Press Materials

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“They play as if they’re a single, eight-armed organism”
-NPR Music

“Virtuosity and deft, precisely timed wit”
-Washington Post

“Commandingly elegant”
-New York Times

-Alex Ross, The New Yorker

“An inspirational sense of fun and curiosity”
-Minnesota Star-Tribune

“The group performed with absolute aplomb”
-Boston Globe

-Chicago Tribune

“Mysterious, funny, endlessly inventive”
-Boston Classical Review

-Independent (UK)

“Technical precision, palpable groove and outstanding sound”
-Time Out New York 

-New York Times

“Savvy and hyper-talented young percussionists”
-Musical Toronto

“Fluency and zest”
-Andrew Clements, the Guardian (UK)

“Undeniably groovy…masterfully performed”
-Time Out Chicago

“One of the country’s finest new music ensembles”
-Chicago Reader

“The musicality and fierce focus of Third Coast Percussion electrified the room.”
-Sarasota Herald-Tribune 

Reviews and Features

Hubbard Street Dance Can Do Anything and They Like to Prove It

January 22, 2019
by Janice Berman

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago last Saturday night at Zellerbach Hall offered a stunning show, capped with live music by Chicago band Third Coast Percussion. In the second of two weekend programs, the troupe — presented by Cal Performances — served up a banquet.

When your reviewer last clapped eyes on Hubbard Street, at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in 1990 or so, it was to see a meticulously rendered Eight Jelly Rolls, by Twyla Tharp to the music of Jelly Roll Morton. Different era, different everything. Hubbard Street, once described as a jazz-dance company, is solidly modern, which means it can do anything it wants — that’s how the lines of demarcation have vanished. Vive la no difference. We grow and change, as Artistic Director Glenn Edgerton told me that night at intermission. Boy, don’t we ever. Edgerton, a star of the Joffrey Ballet when it still was New York-based (it’s in Chicago now), moved on to direct the Netherlands Dance Theater and in 2008 to Hubbard Street, founded in 1977 by Broadway veteran Lou Conte.

Not too surprisingly, Hubbard Street still displays a wonderfully eclectic appetite. Conte infused it with Broadway and then with more international adventures, into works by Nacho Duato, Ohad Naharin, and Jiri Kylian, founder of Nederlands Dance Theater. See how everything’s related? Edgerton, mentored by Joffrey Ballet cofounder Robert Joffrey, was long accustomed to historic explorations, great reaches into the past — the Joffrey repertory stretched back to Nijinsky and beyond — as well as contemporary creations by the likes of Joffrey co-founder Gerald Arpino. But onward: Change and grow, and now in 2019, glow.

Interestingly, the first piece on the program was a Third Coast instrumental, Perfectly Voiceless, by Devonté Hynes — aka Blood Orange — who also composed the music for the first two dances.

Grammy-winning Third Coast’s four musicians (Sean Connors, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin, and David Skidmore) play xylophones, marimbas, gongs, cymbals, claves, kettle drums, a screechy washboard-looking thing, and the melodica, of late popularized by Jon Batiste on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.

As good as Third Coast are, they’re even better because sometimes they look awestruck, their eyes following the sounds as they rise from the instruments. And who can blame them?

If the times change, so do creative outlets. The credits of choreographers Emma Portner and Teddy Forance include music videos, commercials and Dancing With the Stars. At Zellerbach, excerpts from Portner’s For All Its Fury, and Forance’s Everything Must Go were both set to music by Hynes, inspired by Sylvia Plath’s poem “Mushrooms.”

Read the full review here.

BWW Review: Hubbard Street dance Chicago & Third Coast Percussion blend their talents into a fascinating event at The Wallis Annenberg Center for The Performing Arts

January 16, 2019
by Valerie-Jean Miller

Hubbard Street, a well-established Contemporary Dance Company presents an interesting collage of dance pieces that are demanding technique-wise yet so fluid and rhythmic they make it look effortless and fresh. I mention collage because the evening painted a bigger picture through each piece, making it complete by the finish.

