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Detailed Program Notes for “Currents 2019”: Give Us the Night – Amanda Feery

Amanda’s  Website:  https://www.amanda-feery.com/

Listen to some of her music:

“Pushing Air” – her epic orchestral work

Square Pushers” – vocal quintet for written our pals Quince

Amanda Feery is an Irish composer working with acoustic, electronic, and improvised music. Much of her inspiration comes from literature, folklore, and the natural world. Collaborators include Alarm Will Sound, the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, Amatis Trio, Crash Ensemble, Ensemble Mise-en, Bearthoven, RTÉ ConTempo Quartet, Chamber Choir Ireland, Mivos Quartet, Dither, Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, Orkest de Eriprijs, This is How We Fly, Lisa Moore, Michelle O’Rourke, and Paul Roe. Future projects include works for flautist Lina Andonovska, {Trés}, and a collaboration with Irish filmmaker Tadhg O’Sullivan, on a cinematic ode to the moon. She recently completed her doctorate at Princeton University, and now resides in Dublin.

 

Give Us the Night was written for Third Coast Percussion’s Emerging Composers Partnership program. So far, Amanda has traveled the farthest to take part in our partnership, coming all the way from Dublin to workshop ideas with us in our Chicago studio.  Here we are having way too much fun picking out small quirky sounds for what would eventually become Peter’s part:

 

When Amanda first shared some of the ideas for her piece that she wanted to try out with us, she described the experience of walking down a street at night and hearing the muted music of a party going on inside a house or a bar in the distance.  Suddenly, the door swings open as someone enters or exits and you get a brief window into the musical world that otherwise seemed veiled and impenetrable.  We experimented with all sorts of things to try to achieve this effect, including covering drums with towels and then suddenly removing them to change from a muted sound to something more present.

Amanda’s thoughts on the work:

“I imagined Give Us The Night as a short film. We come upon the exterior of an abandoned space where faint remnants of disco patterns begin to filter through. Muddy kicks and corroded bells covered in webs eventually come into focus, and it is revealed that this supposedly abandoned space is teeming with revellers. The inspiration for the piece comes from exploring abandoned nightclub spaces on a U.S. road-trip. I was fascinated by the atmosphere of these spaces. They go beyond existing as a physical space; their walls have stories to tell.

“The piece particularly explores patterns, timbres, and harmonies from early house music, a style that has its origins in Chicago and Detroit. What interests me most about these now defunct spaces, is that they were some of the most inclusive, non-segregated, LGBTQ+-friendly spaces in the U.S. We are losing this in our current underground night-spaces—losing ways of listening and moving, losing a feeling of community in order for these spaces to be replaced by coffee chains, unaffordable apartments, and luxury hotels.”

 

Special thanks to Culture Ireland for their generous support of this project!

 

 

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Detailed Program Notes for “Currents 2019”: Half Light – Taylor Rankin

Check out Half Light by Taylor Rankin performed by the composer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-SWhsOgaiQ

Listen to more of Taylor’s music here: 

http://www.taylorjoshuarankin.com/listen

http://www.taylorjoshuarankin.com/composer-bioworks

Some thoughts about Half Light:

Third Coast got to know composer Taylor Joshua Rankin through Denison University’s TUTTI Festival hosted by our friend Ching-chu Hu, an incredibly unique new music festival in which absolutely ever single composer who has a work on the festival attends and the Denison students performing most of the works have the incredible opportunity of interacting in person with the composer of each piece they are playing. Taylor’s piece Half Light was selected through a very competitive call-for-scores process for TCP to perform on the festival. We became both giant fans Denison, Ching-chu, and Taylor in the same week 🙂 

Taylor is a young, dynamic artist whose work is influenced by American and European minimalism, art-rock, and electronic. Commended by Grammy-award winning Bay Area composer Mason Bates for having “a great ear harmony and texture”, he stands out as an exceptional artist of his craft.  His work has been played by many groups including Friction Quartet, Redshift Ensemble, and the NYU Marimba Ensemble. 

The term minimalist often refers to anything that has been reduced to its essentials. Combined with the artistic compositional techniques of art-rock and the tools of electronic music, Taylor has forged a distinct sound for his work. Aspects of his compositional works like instrumentation and harmonic detail reflect the features of these artistic movements.

