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TCP10: Season Highlights

As part of our series of #TCP10 blog posts, the members of TCP talk about 10 things they’re most excited about during the 10th Anniversary Season.

David: TCP is going on our first major European tour this season, which is pretty exciting. We’ll be playing Wild Soundthe major multimedia work we commissioned from composer Glenn Kotche, at a number of venues across the continent.

Wild Sound

Rob: I’m looking forward to our 6th full-length album coming out in February, which is an album of Steve Reich’s music on Cedille Records. Reich’s music has always been an important part of our repertoire, and it’s great to put our own stamp on these important works. We’re also working on a new mobile app that goes with the album, so stay tuned for more details on that! I feel like our mobile apps are a really great way for people everywhere to have interactive experiences with the music we play.

Sean: I’m excited to be performing in Alaska for the first time as part of our residency with Juneau Jazz and Classics.  We’ll be taking part in a performance of John Luther Adams’ massive outdoor work Inuksuit, and I’m eager to experience that work in the landscape from which it draws inspiration. Plus, it would be amazing if we get to see a polar bear or a whale…

How Sean pictures our Alaska residency…

Peter: I’m excited for the opportunity to do some professional development with master Ewe musician and dancer Nani Agbeli again this season. This guy is just a ridiculous artist and it’s so nice to step out of our comfort zone and into a new culture and musical tradition.

Nani Agbeli

Sean: I’m very excited to find out who the next round of collaborators will be in our Emerging Composers Partnership.  We’ve already had two fantastic workshopping sessions with the two composers for this year, Danny Clay and Katherine Young, and we’ll know who the next round will be by the end of the calendar year.

David: Donnacha Dennehy is writing us a new piece for a panoply of drums scattered throughout the performance space. He’s dreaming up some really amazing new sounds for these instruments that are at the core of what we do as an ensemble. We’ll be performing the piece at Notre Dame, University of Chicago, and the Met Museum this winter!

Donnacha Dennehy

Peter: I’m really thrilled that TCP is going through its first financial audit.  While this may sound like “I’m thrilled to listen to Dave practice Bach on the Digeridoo”, I’m actually genuinely excited about it. I’ve been managing our finances for a very long time, and going through this process is just another milestone that showcases how far our organization has come.

Dave practicing Bach on his Didgeridoo

Liz, TCP Managing Director: I suppose to start I am so happy to be here!  Being the ensembles first administrative hire feels pretty special to me. I’m looking forward to seeing how they grow over the next year (and beyond!) since I’ll be taking some administrative work off their plates. It might sound lame but thinking about ways I can give them more time to just keep being musicians is really exciting to me.

Rob: We’ve got a bit of a homecoming at Northwestern University this season. All four of us are NU alums, but we haven’t played a concert there since the first concert we ever played! It’s particularly exciting because we’ll be performing in their beautiful new concert hall, with views of the lake and skyline. The concert is part of Northwestern’s New Music Conference, and we’ll be working with NU composition students throughout the year.

Northwestern’s new Music and Communications Building

David: I’m really excited to be playing Steve Reich’s Sextet a few times this season. It’s one of my absolute favorite pieces to play, and we’ll be performing it with two killer pianists – Oliver Hagen and David Friend.

Click here to support TCP as we celebrate 10 years!

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Third Coast Percussion Celebrates 10 Years!

 

TCP_10-Anniv_logo_10-hashtag

This season, we’re celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Third Coast Percussion! Throughout the season, we’ll be posting a series of #TCP10 blog entries, looking back on the first ten years, reflecting on where the organization is today, and discussing our plans for the future.

We’d also like to invite all of you to share your own favorite Third Coast Percussion memories or photos from the past 10 years on social media, with the hashtag #TCP10.

Our 10-year celebration began earlier this summer; our mammoth In C performance in Millennium Park happened to fall exactly 10 years to the day after the first concert TCP ever played. Right after the concert, we hosted a reception to celebrate 10 years with our fans, families, supporters, and colleagues.

(All photos by Peter Tsai)

We had an instrument petting zoo for people to try out some of our instruments.

Including the Arduino keyboards from Glenn Kotche’s “Wild Sound.”

DSC04433

We were honored by some incredibly kind words from composer and long-time collaborator Augusta Read Thomas.

Our board chair Samir Mayekar toasted TCP.

We had a gallery of press photos throughout the years… we were apparently all very moody in our 20s. (Keep an eye out for more of that on the blog.)

TCP has fans of all ages!

 

The exciting growth that Third Coast Percussion has experienced over the past decade has only been possible because of the generosity of many individuals and foundations who value our artistic and educational work. Visit our Support Us page to make a gift in support of TCP’s 10th Anniversary Season and see our complete list of supporters.

