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Colin’s Corner: Third Coasters

Welcome back to Colin’s Corner, where our resident superhero and studio manager Colin Campbell takes you into his world of incredible craftsmanship to show off some of the instruments and works of art he creates for Third Coast. Colin has recently created some beautiful one-of-a-kind pieces for Third Coast, and they aren’t just gorgeous and functional: they are also punny.

The “third coasters” were actually reverse-engineered from an atrocious pun. Well, a double pun really. Third Coast Percussion needed some special gifts to thank some of our generous donors for their continued support. And then, inspiration struck. Why not make some “third coasters” for Third Coast to say, “Thanks for being a Third-Coaster?” A double pun! The total eclipse of puns! Now that we had the wordplay, the rest was easy…

Like what you hear, too? Check out our newest album Paddle to the Seaavailable on Cedille Records.

Check back soon for another visit to Colin’s Corner! Word on the street is he’s restoring some wicked cool metal anklung right now…but not for us. Alas.

See you soon!

 

 

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Announcing our 2018/19 Emerging Composers Partnership Collaborators

Please join us in congratulating Amanda Feery and Hunter Ewen, the composers selected for our 2018/19 Emerging Composers Partnership! We look forward to collaborating with both Amanda and Hunter to create new works by each, which will be premiered next season. Read more about these outstanding music-makers below and click their names above to hear some of their music.

We received 135 applications this year, representing a dozen countries across five continents, and over half were from first time applicants!  The remarkable variety and depth of creativity displayed by all of the proposals was truly inspiring, and we have no doubt that adventurous music in our field is alive and well! Thank you to everyone who submitted music and ideas this year.

The deadline for the next round of submissions to the Emerging Composers Partnership (projects to be completed in the 2019/20 season) will be October 31, 2018. 

Amanda Feery is a composer writing for acoustic, electronic and improvisatory forces. Much of her inspiration comes from literature, visual art, and folklore. She has written for orchestral, chamber and vocal ensembles, theatre, kinetic sculpture, and multimedia.
She currently divides her time between Ireland and Princeton, where she is completing a Phd in Composition, with a dissertation focussing on Kate Bush’s song cycle, The Ninth Wave.
Collaborators include RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, Crash Ensemble, Chamber Choir Ireland, RTÉ ConTempo Quartet, Ensemble Mise-en, Dither, Bearthoven, Mivos Quartet, Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, This is How we Fly, Orkest de Ereprijs, Lisa Moore, Amanda Gookin, Michelle O’Rourke, and Paul Roe.
She has participated as a composer fellow at The Performance Corporation’s Space Program, Ostrava Days Festival, SOUNDscape Festival, Bang on a Can Summer Festival, and the International Young Composers Meeting.
Future projects include works for Alarm Will Sound, Chatham Saxophone Quartet, and Robinson Panoramic Quartet.

Hunter Ewen (b. 1984) is a dramatic composer, educator, and multimedia designer. During the day, Dr. Ewen teaches strategies for digital creativity and programs AI composition software for Amper Music. At night, he composes, solders, choreographs, and writes solo and collaborative projects around the world. His works rail against the faded borders that separate art from science, music from sound, and meaning from meaninglessness. Ewen values frenzy. He buzzes and sneaks and desperately loves. His work is soothing, startling, virtuosic, and absurd. It grooves with dense, layered textures. It lusts for yowls and yips and wails and squeals. For screams that masquerade as art. For clamor and deviance. His compositions swing from chandeliers.

Ewen’s work has garnered awards and performances from SEAMUS, Punto y Raya, Ouroboros Review, The Playground Ensemble, Manchester New Music, CSU Fullerton, New Horizons Festival, MOXsonic, New Music Gathering, EMM, MTNA, Electroacoustic Barn Dance, Gamma UT, Studio 300, and his graphic scores were featured prominently in the Pulitzer Prize nominated book Armor, Amour by Amy Pence. Ewen’s work has been performed across North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia by groups like the Beethoven Academy Orchestra, Cairo Symphony, Silesian Philharmonic, Greater Cleveland Flute Society, Science on a Sphere, Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance, Alarm Will Sound, and by distinguished performers like Greg Banaszak, Lina Bahn, and Bill Mooney. Ewen is published by Ken Dorn, Alphonse LeDuc, Music Minus One, and Theodore Presser.