Half Light features an extensive use of electronics and sampled sounds. Various samples including the buzzing of cicadas, the sound of rain falling, and differently tuned harmonicas create a sense of immersion into the unique character of the piece. Taylor recommends listening while driving fast or while walking down a wooded trail.  TCP recommends coming to our Currents show on Sunday to hear us open the concert with this jam! 

 

Notes by TCP intern Thomas Levine, June 2019

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Announcing our 2019/20 Emerging Composers Partnership collaborators!

Please join us in congratulating Robyn Jacob and Andys Skordis, the composers selected for our 2019/20 Emerging Composers Partnership! We look forward to collaborating with both Robyn and Andys 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 109 applications this year! 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.

Applications for the next round of submissions to the Emerging Composers Partnership (projects to be completed in the 2020/21 season) will open on August 1 and will close on October 31, 2019. 

Robyn Jacob is a pianist, singer, composer and educator who lives and works on the unceded territories of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh Nations (Vancouver BC). She has been striving for beauty that defies category in Canada and internationally with her avant-pop project Only A Visitor, who released their second full length album Technicolour Education in early 2019. Committed to writing and performing avant-garde music, recent composition projects explore writing for voice and small ensemble, and balancing between the pop and new music realms. As a music educator she believes in discovery through teaching, and learning through discovery, and has taught youth workshops on free improvisation and deep listening.

Since 2012 she has been part of the multi-disciplinary arts collective Publik Secrets, currently artists in residence at the Hadden Park Field House with the City of Vancouver. In 2013 she toured Bali with Gamelan Gita Asmara, and has since been co-directing Gamelan Bike Bike. For four years she was host of The Rib on CiTR 101.9FM, a show dedicated to the dissemination of local experimental musical talent. Robyn has received a Bachelor’s degree in Music from the University of British Columbia, and has completed three residencies at the Banff Centre for the Arts. She has been teaching music and piano privately for over 10 years.

Andys Skordis is a Cypriot composer, born in Nicosia in 1983. He graduated from Berklee College of Music where he studied composition and film scoring, and pursued his post-graduate studies in composition with Richard Ayres and Wim Henderickx at the Conservatorium Van Amsterdam. Additionally, he studied Karnatic music with Dr. Rafael Reina and Balinese Gamelan at ISI Denpasar in Bali.

As a composer he finds inspiration in the primordial human nature, which is reflected through a contemporary methodology in his compositions. His recent works find stimulation from ceremonial and mystical happenings from around the world. These incentives are expressed as a representation of a contemporary ritual characterised by tension and mysticism in his music.

Andys has composed music ranging from opera, orchestral and chamber pieces, vocal works, Gamelan, as well as music for theatre, dance and short films. His music has been performed by professional ensembles and amateur groups worldwide, in concert halls and unconventional spaces like quarries, abandoned buildings, temples, floating stages, and so on. Additionally, he has been awarded with various prizes including the Buma Toonzetters Prize, one of the highest composition prizes in The Netherlands, and more.

Besides composing, he is currently teaching Contemporary Music through non Western techniques at the Conservatorium Van Amsterdam, as well as other foundations in Europe, Asia and America. Additionally, he is the artistic director of the ensemble Patsiaoura, the music curator for Xarkis Festival and Artists Residency, a founding member of the improvisational ensemble The Brain Masturbation, and a professional collaborator with the Greek National Opera, and is involved in interdisciplinary projects and educational workshops.

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: Charlie Mogen

It’s time for the final Intern Spotlight of 2018, featuring Charlie Mogen! Charlie worked for us in the summer of 2016, and he is now the interim professor of percussion at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, SD. Charlie is also an intern with St. Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music Series, where we will be performing on Sunday, December 9, featuring music written for us by Philip Glass and Devonté Hynes (aka Blood Orange). We’ve loved working with him again in preparation for our show. Find out more and get tickets here! Thanks for all your work, Charlie, and we’ll see you soon!

ABOUT YOU

Where are you from?

Sioux Falls, SD

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

I’m generally a very easygoing person but will physically fight anybody who doesn’t think a hot dog is a sandwich.

A link to something about you (website, video, post, etc.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qTJW5Ethdo&t

This project is a few years old, but I’m still proud of how the lighting/multi-angle cameras worked out. Really dig a nice multi-media production!

What are you up to these days?

I’m the interim professor of percussion at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, working for Kate Nordstrum and the SPCO’s Liquid Music Series in St. Paul, MN, and slinging coffee on the weekends. Trying to figure out my next step but feeling good about my passions and prospects!