The sixteen dancers are amazing physical interpreters of a feeling, a mood, an emotion, a vibe. They are strong, versatile and vibrant. The pieces by themselves are each complex, deep, bold, unique; with maximum controlled energy, extreme focus and inner and outer strength required, or rather, mandatory to perform them. That verbiage might seem a bit jumbled, but it’s what I felt after seeing these dancers perform… (That’s my stream-of-consciousness statement)

The opening, “Perfectly Voiceless” was the West Coast premiere of the Third Coast Percussion group’s instrumental creation by Dev Hynes (Blood Orange) that showcases its proliferous range of sounds, complexity of rhythm and dynamics and style of performance. Third Coast Percussion is a Grammy-winning, artist-run quartet of classically-trained percussionists, also based in Chicago. Incorporating their classical training with stylistic influences ranging from Zimbabwean mbira music to art rock.

This program highlights musical polymath Devonté Hynes, and the ensemble’s own compositions, throughout the evening.

The Percussion Ensemble (Sean Connors, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin and David Skidmore) went on to accompany a few of the dance pieces, which contributed a defined timbre and flavor to the following:

The first dance piece, choreographed by Emma Porter, entitled “For All Its Fury,” a West Coast premiere, was eccentric, inventive, and modern in presentation with wild isolated movements and poses that flowed through each other and created an unusual visual flow of movement with distinct characters catching your eye as they stood out in their particular manner. Rena Butler dances solo through the entire piece as she floats through different groupings and formations, sometimes pulling down front dancing an exquisite dance of her own. I noticed the dancers’ constant intertwining with each other, almost never not physically touching one another within a section or pas de deux. There was an intenseness, but there were little surprise bursts of lightness in the staging and portrayals that made you smile ~ very involving to watch play out ~ The performers were: Craig D. Black, Jr., Alicia Delgadillo, Kellie Eppenheimer, Elliot Hammans, Adrienne Lipson, Florian Lochner, Andrew Murdoch and Rena Butler, pictured above.

Teddy Forance’s “Everything Must Go,” also premiering here on the West Coast, was the most in tune with the percussion sounds and rhythms and the dancers were in tune with each other’s movements. It begins with a trio standing center stage ringing bells that are in each hand, chiming a melody that ends in a dissonant treble note breaking them into moving formations, dancing in unison, as the sounds multiply and blossom into fuller melodies. At first the dancers are loose and fluid, but, somewhat like the first piece, as the tempo increases and becomes more intricate they tighten in together and compartmentalize their movements, everyone connected to each other in some way. A nice end section, quite clean and in unison, spinning in plie en attitude derriere. Same performers as above.

Read the full review here.

Dreamy, Dazzling Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Third Coast Percussion, a dream collaboration

January 12, 2019
by Victoria Looseleaf

Collaborations can sometimes be risky business. But in the right hands—and feet—they can have wondrous results. Case in point: Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Third Coast Percussion, also Chicago-based, brought a dreamy, sometimes dazzling, sometimes delirious blend of music and dance to the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts over the weekend.

Performing excerpts from a full-evening 2018 commission, which comprised the program’s first half, the troupes made use of original music by British composer Dévonte Hynes (better known as Blood Orange), with choreographers Emma Portner and Teddy Forance doing terpsichorean duty. The concert began with a musical interlude, “Perfectly Voiceless,” a minimalist shock of sounds played and arranged by Sean Connors, David Skidmore, Robert Dillon and Peter Martin on a variety of mallet-driven instruments. Setting the mood, the percussionists proved a virtuosic panoply of aural clarity, the Wallis’ acoustics sublime.

As several of David Kim’s panels descended from the rafters, eight dancers began swirling onto the stage in Portner’s “For All Its Fury.” The dancemaker, who has been married to actress Ellen Page for the past year but is best known, perhaps, for performing in and choreographing Justin Bieber’s 2015 “Life Is Worth Living,” which to date has racked up some 50 million YouTube views, served up a riot of seemingly non-stop moves interspersed with slo-mo posturings and still tableaux for her charges.

Clad in Hogan McLaughlin’s Shaolin monk-like costumes—brown tunics and skirts—the dancers also helped showcase Rena Butler. Standing apart from the group, Butler, sporting a neo-ruched top and shorts, was divine in her slinky, sexy stances, her legs an ode to feral felines, with the others often assaying militaristic unisons and fluttery arms as they darted through and around the panels.