Third Coast Percussion’s Emerging Composers Partnership is made possible by Louise K. Smith and the Sargent Family Foundation.

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Intern Spotlight: Casey Collins

Happy new year, everyone! We start the year with a third Intern Spotlight, this time featuring the amazing Casey Collins!

Where are you from?

Minneapolis, MN

What is one thing about yourself that you’d want everyone to know?

I love the triangle.

Give us a link to something about you.

Here is a video of a piece written by my good friend Zack Baltich. I had the pleasure of playing the killer vibes part.

What are you up to these days?

I work in the artistic department of the Minnesota Orchestra. I am also pursuing a Master in Arts Administration from the University of Kentucky.

When did you intern with TCP?

May – August 2013

How did you connect with TCP?

I actually had reached out to Fifth House Ensemble about an internship, and knowing I was a percussionist they suggested that I connect with TCP, so I did!

Did you gain anything from the internship that you’d like to share?

This was probably the most valuable experience I had during my undergrad. I learned a lot about what it takes to run a successful arts organization, especially the logistics planning.

What else did you do while interning with TCP?

My first day I was tasked with digitizing the music library, you don’t want to know how many hours that took over the summer…

Did you leave a legacy or mark on the organization that you’re particularly proud of?

Other than purchasing and helping install the biggest window A/C unit I’ve ever seen, I’m really proud of my work on the Emerging Composers Partnership. Sean and I worked the whole summer planning and drafting proposals for this fantastic project.

Favorite memory from the internship?

There are many, but probably my favorite was assisting in the recording of “Haunt of Last Nightfall” by David T. Little. Watching the recording process for this large piece was awesome, and the guys killed it!

A GIF or YouTube link that sums up your experience with TCP?

Balance!

If you were a cartoon character, who would you be?

I think being the cartoon version of David S. Pumpkins would be fun.

Can you share a funny or embarrassing story?

When assembling a marimba I put the accidental bars on the natural rails and started to put the naturals on when Rob said “I think we should switch those around”…must have been a long day!

 

As you can see, an internship with Third Coast Percussion is a great learning opportunity and a fun adventure. If you’re interesting in learning more about an internship with Third Coast, please contact Sean Connors at [email protected].

For now, we will take a little hiatus from Intern Spotlights. Thanks SO much to Bri, Casey, Cameron, and all the other incredible interns we have had over the past couple of years. Your work is so valuable, and our organization couldn’t function without your contributions. Stay tuned for another treasure from Colin’s Corner and more!

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Colin’s Corner: The Pak

Welcome to Colin’s Corner! In this series of blog posts, our resident superhero and studio manager Colin Campbell will take you into his world of incredible craftsmanship to show off some of the instruments and works of art he creates for Third Coast.


This summer, I was tasked with building/acquiring the special instruments required for Lou Harrison’s Concerto for Organ and Percussion Orchestra and Concerto for Violin and Percussion Orchestra.

The first instrument that I made for the Harrison concerti was the “Pak.”

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Harrison gives the following notes in the score:

Entity: Korean clacker
Material: Solid hardwood, about 3/8” thick. 6 slats, tapered.
Spacing: about 3/16”. 3 standard 3/8” cut washers will do.
Construction and operation: Tie the slats and spacer washers firmly together with rawhide or nylon cord. Grasp the end slats and pull the lower ends wide apart, so that all 6 slats should fan out evenly. Swing it together briskly.

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I chose to tackle the pak first because it seemed the simplest to construct. A Google image search turned up some useful pictures of traditional Korean examples. The only materials required were wood, cord, and washers. I made the pak from a single board of African mahogany. Mahogany is a prized hardwood for furniture, and has been used to make drum shells as well.

Making six identical pieces is easier said than done. The curved profile of all six slats needed to match exactly, and the holes for tying them together needed to be lined up. In traditional woodworking, I would have used a pattern flush-trim bit on a router, and trimmed the wood around the perimeter of a master template made from acrylic or MDF (medium-density fiberboard). But since I had recently acquired a CNC carving machine (Inventables X-Carve), I decided to create a digital template instead.

Luckily, Harrison gives dimensions for the slats in his sketch. Using a vector drawing program (Adobe Illustrator), I made a 2D drawing of the slat’s outline and two holes.

After a couple of test cuts, the CNC “computer numerical control” cutting went surprisingly smoothly. I crosscut each segment of the mahogany board to length, clamped it down to the machining bed, and the machine did the rest. I was able to produce six identical slats with relative speed and ease.

