ETHAN FILNER, viola
Acclaimed for viola playing described as "gorgeous" (gramophone and san francisco classical voice), and "beautifully expressive" (honolulu advertiser).
Praised for "wonderfully effective soft playing, full of subtle vibrato and graceful ornamentation" (the strad), "stunning solos...a thick velvety sound that projected without sounding pressed" (san francisco classical voice), and "exquisite musicianship" (sf civic center blog)
Ethan Filner enjoys an active career as performer, teacher, and chamber music coach. Assistant Principal Viola in the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra since 2019, he has also held the Assistant Principal Viola position in the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony since 2017 and taught viola at the University of Toronto Faculty of Music from 2016-2019. From 2001-2016 he was the violist of the internationally-acclaimed, San Francisco-based Cypress String Quartet.
Ethan began playing violin at the age of 4 and viola at 15. Through his experiences in the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, Sequoia Chamber Music Workshop, and the SF Conservatory of Music's Preparatory Division Chamber Music program, he fell in love with the viola's warm sound, deeper voice, and unique role in chamber and orchestral music.
Ethan earned his B.M. with a Minor in Telecommunications from Indiana University-Bloomington, studying viola with Atar Arad (former member of the Cleveland Quartet) and chamber music primarily with Rostislav Dubinsky (founding first violinist of the original Borodin String Quartet). He received a Post-Graduate Diploma in Music from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London studying viola with Roger Chase (former member of the Nash Ensemble) and chamber music with mefmbers of the Takacs and Endellion String Quartets. He also studied with James Dunham for one year as a Master's Degree candidate at New England Conservatory before returning to the Bay Area to join the Cypress String Quartet in 2001.
Over the next 15 years - until the ensemble's disbanding in June 2016 - the Cypress String Quartet toured extensively, performing in concert and on the radio throughout the United States and internationally, including engagements at many renowned American venues like the Kennedy Center, Library of Congress, Ravinia Festival, and Cal Performances. Together they recorded more than 15 critically acclaimed albums, reached over 150,000 students of all ages through innovative educational outreach programs, advocated for classical/chamber music's relevance in contemporary society, and commissioned or premiered dozens of new works from some of the most interesting and exciting composers working today, including George Tsontakis, Kevin Puts, Jennifer Higdon, Elena Ruehr, and Philippe Hersant. Learn more about the CSQ at www.cypressquartet.com.
Despite shifting his professional focus toward orchestral work ever since crossing the border, Ethan remains smitten with chamber music; some notable collaborators have included the Gryphon Trio and its individual members, the Penderecki and Zemlinsky Quartets, Marie Berard and Aaron Schwebel (concertmasters of the COC and NBoC Orchestras) and several members of the TSO and KWS, and music faculty members at Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Toronto.
Upcoming activities include coaching amateur chamber musicians at the 2019 Summer Solstice Music Workshop and Festival, where Ethan will also perform in the final Festival concert with members of the ESO along with special guests clarinetist James Campbell and violinist Mark Fewer. In August Ethan will join cellist Zuill Bailey and a few other renowned musicians for a brief string of summer chamber music festival concerts in El Paso, Texas, and then back in Edmonton in September he’ll be heard playing Schubert’s “Trout” quintet with ESO concertmaster Robert Uchida leading the ensemble for the Edmonton Recital Society’s 2019-20 series-opener.
Ethan is currently navigating a complicated move from Kitchener, Ontario (Canada) where he has been residing with his wife, oboist Elisabeth Mellinger, and their two children, to Edmonton, Alberta where they don’t yet have a place to live. Anybody know somebody in Edmonton going on sabbatical next season with a place to rent while they’re away?