Also credited in this number: Sylvia Plath’s poem, “Mushrooms,” which this viewer was unable to detect, although one dancer cavorted with a piece of plastic, as the theme of sustainability continued in Forance’s “Everything Must Go.” Returning in McLaughlin’s simple tops and culottes, the performers again executed deft unisons, abetted by the percussionists, who not only provided a heart-throbbing score but a veritable wall of sound. The moves were Pilobolussean and insistent, with lots of writhing and lunging. Forance, who has performed with Lady Gaga, Madonna and Usher, to name a few, was not shy with his footwork, giving the dancers a variety of steps while also looking ebullient, whether in leaps or on the balls of their feet. And while Jim French’s lighting design tended to tip towards amber throughout the evening’s first half, there was also a sense of mystery enveloping these beautiful bodies.

Click here to read more.

Review: Hubbard Street Dance at the Wallis is pure poetry in motion

January 11, 2019
by Laura Bleiberg

From its humble beginnings in the mid-1970s, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago has been the little company that could, a jazz troupe launched and molded by former Broadway hoofer Lou Conte.

Hubbard Street is still a small group (16 exceptional women and men), but it has become a mighty beacon of resplendent dancing, proved by the company’s show Thursday at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.

Conte allowed Hubbard Street to outgrow its stylistic origins and organically find its own soul, becoming a home for Twyla Tharp’s early masterworks. Under Conte’s successor, Jim Vincent, and current leader Glenn Edgerton, the group has demonstrated a penchant for humongous physicality and established a repertory that’s edgy but still pleasing to audiences.

Even pieces that fail to land their punch still exhibit an infectious brio. This was the case with the program’s first half, consisting of excerpts from a full-evening commission from 2018. As presented here, the triptych began with a musical interlude by Third Coast Percussion and seamlessly segued into dances from pop-culture choreographers Emma Portner and Teddy Forance. The standouts, though, were composer Devonté Hynes’ lush score and Third Coast musicians Sean Connors, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin and David Skidmore, who were onstage making otherworldly sounds from a multitude of idiophones, drums and other devices.

Portner and Forance’s pieces loosely cross-pollinate an environmentalist theme with Sylvia Plath’s female empowerment poem “Mushrooms.” But you wouldn’t have known that from the excerpts presented — except for a glimpse of a man with a plastic bag over his head. Portner, the choreographer behind and performer in Justin Bieber’s “Life Is Worth Living” video, here creates vignettes that are just beyond deciphering.

Portner crafted quick, pulsing movements, contrasted with frozen tableaux of the performers playing peek-a-boo behind two hanging banners. There were moments of cooperation mixed with power struggles among seven dancers identically clad in brown tunics and skirts. Soloist Rena Butler, in speckled top and shorts, remained apart, undulating with exquisite control.

After a costume change, the dancers returned for Forance’s more brief portion, focused on unison motion of driving urgency. Throughout, though, it was Hynes’ score of insistent ringing and drumming that stirred the senses.

The second half of the evening opened with “Ignore,” a striking selection from Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin. It slowly built power from the repetition of motion and narration. As we heard Charles Bukowski’s raw poem “making it” over and over, a new line added each time, a terrific female quintet stamped idiosyncratic gestures into the viewer’s mind. It hit like a slow drip, an exhilarating torture (and still memorable from the solo variation that Bodytraffic performed at the Wallis last year).

Hubbard resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo’s “Pacopepepluto” is the other extreme, a good-hearted pleasure trip. Imagine Dean Martin crooning “That’s Amore” while a buff guy — Michael Gross — scampers about in just his skivvies and you’ve got the idea. The two other equally buff and exposed guys, Craig Black Jr. and Florian Lochner, frolicked solo to other golden oldies, completing this witty and sharply carved trio.

The best was saved for last: Choreographer Crystal Pite’s “Solo Echo,” created to two Brahms cello and piano sonatas. We see too few of this brilliant Canadian dance maker’s pieces. She is masterful at crafting dance that crosses the theater divide to reverberate in the viewer’s body. In “Solo Echo,” she turned Mark Strand’s poem “Lines for Winter” into powerful statements of love and death.

