Ethel and Robert Mirabal March 22

Edison presents Grammy-winning Native American flutist and post-classical string quartet in Music of the Sun

Post-classical string quartet Ethel (pictured) will be joined by Robert Mirabal March 22 for Music of the Sun. Photo by James Ewing. Download hi-res image.

As a child in Taos, N.M. — a traditional Pueblo community that dates back more than 1,000 years — Robert Mirabal recalls being awakened by his grandfather and “running to the sun” as it rose in the east. The ritual, a fusion of physical and spiritual discipline, was an important component of daily life in many Native American cultures.

Now, that memory has helped inspire Music of the Sun, a collaboration between the Grammy Award-winning flutist and the pioneering string quartet Ethel.

Robert Mirabal. Photo by Kate Russell. Download hi-res image.

On Friday, March 22, Ethel and Mirabal will bring Music of the Sun to WUSTL’s 560 Music Center.

The special one-night-only performance is presented as part of the Edison Ovations Series.

Drawing on Native American sun mythology, this cross-cultural concert combines the instruments of the classical string quartet — viola, cello and two violins — with Native American flutes and percussion, and with the voices of students and community members.

The program will feature original compositions by Mirabal as well as new arrangements of ancient Native American music. Rounding out the program will be original works, drawn from Ethel’s extensive repertoire, by Marcelo Zarvos, John Luther Adams and other contemporary composers.

Ethel and Robert Mirabal

Ethel, a post-classical pioneer since its founding in 1998, has been acclaimed as “one of the most exciting quartets around” (Strad Mag) and “as a necessary jet of cold water in the contemporary classical scene” ( Based in New York, the group comprises violist Ralph Farris, cellist Dorothy Lawson and violinists Kip Jones and Tema Watstein.

A leading force in concert music’s reengagement with musical vernaculars, Ethel has collaborated with a wide range of international artists, from David Byrne and Bang on a Can to Kaki King, Loudon Wainwright III and Andrew Bird. In just the last three years alone, the quartet has premiered more than 50 new works by 20th- and 21st-century composers.

Mirabal, who continues to live in Taos, at the foot of the sacred Taos Mountain, has been described as a Native American “Renaissance man” — a musician, composer, painter, master craftsman, poet, actor, screenwriter, horseman and farmer. His numerous honors include a 2002 PBS special, Music From a Painted Cave; a 2006 Grammy Award for Sacred Ground: A Tribute to Mother Earth; and a 2008 Grammy for Johnny Whitehorse Totemic Flute Chants.

Tickets and sponsors

Music of the Sun begins at 8 p.m. Friday, March 22, in the Des Lee Concert Hall of Washington University’s 560 Music Center. Tickets are $36, or $32 seniors, $28 for Washington University faculty and staff and $20 for students and children.

Tickets are available at the Edison Box Office and through all MetroTix outlets. The 560 Music Center is located in University City at 560 Trinity Ave. Edison Theatre is located in the Mallinckrodt Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd.

For more information, call (314) 935-6543, e-mail or visit

Edison programs are made possible with support from the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency; the Regional Arts Commission, St. Louis; and private contributors.