Music at Bunker Hill prepares strong opener for the eleventh season

NYC based band, ETHEL, to open the season for Music at Bunker Hill

After 10 successful seasons of concerts, Music at Bunker Hill is preparing for its 11th season with a band from New York City named ETHEL.

Martha Frampton, one of the founders and Executive Director of Music at Bunker Hill, discussed the humble beginnings of the nonprofit.

Martha Frampton remembers first being presented with the opportunity to buy a grand piano.

Once she had the piano, she recalls her son William Frampton having the idea to start a concert series.

It was then that Music at Bunker Hill was born.

Although the group uses Bunker Hill Church as a venue, it’s a standalone corporation separate from the church.

The organization’s eleventh season of concerts will kick off on Sunday, Sept. 16, at 3 p.m., with the band ETHEL performing for the first time at Bunker Hill.

The concert series will have refreshments for attendees, which Martha Frampton believes are one of the things patrons look forward to.

“We have volunteers that bring refreshments,” she said. “We have a really nice spread –a variety of sweet, savory and something fresh. People enjoy standing around noshing and talking with the performers afterwards.”

However, refreshments aside, Martha Frampton believes the best part of the concert series is seeing people react to the music.

“I’ve had several moments that I’ve thought it was fantasy, like in ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’,” she said. “(Like) when I saw the performers on stage, and how they’re moving and communicating with their eyes and the audience members also looking at each other and loving the music. My favorite part is seeing the evidence on stage and in the audience that they’re into it.”

However, things did not always come easy for Music at Bunker Hill.

Martha Frampton said it has taken 10 years for the group to build its audience.

“We had a good occupancy rate last year,” she said. “We feel like we’re pretty established and have people that appreciate good music.”

She said that 78 percent of available tickets sold last season.

Martha Frampton said her son, who lives in New York City, introduced her to ETHEL.

William Frampton, the artistic director for Music at Bunker Hill, found ETHEL a few years ago. The schedule this season finally worked for each, so ETHEL is making their debut for Music at Bunker Hill next month.

Ralph Farris, co-founder, co-artistic director and violist for ETHEL, described his band for those not familiar with their body of work which spans 20-years.

“Open-eared and open-hearted,” Farris said. “We always have a mind for collaboration. We all write music and we are influenced by anything from Native American music to classic rock, hip hop drum lines, bluegrass artists, you name it.”

ETHEL is not your grandparent’s string quartet, which is why they chose their name in the first place. In a combined effort of not slighting traditional string quartets while simultaneously keeping a band mentality, ETHEL settled on their name.

“We wanted to avoid a classic name like ‘something something string quartet’,” Farris said. “We wanted to step in a different direction when we decided on ETHEL.”

Farris, who is friends with William Frampton, is thrilled to come to Washington Township to play for the community.

“I thought it would be a treat and an honor to play for his community’s series,” Farris said. “I love the idea of the family musical work — I come from a musical family. It’s a beautiful world and I’m happy to support it.”

Farris believes that all ETHEL shows have a little bit of something for everyone. “We take our programming very seriously. We make sure there’s something that will connect with each audience member no matter what.”

Tickets are available online at www.musicatbunkerhill.org, set at $22 for adults and $10 for students.

For more information on the concert series visit the above website.

For information about ETHEL, visit their website www.ethelcentral.org.