Lighting designer Tom Visser set the scene with a simulated snowfall on the backdrop. The seven dancers flowed through Pite’s lyrical passages, advancing and receding like waves. For the second half, they danced connected, starting phrases on successive musical notes and becoming a real-life echo. The subtly shifting illumination, paired with this rolling motion caused a wondrous vertigo. Amazing.

Hmmm. Three poems were fodder for this program — must be a trend.

Click here for the original review.

The ArtsDesk: Best of 2018

Many thanks to Graham Rickson from The Arts Desk for listing Paddle to the Sea in the Best of 2018: Classical Albums!

“Third Coast Percussion’s collectively composed Paddle to the Sea (Cedille), based on an iconic Canadian children’s book tracing a toy canoe’s journey downstream, is a mesmerising collage of bewitching sounds.”

See the original article and full listing here.

Second Inversion: Top 10 Albums of 2018

Many thanks to Second Inversion for listing Paddle to the Sea in their Top 10 Albums of 2018We loved working with this fantastic classical music organization when we visited Seattle in January 2018. Second Inversion also presented the video premiere of Paddle to the Sea, which they graciously included in their 2018 Year in Review. Thank you to everyone at Second Inversion and their host, 98.1 KING FM in Seattle!

Check out the video here, and the full Top 10 listing here.


The Wallis Presents Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Third Coast Percussion

December 11, 2018
by BWW News Desk

Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts presents the highly anticipated West Coast premiere of excerpts from the first collaboration between the acclaimed Chicago-based company Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, considered a major force in contemporary dance, and Grammy Award-winning Third Coast Percussion with three performances on Thursday, January 10 through Saturday, January 12, 2019, at 7:30 pm. The new works, both by Los Angeles choreographers, include “For All Its Fury” by YouTube sensation Emma Portner, who gained international attention for her video and tour choreography for Justin Bieber, and “Everything Must Go,” by Teddy Forance, whose work has been featured on the hit television show “So You Think You Can Dance.” Inspired by the principal of sustainability and loosely intertwined, the works feature a powerful score by British singer/songwriter/composer Devonté Hynes, also known as Blood Orange, that will be performed live on stage by Third Coast Percussion. The highly regarded quartet of classically-trained percussionists also performs a solo interlude by Hynes. Hubbard Street’s Wallis debut launches a four-month North American tour by the company that also includes stops in New York City, West Palm Beach, FL, and Vancouver, British Columbia.

Purchase tickets here.

Read the full article here.

BLAA musical director Mauricio Peña: Music for the masses

We are very excited to perform in Bogotá, Columbia, in 2019! We’ll perform at the Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango (BLAA), where music director Mauricio Peña is working “to make music affordable and go beyond the classical.”  Check out this profile of Peña from The Bogotá Post.

December 13, 2018
by Franziska Bujara

Mauricio Peña, the musical director of the BLAA, tells us about how they work to make music affordable and go beyond the classical.

The Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango celebrated its 60th birthday this year. As well as a library housing two million books, the huge space in the Candelaria is home to a popular concert hall which was built a few years later. We caught up with musical director Mauricio Peña to find out more about the story of this extraordinary space.

He starts by explaining that their mission is to preserve and promote all Colombian music, which is not always easy in a music hall that was built 52 years ago. “The way it is set up, the whole concept was for classical music,” he says. “We had to think about how it becomes something for Bogotá and for Colombia that includes classical music, but which also reflects the country itself.”

That’s why you’ll find a mix of genres on the programme. Next year Ensemble Sinsonte, who play traditional Colombian music, will be performing just a week after Pflanzplätz bring traditional Swiss music to the stage.

Another aspect that the BLAA pride themselves on is making music – especially classical music – accessible. Peña explains that there’s a reason that the events are good value, but not free: “While we are deeply committed to maintaining an affordable price, we are also deeply committed to not turning them into for-free experiences.” Tickets usually cost $6,000 – $10,000 and he says they have never had any complaints about the price, commenting that: “It must cost something, the price symbolises the value.”