ABOUT THE INTERNSHIP

When did you intern with TCP?

Summer 2016

How did you connect with TCP?

I had the opportunity to work with Mathew Duvall (8BB’s percussionist) the summer before at Chosen Vale, we hit it off, and I asked him about any ways to intern for/get involved with the group. I was fortunate enough to get an internship with them that also included working with TCP– the rest is history.

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

I was extremely impressed with how organized the “business” aspect of the group was; no group member ever hesitated to do the nitty-gritty work necessary for a well-oiled musical machine.

What else did you do while you were interning?

Other than the work with Eighth Blackbird and a single (glorious, hi Ben!) day working with Ensemble Dal Niente, I spent a good chunk of time practicing (I’m also a percussionist), got to see a few shows (Florence and My Brightest Diamond were highlights), had the opportunity to premiere a Brian Chase piece with Make Music Chicago, and ate my fair share of tacos (I lived around the block from a late-night shop in Pilsen).

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

My summer with the group marked an early step the Grammy nomination process, so I like to tell my friends (facetiously, of course) that I had a direct hand in TCP winning the award the following spring.

Favorite memory?

A board member hosted a shindig in her beautiful Arts District apartment after a concert one summer evening. Great food, wine, and conversation were had.

SILLY THINGS

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

https://i.imgur.com/40IkkYH.gifv

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

Probably Patrick from Spongebob Squarepants

A funny or embarrassing story from the internship?

My fellow intern (Michael Goodman) and I were tasked with putting together “scratch pads” for an Emerging Composer event with Danny Clay and we somehow managed to approach it as inefficiently as possible. I think we spent three or four hours trekking around town buying sandpaper, plastic cups, tongue depressors, etc for what amounted to an arts and crafts project. Why we didn’t just go to the nearest big-box store I have no idea.


You can intern for Third Coast Percussion any time of year! For more information about internships, contact Sean Connors: [email protected]. Happy holidays, everyone!

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Intern Spotlight: Andrew Bockman

Welcome back to our Intern Spotlight series! Today, we shine the light on another of our summer 2018 interns, Andrew Bockman. We were lucky to snag Andrew in between his two years at the Eastman School of Music, where he’s now wrapping up a Master’s degree in Percussion Performance. Thank you so much for all your hard work, Andrew, and best wishes for finishing school!


Where are you from?

Tampa, FL

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

Outside of classical music I’m a huge fan of Fleet Foxes. I also like sleeping and turtles.

Give us a link to something about you.

Here’s a video of me performing a timpani solo I composed for my jury in the spring of 2018. It was written as a sort of “requiem” for the passing of David Maslanka, and is available from me if you’re interested!

What are you up to these days?

I’m just starting the final year of my Master’s degree in percussion at Eastman!

 

When did you intern with TCP?

Throughout the month of July, in the summer of 2018.

How did you connect with TCP?

I discovered this internship through the Arts Leadership Certificate Program at Eastman, which is an awesome program that gives students the opportunity to work with a variety of organizations and ensembles like Third Coast.

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

I learned a ton from simply being around everyone in the office and studio, particularly what goes into both performing in and running a full-time professional chamber group.  The administrative work that was required on a daily basis was staggering, and everyone was very organized in how they delineated and completed tasks. I also had the opportunity to sit down with members of the group over lunch and talk about everything they do, which was truly invaluable.

What else did you do while interning with TCP?

Since this was my first time in Chicago I took advantage of the city by visiting the Art Institute, going to a Cubs game, seeing the Chicago Symphony three times, and eating a lot of deep dish pizza.

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

Not that I’m aware of, other than a handful of bowed vibraphone notes that might make it onto a recording.

Favorite memory from the internship?

The group held an “intern appreciation night” where they took us out for food and drinks, which was a ton of fun and a very nice thing for them to do.

 

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

A combination of Scooby Doo and Winnie the Pooh

A funny or embarrassing story from the internship? 

After setting up for TCP’s outdoor show at Wrigley Field I went to grab tacos for the ensemble and Colin. Immediately upon returning it started to pour, so I ran to deliver the tacos to safety and then ran back out to help cover the stage, microphones, and wireless packs dispersed around the field. It was a complete mess but fortunately all of the electronics, instruments, and tacos were safe, and the show went on.