For most of my wood projects, especially pieces that are handled often, I prefer to sand down to 400-grit. It is only slightly more time-consuming, and I feel that the result is well worth it. Usually I don’t use stain, but in this case I wanted a rich, lustrous dark finish similar to the traditional Korean examples I had seen. I went with my favorite Java gel stain from General Finishes. Applied properly, it beautifully expresses the woodgrain, and adds a rich transparent color. Finally, I finished the slats with clear satin lacquer. This is the origin of the now world-famous phrase “put some lacquer on your clacker.”

I love learning to tie a new knot. There’s a unique satisfaction that comes from the first time you get it right. Come to think of it, the feeling is very similar to the first time one successfully pulls off a new sleight-of-hand move or drum rudiment. Luckily for me, there is a veritable army of 11-year-olds on YouTube who have mastered the art of paracord tying. I cannot stress what a valuable resource YouTube is for makers of any stripe. It is a wondrous and powerful tool for self-teaching. Although the decorative knots I used to make my pak are non-traditional, I think they still look attractive and appropriate for the application. Of course, I chose a “TCP Green” paracord. The two main knots used are the lanyard knot and cobra weave. Felt washers were used in between each slat as spacers.

That was about it for this one. I was, and still am, pretty happy with the end product. It sounds great– a loud, clear “C-C-C-C-CLACK!” If you don’t have access to mahogany, maple or ash would be a good substitute.

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Intern Spotlight: Cameron Leach

As we mentioned a few weeks ago, we have started an Intern Spotlight series. Our interns do amazing work, and we want to thank them for their incredible talent and tireless dedication. Next in the series is Cameron Leach, for whom major congratulations are in order: Cameron just won the Percussive Arts Society Solo Artist Competition! He documented his preparation for the PASIC competition with a series of Facebook videos; check them out for helpful hints and insight about competition prep. Congratulations, Cameron!

 

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Where are you from?

Hilliard, OH.

What is one thing about yourself that you’d want everyone to know?

I listen to Drake every morning to get me hyped up for the day. I’m sorry.

Give us a link to something about you.

cleachmusic.com – Website
@cleachmusic – Instagram
cleachmusic – Facebook
cameronleach – Youtube

What are you up to these days?

Right now I’m finishing my master’s degree at the Eastman School of Music. I’ll graduate in May 2018, then I’m moving back to Ohio to freelance and save money for large instrument purchases before moving elsewhere.

I’ve been really exploring what it means to self-promote, produce online content, and dig into the entrepreneurial side of the music business, and I’m looking forward to putting these skills to work once I get done with school.

When did you intern with TCP?

Summer 2017. I spent about 3.5 weeks with the group during their summer residency in South Bend, Indiana.

How did you connect with TCP?

Through the Arts Leadership Program at the Eastman School of Music. I also played JLA’s Inuksuit with them in Mishawaka, Indiana, during the summer of 2015, so the group was definitely on my radar for a long time. On top of that, my teacher and friend Ryan Kilgore had great (and funny) things to say about the guys from his time with some of them at Northwestern.

Did you gain anything from the internship that you’d like to share?

The internship really showed me what it means to run a successful chamber ensemble, in terms of both day-to-day tasks and long-term planning. I was astounded by the efficiency within the group, especially with how they delegated duties and roles to fit each member’s strengths. On top of that, the way they balanced individual practice, group rehearsals, and administrative work-time was really impressive.

What else did you do while interning with TCP besides work with the group?

Throughout my internship and the summer as a whole, I was busy constructing my website, press kit, Facebook artist page, business cards, etc., with Ali Prater, an incredible London-based designer. She brought to life my vision for a personal brand in terms of logo, feel, and aesthetic, and I couldn’t be more grateful. The time I spent with TCP was at the very end of this process (just before the launch), and they provided invaluable feedback and final revisions that helped shape the end result. The specific feedback I received were really parts of larger lessons that can be applied across the broad spectrum of the music business, so I really feel that it was a formative, albeit short, 24 days.

Did you leave a legacy or mark on the organization that you’re particularly proud of?

Hmm. I wish I had something a bit more profound, but unboxing drums and changing lots of drumheads counts, right?

Cameron Leave a mark 1     Cameron Leave a mark 2

Favorite memory from the internship?

