mythology. However, this is not the first time the two artists have teamed up. In 2008, Mirabal joined ETHEL onstage at the Brooklyn Academy of Music for the group’s “TruckStop” concert piece, showcasing indigenous artists. Their current tour has taken them all over, with stops planned in Florida, Montana and Minnesota.
For the Lossett Arts Series, this collaboration defines what the program is all about, as showcasing cultural diversity is its core. What is more is that audience members can expect the best, as these artists must be A1 for this arts series.
“It’s really, really critical for the series though that they are at the very top of their game in terms of artistic ability,” Sundet-Schoenwald stated.
“Music of the Sun” is presented at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 25 at MSUM’s Gaede Stage. Tickets are $28 for adults, $24 for seniors/MSUM alumni and $12 for non-MSUM students, and are available by phone at 218-477-2271 or mnstate.edu/perform.