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

 


You can intern with Third Coast at any time of year! If you’re interesting in learning more about an internship with Third Coast, please contact Sean Connors at [email protected].

 

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Colin’s Corner: Wood Slats

Welcome back to Colin’s Corner, where we can all learn secrets and tricks from our studio manager and resident superhero, Colin Campbell. In this post, Colin explains his process for making wood slats, a very common percussion instrument that takes a bit of care in order to sound great. So many of us settle for mediocre woodslats, but with a little time and care, you can have beautiful, pitched wood slats that will last you for years (unless you play Music for Pieces of Wood 10 times a day for a while). Here are Colin’s tips. 

What kind of wood?

All of Third Coast’s wood slats are made from red oak, which is more economical and sustainable than many hardwoods, and widely available.

What size?

See the table below. (The dashes mean that TCP hasn’t made a slat that size…yet!)

I’m in Home Depot. HELP!

When choosing the size of plank to buy, YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Boards in hardware stores are labeled by ‘nominal’ dimensions, which means that the actual measurement of the wood will be slightly smaller than listed.

–The boards that I buy for pitched slats are 1” nominal thickness, and either 4” or 6” nominal width. This actually translates to a ¾” thick board with an actual width of about 3 ½” or 5 ½”.

There are so many planks…

I like to buy my boards in lengths between 3’ and 6.’

Hold each board by its edges and tap on its face. Even at this stage, the wood should have a clear and resonant tone when struck. Be careful not to buy any boards which sound “dead,” as this is most likely a result of internal defects in the wood’s structure.

Try to buy boards which are as flat and straight as possible. Setting a board flat on the floor will give you an idea if it is bowed, twisted/ warped, and/ or cupped.

How do I cut it, and what do I cut it with?

All of the saw cuts will be “cross-cuts,” meaning we will cut perpendicular to the long grain of the wood.

There are many techniques for cross-cutting wood. The one use will depend on your access to the particular tools. My personal choice is a compound miter saw/chop saw. I can make cuts precise, clean, and quick. BUT around the studio, I don’t have a compound miter saw, so I usually use a jigsaw.

We are only cutting the board to length — we are not making any additional cuts to tune the note harmonically, as would be the case with a wooden marimba or xylophone bar. This means that a particular slat might have a fundamental pitch, as well as an unwanted harmonic (say, a Major 2nd, for example) that is nearly as audible as the fundamental itself.

Make your first cut a couple inches longer than the listed dimension. Your first cut should give you a slightly lower pitch than the intended target. Now, make a series of smaller and smaller cuts to “sneak up” to the final pitch.

Listen carefully as you go, and compare your note with a pitched instrument like a marimba or piano. Strike different areas of the board to find a “sweet spot” where the fundamental pitch speaks most clearly. Once you have the board cut to length, circle the “sweet spot” with a marker or pencil.

Tell me more!

I’m still playing with the widths, but generally I like to use the 6” wide boards for everything Middle C and below, and switch over to the 4” wide boards above Middle C.

But remember: the measurements given are only a guide. There will be natural variability in the wood from board to board.

When cutting multiple pitches, always start with the lowest note/ longest board. That way, when (not “if”) you cut off too much and overshoot the pitch, you’ll still be able to use the board to make a higher note.

Finally, as I mentioned, the measurements are a guide. Remember to leave extra room and sneak up to the correct pitch, rather than cutting the board too short on your first cut.

Good luck!

Pitch Octave 3 length Octave 4 length
C 23 1/16″
C# 23 1/16″
D 22 1/2″
D# 21 9/16″
E 19 1/16″ (4″, W)
F 20 3/4
F# 28 1/4″ 21 3/8, 19 3/8 (4″, W)
G 26 1/2″ 18 11/16 (4″, W)
G# 26 7/8″ 18 7/16
A 24 11/16″ 17 7/8″ (4″, W)
A# 24 13/16″ 18 5/16″
B 23 1/2″ 16 13/16″ ; 16 5/8″

 

