With a diverse background in many different musical styles and a knowledge of and passion for world cultures, Ethos can customize its concert programming for varying audiences and performance situations.
Three of their most widely-acclaimed programs are:
Pulse of the 20th Century
In this compelling retrospective, Ethos presents landmark works by John Cage, Lou Harrison, Steve Reich and Frank Zappa. Each of these iconic composers featured (and challenged) percussionists in new and innovative ways: Cage, Harrison and Reich added distinctively American dialects to their Asian and African influences, while Zappa brought rock and roll instrumentation and a healthy dose of humor to the complexity associated with the European avant garde. The enduring appeal of their pioneering compositions is revealed through Ethos' masterful use of a battery of exotic instruments, including brake drums, metal pipes, oxen bells and temple bowls. The performances will also introduce audiences to recent Ethos commissions from gifted young composers who are transporting the ingenuity of these "fathers of invention" into the 21st century.
GPS (Global Percussion Synthesis)
The rich percussion traditions central to the identities of cultures throughout the world are rarely presented on a concert stage with the level of expertise afforded by Ethos' unique fluency in global and classical percussion idioms. The musically dexterous "GPS" program features innovative contemporary compositions rooted in rhythms from Brazil, North India, West Africa and the Middle East. Many of the works were written specifically for Ethos by master musicians from around the world and incorporate virtuosic solos on instruments such as tabla, doumbek, riq and djembe.
West (to) Africa
Joined by two world-renown artists from West Africa, Ethos juxtaposes traditional music from Ghana and Guinea with major works by western composers that vividly recontextualize African instruments and musical structures. The program, which was originally created for a special event at the Library of Congress, features gyil master Bernard Woma (from Ghana's National Dance Company) and djembe master M'Bemba Bangoura (from Guinea's Ballet Djoliba) performing music of the Dagara, Susu and Malinke peoples with accompaniment by members of Ethos. In addition, Ethos' expert renditions of compositions by Peter Garland, Steve Reich and Iannis Xenakis embody the power and vitality of Africa's musical heritage that inspired these modern classics.