“Hey Cameron, can you go pick up scuba tanks in Ann Arbor?”
“Hey Cameron, can you drive to Chicago right now?”

Kidding!

My favorite memory was when the guys took me out to the Crooked Ewe for my birthday!

A GIF or YouTube link that sums up your experience with TCP?

 

If you were a cartoon character, who would you be?

Timmy Turner from The Fairly Oddparents.

Funny / embarrassing story?

Singing karaoke with the gang in South Bend. (Rob had a good time, too.)

Rob had a good time, too.

 

As you can see, an internship with Third Coast Percussion is a great learning opportunity and a fun adventure. If you’re interesting in learning more about an internship with Third Coast, please contact Sean Connors at [email protected]. Keep checking back for more stories in our next Intern Spotlight, featuring Casey Collins!

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Intern Spotlight: Brianna Trainor

We’ve had some incredible interns join us at TCP over the years, and they often don’t get all the credit that they deserve for the hours and hours of work that they volunteer.  Over the next few months, we will put our former interns front and center for a much overdue round of applause in a series of Intern Spotlights.

First up, the extraordinary Brianna Trainor!

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Where are you from?

I grew up in Hudson, Wisconsin, and I completed my undergrad at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point.

When did you intern with TCP?

January through June of 2017

What is one thing about yourself that you’d want everyone to know?

I am a Björk fanatic.

Share a GIF or YouTube link that encapsulates your TCP experience!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leEyy3mT7KQ

If you were a cartoon character, who would you be?

I’ve been watching a LOT of Bob’s Burgers lately, so I’ll go with Gene Belcher for his unique sense of humor and musical hobbies.

How did you connect with TCP?

Sean was my studio teacher at UWSP for two years!

What are you up to these days?

I’m a graduate assistant at University of Missouri with the Mizzou New Music Ensemble!

Did you gain anything from the internship that you’d like to share?

Insight into the inner workings of a not-for-profit arts organization, particularly grant applications, logistics/operations, and collaboration between artists.

What else did you do while interning with TCP besides work with the group?

I was a member of Ayodele Drum & Dance, I took djembe lessons at The Stude Drum Class, and I worked at Tano’s Pizzeria.

Favorite memory from the internship?

A few: watching the run though of Glenn Kotche’s Wild Sound in the studio, performing Inuksuit in Arkansas, and watching TCP win the GRAMMY!

Funny / embarrassing story?

On my first day as an intern, I was given several printing tasks. I assumed that I was expected to print wireless from my laptop, which I had never done before. Even though all four ensemble members and Liz were in the office, I was too embarrassed to ask for help, so I frantically googled how to set it up and do it so I didn’t look ignorant. It took me half an hour but somehow I got the first document to print. When I walked across the room and picked up the papers, David said, “Did you just print wireless?” When I replied, “Yes, wasn’t I supposed to?” everyone’s heads whipped around astonished like I had just invented fire. Apparently I was the first person to ever do it! We spent the next 20 minutes setting it up on all of our laptops and celebrating by wireless printing random documents because we could. Everyone else was laughing from excitement about being able to take this new step into the future and never have to stand up to print anything anymore. I was laughing from the sheer relief that I hadn’t made myself look stupid on my first day of work. Good first impression: check.

Do you have a legacy / mark that you left with TCP, something of which you’re particularly proud?

Laying the foundation and setting the standard for the Office Assistant staff position.

Sean says:

Bri spent literally days of her life editing, scanning, and copying music for the US Premiere of Marta Ptaszynska’s Voice of the Winds, which was brought to life by 100 percussionists spread all over the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Click here to see a snippet of the project that would not have happened without Bri’s blood, sweat, and tears.

As you can see, an internship with Third Coast Percussion is a great learning opportunity and a fun adventure. If you’re interesting in learning more about an internship with Third Coast, please contact Sean Connors at: [email protected]. Keep checking back for more stories in our next Intern Spotlight, featuring Cameron Leach!

But before that, we’ll take you to Colin’s Corner to learn about the instruments and artwork that our brilliant Studio Manager, Colin Campbell, has been building for us. Here’s a sneak peek of his “Third Coasters”: putting the “fun” in “functional”!

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Our first Grammy Award!

We are honored and humbled to have won this year’s Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music/ Small Ensemble Performance, for our album Third Coast Percussion | Steve Reich, released on Cedille Records.