Pitch Octave 5 length Octave 6 length Octave 7 length
C 16″ ; 15 1/2″ 11 1/8″ 8 3/8″
C# 15 1/2″ ; 16 1/8″ 11 1/2″ ; 12″ ; 10 7/8″ ; 12″ ; 7 3/4″
D 16 1/4″ ; 16″; 14 3/4″ ; 15 1/2″ 11 3/4″ ; 11″
D# 15 7/16″ 11 1/2″
E 15″ ; 13 7/8″ ; 15″ 10 13/16″
F 14 5/8″ ; 14 3/4″ 9 3/4″ ; 10 11/16
F# 13 1/2″ 9 1/2″
G 13 9/16″ 9″
G# 13 3/8″ 8 1/2″
A 13 3/8″ ; 13 11/16″ 8 3/8″
A# 13 3/8″ ; 13 11/16″ 8 1/14″
B 12 3/4″ 7 13/16″
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Intern Spotlight: Noel Holloway

It’s time for another Intern Spotlight! This week, we are featuring Noel Holloway. Noel interned with us for several weeks this summer. Thanks for everything, Noel, and best wishes for your final year at Eastman!

Where are you from?

Albany, NY. Going into my senior year at Eastman.

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

I have 2 dog children (Moby and Pepper). I also have 2 cat children (Bandit and Martini). I am also gay, which is fun.

Give us a link to something about you.

This is a video of me that I sent in to qualify for the Taiwan International Percussion Convention: Marimba Solo section. I was 1 of 4 Americans who qualified for this out of 50 participants, aged 17-29. I’ve improved a lot since then with those pieces, but I am really proud that I was able to do all of this music in one take. I was halfway through my sophomore year at Eastman when I recorded this.

What are you up to these days?

Currently focusing on a healthy mindset associated with my own music. I used to have a unhealthy competitiveness vibe with myself and got pretty burned out from that, so this summer I have been working on just focusing on the passion I have to music and being comfortable with where I’m at as opposed to compared to others.

Once I return to school, I will be preparing for my senior recital and grad school auditions! I’m going to apply to Northwestern, Miami, Yale, and MSM.

ABOUT THE INTERNSHIP

When did you intern with TCP?

June 5 – July 13, 2018.

How did you connect with TCP?

I met Dave when he came to Eastman for an ALP (Arts Leadership Program) talk and reached out to him and then Sean.

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

Learning what the day-to-day workflow of an ensemble like this entails. It was super cool to learn about the balance between “normal desk work” and rehearsing was for them. Also talking with the guys about finding donors, booking, grant writing, and a general difference between their non-musical and musical work was really cool to learn about.

What else did you do while interning with TCP?

I worked with the studio manager Colin a lot on different studio projects and took inventory of their studio. I did a lot of things here and there helping out TCP in general.

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

Besides helping out with their inventory and helping out with various projects here and there, I do not think I did anything monumental to “leave a mark” on the group, but I definitely think I made an impression with all of the people in TCP and a lasting connection/ friendship there.

Favorite memory from the internship?

Favorite memory would be driving to Notre Dame with Colin; it was a great time and was really exciting to help set up and move all the gear for their residency. Helping out at their Constellation show was also really cool.

SILLY THINGS

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

Couldn’t really find one, but this is a great video.

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

Him, from the Powerpuff Girls

A funny or embarrassing story from the internship? 

I was helping out with their show at Constellation, and was supposed to add more chairs in between to the audience since they were so full. I had never done anything like that before, so me and the other intern basically just clumped a bunch of chairs awkwardly in one of the aisles and only 2 people sat down (even though there were 10 chairs) because they were so awkwardly placed. Apparently we also blocked the exit which made the manager then had to fix since it was against fire code.


If you’re interesting in learning more about an internship with Third Coast, please contact Sean Connors at [email protected]. AND…..

Percussionists and wood-slat players of all ages: be on the lookout for our next visit to Colin’s Corner, when Colin will reveal the secrets of TCP’s wood slat collection!

 

 

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Intern Spotlight: Henrique Batista

Hi everyone! We hope you are all enjoying the last bits of summer. It’s been a while, but we are happy to return to our Intern Spotlight series, this time with the wonderful Henrique Batista! Henrique worked with us during the 2017-18 season both at Notre Dame and in Chicago. Thank you for everything, Henrique!

Where are you from?

Santa Catarina, Brazil

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

I love bread.

Give us a link to something about you.

Henriquembatista.com

Youtube.com/001hmb

Here’s a video of me playing Steven Mackey’s Micro-Concerto in April on my second DMA recital. 

What are you up to these days?

I am gearing up for the last year of my DMA at Bowling Green State University.

ABOUT THE INTERNSHIP

When did you intern with TCP?

