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The idea of a group of classically trained musicians not playing strictly classical music is an old one. Yet it’s still one that’s trotted out as a selling point because, it seems, the classical world still isn’t sold on “new” ideas (even though, you know, it is). But in the age of mash-ups and the free-flowing eclecticism forged by the Internet, a string quartet such as Ethel follows a natural path in exploring its catholic repertoire. Like Bang on a Can, Ethel mixes the avant-garde and world music, improvisation and composition, and pop and folk to create almost mixtape-like albums and concerts. The New York City group sometimes toys with electronics, too, augmenting its supple string serenades with reverb, distortion, and other elements from contemporary music. Because really, that’s all Ethel is playing: modern-day music, free of restrictions, rules, or genres.
Ethel performs at 7:30 p.m. at Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. $25. atlasarts.org. (202) 399-7993.