This is our first Grammy win, and it was our first nomination. This is also the first time a percussion ensemble has won a Grammy in a Chamber Music category. Our crazy art form has come a long way, and we’re so thankful to our colleagues in the percussion field, our teachers, and all of the great percussion ensembles that have come before us for elevating this music that we love so much.

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We also had the incredible honor of sharing the stage with saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, who performed with us on the third movement Steve Reich’s Mallet Quartet at the live Grammy pre-telecast performance. It was an unforgettable experience to perform with this exceptional musician.

Click here or on the image below to watch the video of the performance.

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Ravi is not only a phenomenal musician, he is a humble, down-to-earth guy who was an absolute pleasure to work with and hang with.

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We were fortunate to have our partners, family, our intrepid Managing Director, Liz, and some of our fantastic board of directors with us in L.A. for the festivities. We wouldn’t be where we are without them…plus they look good, don’t they?

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We also want to thank the incredible team that put this album together: producer, editor, mix, and master by Jesse Lewis, engineer Dan Nichols, assistant engineer Matt Ponio, and additional mastering by Kyle Pyke. Our amazing guest pianists David Friend and Oliver Hagen joined us on Sextet, and our mentor and friend Matthew Duvall joined us on Music for Pieces of Wood. Cedille Records was an absolute pleasure to work with throughout the project. The album was recorded at the University of Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, our home-away-from-home. Our managing director, Liz Pesnel, put forth an incredible effort towards this whole project, THANK YOU LIZ! And we also want to shout out our friends and neighbors Sonnenzimmer for the incredible album artwork.

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Oh yeah and it turns out we weren’t the only Chicago musicians at the Grammys.

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Announcing our 2017/18 Emerging Composers Partnership Collaborators

Please join us in congratulating Ayanna Woods and Timothy Page, the two composers selected for our 2017/18 Emerging Composers Partnership! We will be collaborating with both Ayanna and Timothy to create new works by each, which will premiere next season. Read more about these incredible music makers below, and click their names above to hear some of their music.

We received 190 applications for the partnership this year, more than twice the number we received last year! Applications were sent from over a dozen countries on 5 continents. We were all blown away by the sheer quantity of excellent music that is being created today. Thank you to everyone who submitted their music and ideas this year.

The deadline for submissions to the next round of the program (projects to be completed in the 2018/19 season) will be October 31, 2017.

Ayanna Woods

Ayanna Woods is a composer, singer and multi-instrumentalist from Chicago, IL. She recently earned her BA in music at Yale University, where she studied composition with Andy Akiho, Kathryn Alexander and Konrad Kaczmarek. Woods’ pieces have been performed by the Wet Ink Ensemble, the Chicago Children’s Choir, and the Nightingale Trio (a Balkan singing group), among others. Her music explores the spaces between acoustic and electronic, traditional and esoteric, wildly improvisational and mathematically rigorous. Currently, Woods is writing works on the theme of peace for the Chicago Children’s Choir and its alumni, and scoring a short film.

Timothy Page

Chicago-born composer, musician, and performance artist Timothy Page creates works that revolve around play with style and context, body, physical materials, and space. After a brief career in physics, Page left the U.S. for Finland to study composition with Veli-Matti Puumala at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. He wound up putting down roots for nearly a decade, establishing himself in the Nordic contemporary music scene with performances and commissions throughout Scandinavia and Europe. He has worked with many of the leading Nordic ensembles and represented Finland around the world in festivals such as Nordic Music Days, ISCM, NYCEMF, ICMC, June in Buffalo, and Ostrava Days. In 2013 he returned to Chicago to pursue a PhD program in composition at University of Chicago, where he has studied with Augusta Read Thomas and Anthony Cheung. His work has recently taken a performative turn – but even at its most theatrical, it is typified by a primacy of sound and a preoccupation with rhythm.

Third Coast Percussion’s Emerging Composers Partnership is made possible by generous underwriting provided by Louise K. Smith, Cindy Sargent, and the Sargent Family Foundation.

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Photos from our Europe Tour

Here’s a bunch of pictures from our recent tour in Poland and the Netherlands.

Wroclaw, Poland

Nice to feel welcomed!

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The National Forum of Music, Wroclaw

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wroclaw family show

Family show. These kids are super-impressed that we can (sort of) count to 5 in Polish.

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Wild Sound! foto © Bogusław Beszłej/Archiwum NFM

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foto © Bogusław Beszłej/Archiwum NFM

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foto © Bogusław Beszłej/Archiwum NFM

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Packed house! foto © Bogusław Beszłej/Archiwum NFM

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We’ll autograph anything!