My internship with TCP was during the Spring semester of 2018. During my time with TCP I had the opportunity of observing their activities on the road, watch them engage with numerous outreach and educational activities in and out of the city of Chicago, as well as watch them perform a number of times.

How did you connect with TCP?

My first contact with TCP was during a concert at the Toledo Museum of Art in 2017 at which I had the opportunity of playing one of the percussion parts on the Lou Harrison Organ Concerto. This took place as the result of an amazing collaboration between the Toledo Museum of Art, TCP, and Bowling Green State University. After the concert I approached Sean about the possibility of fulfilling my internship requirement for my DMA degree with the organization and over the course of the next couple of months we kept in touch.

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

Yes! I learned so much from my time with TCP. One thing that struck me the most is how engaging and diverse their educational programs are! It was very rewarding to see them engage with groups of different sizes, age ranges, and backgrounds. TCP’s impact as educators in their community is as compelling as their work as performers. It was also very rewarding to see aspects of what it takes to run a successful non-profit; from running board meetings, navigating logistics, and keeping a healthy stock of gaff tape.

What else did you do while interning with TCP?

During my internship I spent some time with Third Coast in South Bend, Indiana, Cleveland, Ohio, and Chicago, Illinois. This was the first time I spent a considerate amount of time in Chicago, and I enjoyed exploring the city, Chicago is amazing. The bulk of my internship took place during the semester, so I had to juggle skyping into classes, assignments, and getting ready for my second DMA recital. I checked out some concerts while I was in town, the Deagan factory, and good restaurants, there’s so much happening in Chicago!

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

I took Rob’s marimba resonator case to get fixed in Chicago and eventually found out that shoe repair places are ideal for marimba case repairs. The things you learn…

Favorite memory from the internship?

I have two favorite memories of my time with Third Coast. The first memory is when I got to sit in during their quarterly board meeting. It gave me a good perspective of how much thought and attention to detail goes into building a successful chamber group. It was also a testament to the incredible level of commitment everyone has to the organization. The first performance I got to watch of Paddle to the Sea in South Bend Indiana will also stick with me for a long time, What an amazing show!

SILLY THINGS

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

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

Paul from Llamas with Hats


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].

 

 

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Third Coast Percussion does a Tiny Desk Concert!

Back in April, we were invited to perform the true pinnacle of music awesomeness: an NPR Music “Tiny Desk Concert.” So many amazing musicians have performed from this real live working desk (yes, someone actually works at it every day, and moves to another table when it’s concert time), and we were thrilled to join the ranks. The whole TCP team worked tirelessly to choose music that would fit in the tiny space, taping off a scale model of the desk in our studio and doing impromptu runs of the show while on tour. We even arranged some of our newest pieces for far more space-efficient instruments. We were all so stoked for this amazing experience, and we want to share more of it with you! Here are some memories and reflections from Sean, Peter, David, Rob, and Colin.

And check out the concert here!

 

      


What were the desk, office, and building like?

Rob: I felt like I was at nerd Mecca! I mean, I don’t put a lot of people or institutions on a pedestal, but I have a ton of respect for NPR. Knowing the level of discourse at which so much of our media engages, I cringe to think about what the American cultural landscape would look like without NPR. I was pretty giddy to be there.

Colin: The building is a really modern, clean design. Many of the desks in the massively open four-story newsroom were empty during our brief time inside, but the whole place still ran with a constant quiet hum of activity, seemingly poised to snap into frenzied action at the drop of a Tweet. It seems like a great place to work. I say that because everyone I encountered was in a good mood, and they have an incredible cafeteria with really healthy food.

The curb/ ramp going up to the loading dock stinks. I had to back our large box truck in at a ridiculous angle across the neighboring driveway to avoid bottoming out. I honestly don’t know how they deal with it on a daily basis.

Peter: Desk area was about as small as we were thinking it would be, but the surrounding area was much more open than I was anticipating.  Basically the entire floor of NPR was an open floor plan, which meant that everyone could see and hear what you were up to. We definitely felt like we were playing to all of NPR, not just a few people in an office.

What were your favorite objects in the office?

Rob: The tiny desk gong. Also the pillow of Carl Kasell’s head watching over us (RIP, Carl).

Colin: The music library (every box set of everything ever made). Discarded celebrity water bottles (Adele, ?uestlove, et al…).