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In C Performance

What an experience! Our plan was to gather 80 performers in honor of Terry Riley’s 80th birthday, and we ended up with over 100 of Chicago’s finest musicians to join us in concert at Chicago’s Pritzker Pavilion.

The Group

The performers came from all over Chicago’s diverse musical community. Our musicians included members from the Chicago Harp Quartet, Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra, Ensemble Dal Niente, Fifth House Ensemble, Grant Wallace Band, In Tall Buildings, Lowdown Brass Band, Matt Ulery’s Loom, MOCREP, Mucca Pazza, North Shore Concert Band, Parlour Tapes+, Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, Rock River Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Snarky Puppy, Spare Parts, Spektral Quartet, Templom, Ursa Ensemble, and Wild Belle.  We also had students from the Chicago High School for the Arts, DePaul University, Merit School of Music, Milliken University, Northern Illinois University, Northwestern University, and the University of Chicago. Our hats off to the crew at Pritzker Pavilion, there were a lot of lines to sound check.

 

Some Closeups

We had a section of 7 harpists!  Such incredible musicians and what an amazing sound!

Yes, in addition to just about every orchestral instrument you could think of, we also had 2 melodicas, 3 toy pianos…

…whatever Jenna Lyle from Parlour Tapes+ was playing…

…and this amazing instrument.  An Array Mbira performed by Matt Shelton.

Dave held it all down with his glockenspiel.  Seriously, he played 8th-note C’s for 45 minutes straight!  Our concert that night opened for Snarky Puppy, and a few of their members joined us including guitarist Bob Lanzetti.

I have to give a shout out to Jacob Nissly. Jake was an original member of Third Coast Percussion from back in 2005.  Our In C performance also happened to be 10 years to the exact date of our first concert ever.  Jake is now the principle percussionist of the San Fransisco Symphony and flew out to play again with the group and celebrate our 10th anniversary with us.

The Venue

Summer in Chicago at the best outdoor venue in the city.  You can’t control the weather, and there were a few showers that day all the way up through our sound check.  Luckily it cleared up and an estimated 6,000 audience members came to the show.

 

Wrapping Up

I got to cue the final swell of the piece.  Directing over 100 players in this massive sound was one of the most unique musical experiences I’ve ever had.  I had an audience member tell me that it was the loudest thing they’d ever heard at a classical music performance.  When we reached our loudest point, I screamed “Louder!”  I realized I couldn’t hear myself screaming and figured it was probably good:).

I’ve had the opportunity now to perform in C a handful of times across the country.  One of my favorite memories as a teacher was organizing a flash-mob performance of “In C” while a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. When I think about playing “In C”, I always think of Joy.

To me, performances of In C are really a celebration between musicians.  The music becomes a joyful dialogue amongst performers who are celebrating the fact that they have the opportunity to create music together. I think many would agree that this type of experience also gets to the heart of much of Terry Riley’s music. What an experience to be able to perform alongside so many amazing musicians! I even had the honor of sharing a piano with Mabel Kwan (…also an incredibly intimidating and humbling experience because she’s a monster pianist…).

We celebrated Terry Riley’s 80th Birthday with thousands of audience members, celebrated being a musician with over 100 of our friends and colleagues on stage, celebrated our ensembles 10-year anniversary, and celebrated the close to another awesome concert season.

Winning.

-PJM

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Terry Riley’s In C

In C Performers:

Thank you so much for joining us on this performance! We are so excited for this opportunity to make music with all of you at one of the most spectacular venues in Chicago. Our goal is to create an amazing performance experience for both our musicians and our audience. Many thanks for bringing your time and talents to this unique event.

On this blog post, you will find:

  • Printed music for In C. There are performance scores in concert pitch, as well as scores transposed for Eb, F, and Bb instruments. Each copy of the score also has detailed performance directions from Terry Riley.
  • A list of events for the performance project, with times and locations.
  • A general discussion on performance practice of In C and a few specific directions for our performance together.
  • Some instructional videos for In C.
  • Video and Audio of a few performances of In C.

