On Thursday, October 24, at 7:30 p.m., the Western Carolina University Bardo Arts Center presents The River, a cross-cultural concert experience featuring dynamic string quartet ETHEL and GRAMMY-winning Native American musician Robert Mirabal. The members of ETHEL—Ralph Farris (viola), Kip Jones (violin), Corin Lee (violin) and Dorothy Lawson (cello)— have known Mirabal for more than a decade, and this is the second project they’ve worked on together. “The nature of this program is a lovely, peaceful conversation among friends on stage,” says Lawson, who is also a co-founder of ETHEL.
The group gathered at Mirabal’s home on the Taos Pueblo to create The River, which draws influences from a myriad of cultures. Seamlessly blending elements of song, storytelling and instrumental music, each night is a bit of a surprise for the quartet, as Mirabal plays a central storytelling role that is never the same. “Working in this way with Robert has changed the way all of us feel and think about concert presentation,” says Lawson. “It is really sacred for an audience to entrust you with their time and energy and hope that you will give them something. The knowledge that every moment is that special makes our lives more interesting and beautiful and exciting.”
Lawson is confident the Western North Carolina regional audience will enjoy this unique performance because of the area’s vibrant conversation around spirituality. “When we get to bring this performance to an audience where spirituality of many different kinds is a concern and something people actually spend their lives considering, this particular concert becomes that much more powerful,” she says.