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These little guys are all around the city.

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Khinkali are the soup dumplings of eastern Europe.

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Paczkis are for real!

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Rotterdam, Netherlands

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Good sign- this is the first thing we see when we exit the train station!

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De Doelen at night

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Sound check

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They call it the “Red Sofa Series.”

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Kapsalon was the stage crew’s recommendation for post-concert food. It’s Schwarma over french fries. Luckily there’s that lettuce on top.

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Rotterdam has some amazing architecture…

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including these crazy cube apartments,

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which you can take a tour of,

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and all sorts of great art,

 

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like these clowns at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.

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This one speaks for itself.

Market

The massive Market Hall is also pretty amazing.

 

Cross-Linx Festival: Eindhoven, Amsterdam, Rotterdam (again), Groningen

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We’re in the first line of fine print. First line!

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NWA

Again, speaks for itself.

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Killer venue in Amsterdam!

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Awesome to see Andrew Bird play live, along with the rest of a great festival line up!

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You haven’t lived until you’ve eaten some sort of hot breaded thing from a vending wall.

Glenn Groningen

Glenn Kotche during our set in Groningen. foto © Knelis

Groningen show

Serious lighting for our show. foto © Knelis

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TCP10: Game-changing Moments

Third Coast Percussion’s growth over the last 10 years has been pretty organic, but there have been a few landmark moments along the way when things really jumped up a notch. This month, we’re taking a look back at those big moments in TCP history.

Fall 2005: TCP has its first meeting with Augusta Read Thomas, to talk about how to go about commissioning composers. The group was just getting started, and we knew we wanted to get composers to write new works for us, but had no idea how to go about making that happen. We knew Augusta from Northwestern– she was on the composition faculty while we were all students there– and she was kind enough to meet with us to talk about the commissioning process. She asked us “are you guys a 501(c)3?” and we said “what’s that?”. We learned a whole lot that day, including how we would need to fundraise to support major commissioning projects. She also gave us some ideas of how to commission some younger composers in the mean time, which helped us launch our first commissioning project. The conversation went well beyond just commissioning, and helped us begin to understand what it would take to be a successful chamber ensemble. We had no idea at that time what an important collaborator, advocate, and friend Augusta would be for years to come!

February 2006: TCP plays a show at the Neo-futurarium Theater in Chicago. This was the first show where we really thought about the total concert experience, beyond the repertoire and performance. We thought about the stage set-up, lighting, and how to go seamlessly from piece to piece without moving instruments. It was a really positive performance experience for us, and we also learned some important lessons, like: you need liability insurance to self-present in a rented theater, and percussion quartets should try to avoid performing in second floor venues with no elevator.

Summer/Fall 2006: TCP gets its first professional recording, press kit, website and logo. A fellow NU alum named Ethelbert Williams saw some of our early shows, and was excited about what we were doing artistically, but thought we could use some help on the marketing and PR side of things. He graciously offered to help out, connecting us with a graphic designer and photographer, and helping us organize everything we needed to present a professional face to presenters, venues, and the press. Ethelbert is still on Third Coast Percussion’s board of directors today, and has continued to be a great advocate and supporter of our organization. These couple of months yielded our first EP recording, Ritual Music, professional press photos and press kit, an awesome website, and of course, our first logo:

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TCP logo circa 2006

July 2007: TCP’s first performance at Rush Hour Concerts. This was the first concert we were actually hired to play, rather than self-presenting or performing pro bono. It was also the beginning of another very important long-term working relationship. TCP has performed on Rush Hour Concerts every summer since– we premiered a new work by our own David Skidmore on the season finale of Rush Hour’s 10th Anniversary Season (commissioned for the occasion)– and the two organizations have collaborated on a number of important community engagement and youth education programs in Chicago over the years.

Winter 2009: TCP’s first real tour. After a few quick run-outs here and there, this was our first substantial time on the road. We toured around the Midwest for about 10 days, performing at University of Illinois, Southeast Missouri State, University of Kentucky, and Tennessee Tech, then headed down to Texas for about 2 weeks, performing at a number of Universities and the Round Top Percussion Festival. We were all paying our bills with other teaching and performance work at this point, so it was a big deal to 1. figure out how to leave town for most of a month; and 2. actually generate some income from TCP (along with some expenses). It’s worth noting that this tour depended heavily on family and friends who put us up, and the enthusiasm of percussion professors who were willing to take a chance on a little-known quartet from Chicago.

