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Travel Log: Florida, September 2012

TCP landed in Tampa, FL last week – 5 days in the sunshine state culminating in our performance at New Music New College on Saturday, the 22nd.

First order of business was to refuel and recharge at a local eatery, Skippers Smokehouse, thanks to the solid research of TCP’s culinary adviser, Mr. Robert Dillon.  

Yes, that is a tree growing out of the restaurant.   Other observations include the reaffirmation that many things taste like chicken, including Alligator.

We stopped by University of South Florida for a Masterclass on the music of John Cage with student percussionists before loading a truck full of gear and heading down to Sarasota.

Many, many thanks to Bob McCormick and his wonderful students at USF for a great discussion and their assistance with all of the instruments.

After unloading at New College.  We spent the next few days setting up, sound checking, working with students, and falling in love with a new piano.

Yamaha has a new competitor in the auto/instrument business!  In all seriousness, 9 times out of 10 when TCP is on tour we end up playing on a $100,000+ Steinway D piano.  Problem is, these instruments don’t really work for our repertoire (Cage’s 2nd ConstructionCredo in US).  The issue is with the structural braces inside the piano that hold everything together.  In 100% of the 9 ft. concert grands I’ve encountered, there is a structural beam located right on top of the specific strings I have to mute with one hand in Credo.  Structural beams also interfere with Clay’s preparations in 2nd Construction and his ability to create the unique sounds (harmonics, etc.) of his part.     For some reason, the engineering on this axe is about as perfect as you can get for TCP’s performing.

Nothing says “New Music Diva” like when a presenter shows you a beautiful concert grand and you complain about not being able to shove screws into it effectively:).  So Clay and I generally keep our mouths shut, suck it up and fine unique ways around problematic sections.  Not the case with this instrument!

Horowitz used to travel with his own piano – now that would be cool.   I’m not sure if the same is going to happen with TCP, especially given the rest of the gear we haul around on a daily basis.  But we will be keeping a look out for Hyundai’s in the future.

Our show in Sarasota was fantastic and the New Music College students who joined us for a performance of John Cage’s Radio Music did a brilliant job!  Check out a recent review in Arts Sarasota.   A special shout out to Stephen Miles for bringing us down to New Music New College and Ron Silver for his amazing talents and assistance with audio and lighting!

After 24 hrs back home on Monday, Third Coast is back on the road, currently in South Bend, Indiana for the premiere performance of Augusta Read Thomas’ Resounding Earth and a short residency at University of Notre Dame.  Stay tuned for more musings from the travel log.

-PJM

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We are thrilled to announce the launch of our brand new website!

This summer has been an unprecedented time of growth for Third Coast Percussion. We released of our first full-length album, played concerts in New York, Washington, D.C., Austin, and Chicago, concluded a 3-month-long community residency, received lots of great press attention, and somehow still found time to completely remodel our rehearsal studio, workshop a major new work with composer Augusta Read Thomas, and put together a new website with the help of the brilliant folks at Bark Design.

This website features all new ways to see, hear, and read about what Third Coast has been up to and what’s on the horizon. We hope you enjoy checking it out, and we hope you’ll stop back by again soon!

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JLA’s Inuksuit in Chicago

…you do an outdoor show involving 99 musicians traveling from across the country to Millennium Park, Chicago.   It starts to rain…

…a storm is brewing, scheduled to peak right at the downbeat.    You decide to wrap your drums in cellophane (doesn’t sound too bad actually – think of it as a double ply drum head)…

…the show is about to start, it’s raining, but not too bad, so you throw on a few more trash bags, put on a poncho, grab some mallets…

…first 20 minutes are just fine.   It’s raining, but the audience has showed up with some umbrellas and everything is going fine.   You play your first notes on the drums and suddenly the sky opens up and dumps on you.  Torrential downpour – it couldn’t possibly be raining any harder.   The music keeps going, the water splashes in every direction from your drums as you play.  Between phrases you wipe puddles of rainwater from your bass drum…

It’s been about a week since Third Coast participated in one of the most unique concerts of the summer in Chicago.   Directed by Doug Perkins and Eighth Blackbird, 99 musicians performed John Luther Adams’ Inuksuit as part of the Loops and Variations concert series on Sunday, August 26th.  None of us really anticipated the massive weather accompaniment and, while they weren’t the most immediately desirable conditions, the result was one of the most memorable performances and musical experiences I’ve ever had.    Performers and audience alike knew that they were part of something extremely special that day.  Check out the Chicago Sun-Times review of the show.

As I looked across the lawn with all of the carefully wrapped instruments, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Land Art works of Christo and Jeane-Claude, with their wrapping of monuments and landscapes.

I also thought of Walter de Maria’s Lightning Field (1977) with hundred of metal poles scattered across a remote part of the New Mexico desert.

While there was no lightning last Sunday at Millennium Park, the connection between art and nature couldn’t have been more vivid.  I couldn’t help but be consumed by the connection between the music and the storm, and how it couldn’t have been more perfectly combined.  While a performance of this piece anywhere would be amazing – this one , for everyone who was there, was something truly special.

-PJM

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RENGA:Cage:100 – Complete Composer List

Below is the complete list of 100 composers who have contributed to this project in honor of John Cage’s centenary. Each composer gave us 5-7 seconds of music which we have strung together into a single continuous piece we are calling RENGA:Cage:100. We will be premiering the piece this Thursday, August 9 at MoMA, with a preview performance Tuesday, August 7 at the Kennedy Center. If you can’t be at either performance, you can watch a live video webcast on the Kennedy Center’s website.

Huge thanks to all of these composers for contributing their creative energy to this project. The piece has turned out even better than we could have hoped. We’re excited to premiere it this week!

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