with the Cypress String Quartet -
on AVIE RECORDS - www.avie-records.com
"Elena Ruehr: Six String Quartets"
"Brahms: String Sextets with Barry Shiffman and Zuill Bailey"
"Beethoven: The Early String Quartets" (Op.18 Nos.1-6)
"Beethoven: The Middle String Quartets" (Op.59 Nos.1-3, Op.74, Op.95)
"Beethoven: The Late String Quartets" (Opp.127, 130, 131, 132, 133, 135)
"Schubert: Quartettsatz and Cello Quintet with Gary Hoffman"
"Dvorak: Quartet Op.106 and Cypresses"
"The American Album" music by Dvorak, Barber, Griffes, and Kevin Puts
on Cypress Performing Arts Association
"How She Danced: String Quartets of Elena Ruehr" (String Quartets Nos.1, 3 & 4)
"The Fifteenth Anniversary Album" music by Debussy, Ravel, and Schulhoff
"Debussy, Suk, and Cotton"
"Haydn, Ravel, and Schulhoff"
"Benjamin Lees: String Quartets Nos. 1, 5 and 6"
"Jennifer Higdon: Piano Trio - Voices - Impressions"
on other labels
"Spectral Evidence" - music of Jay Cloidt
"Trilogy" - music of Daniel Asia
"Everyone Deserves Music" - Michael Franti & Spearhead
without the CSQ -
"Penetrations" - music of John Latartara on SACHIMAY
Additional Professional ExperienceS
Additional Professional ExperienceS
Magisterra Soloists, 2018+ Guest Artist
National Arts Centre Orchestra, 2017+ Viola Section Sub
National Ballet of Canada, 2017+ Viola Section Sub
Canadian Opera Company, 2017+ Viola Section Sub
Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra, 2017 Viola Section Sub
Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, 2017+ Viola Section Sub
Toronto Symphony Orchestra, 2016+ Viola Section Sub
Sitka Summer Music Festival, 2003,'12,'14,'16 Guest Artist
Primrose International Viola Competition & Festival, 2014 Guest Artist recital ("fluttertude" by Kurt Rohde) and Panel Discussion on Community Engagement
San Francisco Symphony, 2013 Viola Section sub
Lieder Alive! Concert Series, San Francisco, 2012 Guest artist
SJSU Faculty Recital, 2005 with Gwendolyn Mok, piano and Janet Averett, clarinet
California Summer Music Faculty Concert, 2004 Guest Artist
Sigma String Quartet, U.K., 1998-2000 Violist
Etive Ensemble, U.K., 1999-2000 Violist
Northern California Viola Society, 2008-13 President; Co-creator of ViolaMANIA, Young Violists Competition, Violas on a Roll workshops, and Tom Heimberg Viola Advocate Award
San Jose State University, 2003-09 CSQ as Quartet-in-Residence; Viola and Chamber Music Faculty; String Day chamber music workshop creator; Music & Conversation guest artist series and Adopt-a-School outreach program co-creator
Occasional Chamber Music Coaching for:
San Francisco Conservatory of Music; Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra; Summer Music West; Chamber Musicians of Northern California; SF Symphony Youth Orchestra Viola Section; Stanford Suzuki Chamber Music Workshop; California Summer Music; Sequoia Chamber Music Workshop
California Music Center, 2006-12 Irving M. Klein International String Competition Judge (occasional)
University of California at Davis, 2008 String Competition Judge
SF Friends of Chamber Music, 2013 Musical Grants Program Review Board
Session Work and other gigs for Studio Boomla, 2004; Last Tag Productions, 2013; Meyer Sound 2016; New Century Chamber Orchestra 2012
WIUS AM1570 Student Radio (IU-B), 1995-98 DJ/Radio Host
A lifelong amateur photographer, Ethan has developed a healthy portfolio of remarkable landscape, portrait, and candid photography. Browse this website's Gallery and/or contact Ethan at the address below to find out more. Eager to expand his experience as a photographer, Ethan gladly offers FREE portrait, headshot, or family photo sessions, or coverage for special events - just firstname.lastname@example.org.
All images on this website (except those of himself teaching or in performance) are original photos by Ethan Filner.
Candidate, Master of Music in Viola Performance*
PGDipMus: Post Graduate Diploma in Music Performance (Viola)
Bachelor of Music in Viola Performance
Minor in Telecommunications