TCP at Southeast Missouri State, February 2009

August 2009: TCP gets its first grant! We had finally become a 501(c)3 earlier that year, and we had begun renting a studio space in Chicago’s North Center neighborhood in 2008, both of which were game-changers in their own right. This first grant we received, from the MacArthur Funds for Arts and Culture at the Richard H Driehaus Foundation, changed things in a very tangible way. For the previous year, the members of TCP had paid the rent on the studio space out of our own pockets. The Driehaus grant provided enough funding to pay the rent on the space, marking the moment when the four of us got to stop paying to be in Third Coast Percussion. The MacArthur and Driehaus foundations are still very important pillars of support for TCP to this day, along with a number of other generous foundations and individuals you can read about here.

Summer 2011: Samir Mayekar returns to Chicago and becomes the chair of TCP’s board of directors. Like all non-profit organizations, Third Coast Percussion has a board of directors. Samir was one of our first board members when we incorporated, and when he returned to Chicago, to pursue an MBA at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Business, it transformed the role that TCP’s board played. The board became much more independent, providing greater accountability for the four of us performers who were running the organization, and pressing us to make plans for where we wanted to be 5 years down the road. The board also began growing, as Samir and other board members actively recruited and networked to find other individuals who would be excited to join the team. Samir’s energy and dedication have set the tone for our amazing board of directors, which is now comprised of 13 people, including one ensemble representative. The enthusiasm of these individuals, who volunteer their time and support TCP financially, has been crucial to getting our organization to where it is today.

Fall 2012: Third Coast Percussion premieres Augusta Read Thomas’s Resounding Earth at the University of Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. Augusta had been a great friend and advocate of our ensemble since the beginning, and she approached us with an idea for a large scale work scored entirely for different kinds of bells, a sound that has been central to her work for many years. This piece marked a number of firsts for TCP: it was our first commissioned work by a world-renowned composer, our first performance at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, where we later established a residency position, the first work that required us to build an entirely new instrument inventory, our first fully-collaborative commissioning process, and our first major individual giving campaign, “Adopt a Bell,” in which many generous individuals made donations to support this project. Since the premiere, we’ve performed the full work about 2 dozen times across America and in Germany, performed extracted movements of the work over 100 times, recorded a CD/DVD of the work, and created a free iPhone app that allows the user to play the many different bells used in this piece and learn more about their origins.

TCP premieres Resounding Earth, September 2012

Summer 2013: TCP begins its Notre Dame residency and goes full-time! We had been pushing for many years to get to the point where Third Coast Percussion could become a full-time job for all four of us. Increased support from foundations and individuals, and a more rigorous touring schedule helped to make it possible, but beginning our position as Ensemble-in-Residence at the University of Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center put it over the top, and convinced us that it was possible to resign from our other professional obligations as teachers and performers- which we also loved- in order to make TCP our full-time pursuit. Being able to dedicate all of our time to TCP helped things to take off from there! We’re now in the third season of our position at Notre Dame, and it’s been incredibly rewarding on many levels.

Winter 2015: TCP hires its first non-performing administrator, Liz Pesnel. After achieving the dream of working full-time for TCP, our next dream was to have extra help with the administrative work, so we would all have more time to dedicate to the artistic side of things. We were incredibly fortunate that our first administrative hire was someone so capable and hard working. Liz came on board in February 2015 as a part-time Office Manager, and jumped up to being our full-time Managing Director in summer 2015. Many of TCP’s big projects in the past year- including In C Chicago, Inuksuit at Notre Dame, and our upcoming European tour– would not have been possible without having Liz on our team!

More game changing moments to come! There are many more exciting things in TCP’s future; the organization will continue to grow and we will continue to push the bounds artistically. Many of the major landmarks above were empowered by generous individuals and foundations; this kind of support made the difference between the four of us paying to be in TCP or starting get paid to do the work that we do, the difference between TCP being a part-time project or a full-time career, and the difference between the four of us being the only employees of TCP or adding a staff position. Each of these steps has, in turn, allowed TCP to pursue a more rigorous performance schedule, and more ambitious artistic and educational projects. Click here to support TCP’s continued growth by making a tax-deductible gift this holiday season.

 

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