Peter:  Chris Thile’s Birthday Cake, Natalie Merchant’s water bottle. 

   

Sean: DJ Otter Portrait (see photo), Superorganism blow-up sea creature, some bottle of water that I accidentally drank that somebody left there…yeesh.

David: The guest book was pretty sick. We only saw one “volume” of it, but our volume also had Dee Dee Bridgewater, Thundercat, and a bunch of other heavies.

 .   

What was your favorite part of the process?

David: Being surrounded by a bunch of interesting smart people who LOVE music.

Sean: Seeing Josh Rogosin who is the sound engineer for NPR in action was very very cool.  He worked super efficiently and made some things that we never thought were going to be heard sound amazing in the video with a very limited number of microphones. Bookcases and carpeted office floors aren’t known for helping the resonances of the low end of a marimba, but Josh worked his magic!

Colin: 1. Witnessing an historic/ amazing TCP performance from 4 feet away
2. Successfully backing in the truck without damaging the truck or the building.

Rob: Shortly before the performance when all of the NPR folks came in to watch the show on their lunch breaks. There’s a fun excitement in the air, and it was simultaneously a very casual environment and also pretty nerve-wracking, because these people make some of my favorite stuff!

Peter: Performing. There was a really fantastic energy from the NPR staff audience that made it a really exciting 15min. of music making.  

 

Did you learn any cool facts about the series?

Sean: That is is ACTUALLY Bob Boilen’s working desk.  He gets kicked out of there on a weekly basis!

Colin: They do 3-5 Tiny Desk Concerts a WEEK!!! During lunch break!!

David: They’ve done over 700 of these things!

 

Any cool insights that you can share?

David: The series started because Bob Boilen and a colleague were watching an artist at SXSW and they thought the sound wasn’t good and both said they’d rather just hear that artist live unamplified behind Bob’s desk. So they invited the artist and filmed it and that was the beginning.

Colin: The “Tiny Desk” is an actual workspace! People were working there when we arrived, and we had to move their paperwork and laptops off of their tiny desks to make room for our pipes and almglocken!

Sean: All the people there are sooooo cool, pleasant, and supportive. Josh and Bob came to our concert the next day at the Smithsonian, for example. Colin made the point that it felt like everyone there was at the absolute top of their field, but also happy to be there and working really hard.

What are some of your favorite other Tiny Desk concerts?

David: Noname, Anderson .Paak, St. Vincent, Jamila Woods, Superorganism, Common at the White House

Sean: TOOOO MANY TO NAME!!!! How can you not love Chance reading poetry and covering Stevie? or The Roots just doing anything?

I think I have 3 categories of favorite Tiny Desk concerts…

  1. Amazing concerts by friends and collaborators: Son Lux, Eighth Blackbird, Mucca Pazza
  2. Artists that I heard for the first time through Tiny Desk: Superorganism, Noname, T-Pain (embarrassed that I hadn’t before…)
  3. Groups that I already really liked but that I had never SEEN perform before watching them on Tiny Desk: Sylvan Esso, Rubblebucket, Chvrches….this is an especially cool aspect of the Tiny Desk series because it puts faces on a lot of the artists that I only really thought of as a theoretical entity   

Colin: The Roots, Chance The Rapper, Mucca Pazza

Peter:

Large bands: Sun Ra ArkestraNo BS Brass BandMucca Pazza

Chicago: Chance the RapperNonameGallant (w/ Saba)

Rob: 

Perfume Genius – it feels like what Tiny Desk should be, pared down and personal. There’s an almost-uncomfortable fragility and delicacy to this one, and it’s really powerful. Their usual recorded sound is much bigger/electronic/produced but I think they found a good sound on the other end of the spectrum too.

Roomful of Teeth – they just sound so awesome, and it’s amazing to hear all these sounds come from their faces in this sort of environment.

tUnE-yArDs – they’re one of absolute favorites. This is a much older tiny desk show from 2011, and it’s a little raw. Super fun. It’s great watching Merrill Garbus build up a whole bunch of layers with a loop pedal, and there are some nice surprises in here too.

Son Lux – I’m maybe a little partial, since we’ve done project with Ryan and know the other guys in the band a little bit from a festival we both played on a couple years ago, but I love the addition of the horn, and they still have such a vivid sound from the whole band in the office.

——–

Many thanks to NPR Music for having us at the Tiny Desk!

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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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