Printed Scores

Terry Riley – In C (concert)

Terry Riley – In C for Eb instruments

Terry Riley – In C for F instruments

Terry Rliey – In C for Bb instruments

Calendar of Events

  •  June 24, Third Coast Percussion studio
    • 6:00-9:00pm
    • 4045 N Rockwell St.  Chicago, IL 60618
      • free street parking
      • food provided
  • June 25,  Pritzker Pavillion
    • 3:00pm load-in, call for all performers
      • Enter stage from Randolph St., east side of the pavillion
    • 4:15-5:00pm soundcheck
    • 5:00-6:00pm Stage dark
    • 6:30-7:15 Performance
    • 7:15-7:30 Change over stage

Performance Specifics

Performing directions for In C are included in each copy of the score. Please familiarize yourself with all of the directions from the composer in the score. Additionally, below you’ll find a few specifics and some general ideas to help prepare you for our performance at Pritzker Pavillion:

For this performance, we are shooting for a total duration of 45 min. As you move through the musical material, you should spend around 45-50 seconds on each pattern. The performance tempo will be ca. quarter note = 96 bpm, and pulsing eighth notes will be played by a member of TCP on glockenspiel throughout.

The performance will begin with the glockenspiel playing eighth notes on a concert C pitch. After 5-10 seconds, the entire ensemble will begin entering with the first melodic pattern. Each performer should enter when they feel appropriate and every performer should have entered after 20 seconds.

Listen first, then play 😉 Each individual performer must play strictly within the grid provided by the glockenspiel. However, each performer is free to choose where the “downbeat” of each measure is. Players should feel free to take breaks from playing periodically, but remember that the chronological map of 45-50 seconds per pattern should keep on going whether you are playing or not. If you need to stop to breath, stop. If you don’t need to stop to breath, you should probably still stop from time to time which will add the changes in texture that can create such fantastic performances of the piece.

You should never be more than 2-3 melodic patterns ahead or behind the rest of the ensemble. If you listen around and realize that you are still playing pattern 3 while the rest of the ensemble is somewhere around 19, jump forward to join them. Similarly, if you realize that you are really far ahead of the rest of the ensemble, fade out, wait for the group to catch up to your location, and come back in.

Performers should feel free to add dynamics and articulation to the melodic patterns as they feel appropriate. Listen across the ensemble. If you hear another performer phrasing a pattern in a particular way, try to imitate it. The uniformity of interpretation will highlight the canonic effect of the music. If you hear other performers moving in a particular direction dynamically, try following them. This will bring a unified sound and direction to the ensemble.

Perform each musical pattern in a register you feel appropriate on your instrument. If you like, you can switch registers throughout the piece. Use your instruments’ unique advantages to serve the performance as a whole. For instance, if you play an instrument with a great low register and the ability to sustain, bring out those long tones and help fill out the sound of the ensemble!

If there is a pattern that doesn’t work well on your voice or instrument at the given tempo, you can augment the rhythmic values of the musical pattern (16th notes become eighth notes, eighth notes become quarter notes, etc.). You can also choose to sit out for a pattern if it’s not idiomatic to your voice/instrument. Always make sure that you are keeping track of where you are and the timing of each pattern, even if you aren’t playing it.

The piece will end after all players arrive at no. 53. Once everyone has arrived at this last motive, the entire ensemble with play a long and gradual crescendo and diminuendo, lasting 20-30 seconds total. A member from Third Coast Percussion will cue the beginning of this event. Everyone will then fade out, leaving only pulsing eighth notes in the glockenspiel. The last instrument to be playing, the glockenspiel will fade out and the performance ends.

Instructional Videos

Video / Audio of In C Performances

There are so many recordings of this work, and the diversity of the performances and ensembles is one of the things that makes the music so fantastic and timeless. I like the Bang on a Can All-Stars’ version. There are a few links to performances online below. Dig around yourself and share! If there is a performance that you really love, send us a link and we’ll post it.

Terry Riley (audio)

Terry Riley & Friends – Amsterdam

Baylor Percussion Group

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Detailed Program Notes for Currents: Democracy Looks Like

One of the new works we’ll be premiering this Sunday at Constellation is democracy looks like by Adam Cuthbert.  This is a TCP commission and we’re really excited about it!

Here are some more detailed program notes on the piece:

 

 photo by matt finch

democracy looks like is thematically built on some of the memorable call-and-response chants spoken within the protest marches which erupted all over America last year.

The structure is meant to mimic the organic development of chants within a march. Voices rise up as protesters join the call and the response. With a manner of immediacy, the energy gains momentum as voices join, and recedes as voices fatigue. During an efficiently functioning protest chant, the momentum is paced so new voices step in to support fatigued voices, creating a consistent cycle, and static rhythm plays host to a constantly shifting ensemble timbre. These chants are all a communal effort a beautifully synchronized human spirit.

I wanted to facilitate this same kind of communal effort in the performance, so the ensemble shares a DJ controller to manipulate each others’ timbres with live effects processes in real time via special just-for-kalimbas software fx racks. The backbeats are framed from some of my favorite rhythms found in dance music, including the Chicago-born 160bpm footwork style.

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