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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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Meet our Emerging Composers!

For the third round of TCP’s Emerging Composers Partnership program, we received 99 applications, almost twice as many as previous years. There was so much great music in the bunch, it was really hard to pick just two composers to collaborate with! After many hours of reviewing applications (each of the 99 applicants submitted two recordings of their previous works, as well as a questionnaire, resume etc), and multiple meetings, we’re very excited to announce our two emerging composers for the 2016-17 season. They will each compose a new work for Third Coast Percussion through a series of collaborative workshops in Chicago. Their new work will be premiered on TCP’s Chicago Concert Season, and the composers each receive an honorarium and a recording of the piece.

José Martínez JoséMartinez -  3

José Martínez (b.1983, Cali, Colombia) is a composer and percussionist whose music incorporates a wide range of influences, from Colombian folk tunes to avant-garde Western art music. The sounds of Latin music, heavy metal, contemporary classical, and progressive rock all find a place to interact in his music and form his unique sound palette. His body of work includes pieces for orchestra, string quintet, saxophone quartet, pierrot ensembles, and solo with electronics.

Notable collaborations include works for the chamber orchestra Alarm Will Sound at the Mizzou International Composer Festival 2014 and the Spanish ensemble Taller Sonoro. Other important performances include two European premieres, one in the International Clarinet Convention in Spain and the other in the World Saxophone Congress in France. Also notable was the premiere of his string quintet Looking for the Clave by members of the St. Louis Symphony. He is a recipient of the 2013 Sinquefield Composition Prize, given each year to one University of Missouri composition student.  José also collaborated with percussionists Keith Aleo and Mike Truesdell in a new solo piece with live electronics, which they will take on a national US tour.

José recently participated in the Next on Grand: National Composers Intensive program organized by the LA Phil and the ensemble Wild Up, where he attended master classes with Michael Gordon, Julia Wolfe, Sean Friar and Steve Mackey.

José graduated from the National University of Colombia as both a percussionist and a composer. He is currently pursuing a MM in composition at the University of Missouri.

Annika K. Socolofsky image1

American composer and vocalist Annika K. Socolofsky (b. 1990, Edinburgh, Scotland) finds her musical roots across many cultures. Her music stems from the timbral nuance and variation of the human voice, and is communicated through mediums ranging from orchestral works to unaccompanied folk ballads. Annika is a 2014 recipient of a Fromm Foundation Commission from Harvard University, funding a new multi-media work for the Emissary Quartet.

Her compositions have been performed by artists including the Donald Sinta Quartet, Access Contemporary Music Chicago, Alia Musica Pittsburgh, and the University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra, among others. Her works, projects, and related research have been presented at The Italian Society of Contemporary Music, Bang on a Can, Chamber Music America, Princeton Sound Kitchen, Midwest Composers Symposium, and Northwestern University New Music Institute & Conference. Annika is the recipient of a Fromm Foundation Commission, Rackham International Research Award, a Rackham Research Grant, first prize in the International Margaret Blackburn Biennial Composition Competition, and several awards from ASCAP.

Annika is currently a doctoral fellow in Composition at Princeton University. She holds a Master’s in Composition from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor’s in Composition from Carnegie Mellon University.

Support the Emerging Composers Partnership!

Third Coast Percussion’s Emerging Composers Partnership program is entirely donor funded. Click here to make a tax-deductible gift to help support the Emerging Composers Partnership, along with all of TCP’s other educational and performance programs. Thank you!
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