And there’s plenty to look forward to – both this year and next. Peña is particularly excited about ‘Colombia se compone’ in the last week of November,  which will see various talks, workshops and conferences to mark the launch of three recordings. “Two are by Colombian composers Francisco Zumaqué and Johann Hasler, the third is volume three of a collection of works by Colombian composers commissioned by the banco de la República.”

There’s already some heavy hitters lined up for 2019. “We start on February 15, opening our series with Blanca Uribe. And we have all sorts of ensembles, we have a percussion ensemble, a saxophone ensemble. The string quartet Diotima, will be premiering a string quartet by [Colombian composer] Carolina Noguera commissioned by the bank, as well as Bartók’s quartets.” Keep an eye out for Chicago’s Third Coast Percussion, the organist Hansjörg Albrecht from Germany and the French guitar Cuarteto Éclisses and Der Musikalische Garten from Switzerland.

While the concerts are important part of their mission, the other key element is nurturing and promoting young talent. This brings us to the ‘jóvenes interpretes’ programme which began back in 1985. “We realised that you could not become a world class music hall if you don’t have musicians in your country who want to become world class performers.”

It is a very competitive process where young people perform in music halls throughout the country on various different instruments. “It gives the kids a real sense of being a professional musician.”

Peña’s picks

We asked who the three big names to watch were in Colombian classical music. “Santiago Cañon, definitely,” he says. “He has studied with great teachers, he has travelled the world, he has competed in very important cello competitions, so he is part of the international classical music scene, and this is hard for a Colombian.”

His second pick is Cuarteto Q-Arte. This group of teachers from the Universidad Nacional are a string quartet focused on Latin American music. “This is not a new idea in Latin America. But here in Colombia, it wasn’t expected that they would be successful and they have founded a string quartet festival. The connections they make with Mexico, with Chicago, this is outstanding.”

Last but not least, “Edwin Guevarra, he’s a guitarist. In a way, he is in the middle of the other two: he is based in Bogotá, he teaches and has a huge impact on his students. He also has a very fine technique; very delicate, very clean.”

Philip Glass review: World premiere of joyous ‘Perpetulum’

November 10, 2018
by Howard Reich

“…virtuosity and extroverted spirit…”

“…Glass wrote the piece so meticulously – and TCP articulated it so crisply – that every note, phrase and line rang out lucidly.”

“A sense of joy pervaded all this music, thanks to the intricately interlocking figures Glass wrote and TCP’s fastidious execution of them.”

The listeners who packed Francis W. Parker School’s auditorium on Friday evening encountered Philip Glass in three guises: pianist, composer and raconteur.

Two of them were quite appealing.

Glass, 81, came at the invitation of the Chicago Humanities Festival and Third Coast Percussion, a Chicago ensemble that commissioned the composer to do something he’d never done before: write a stand-alone work for percussion quartet.

The prospect of hearing a world premiere of a potentially significant opus by Glass, who next month will pick up a Kennedy Center Honor, explains why the event long had been sold out. This intense degree of interest proved justified, for the 21-minute work was the evening’s high point, by far.

Structured in three continuous movements, with a cadenza between the second and third, Glass’ “Perpetulum” crystallized the best features of his compositional language: rhythmic propulsion, ever-shifting tone colors and easy accessibility. You don’t need to be conversant in serial technique or, for that matter, most of the Western classical canon to respond to Glass’ pulsing rhythms and vivid timbres.

But “Perpetulum” was much more than just the repetitive drones that render some of Glass’ work underwhelming at best, numbing at worst. This was a score rich in musical incident, its meters and textures constantly changing, its embrace of pitched and non-pitched instrumentation immensely appealing to hear.

The work opened with telegraphic, Morse Code-like figurations from TCP ensemble member and executive director David Skidmore, whose colleagues entered the proceedings one by one on a battery of instruments. Drums, chimes, cymbals and more were the vehicles for all this sound, yet Glass wrote the piece so meticulously – and TCP articulated it so crisply – that every note, phrase and line rang out lucidly.

A dreamier, more lyrical slow movement offered shards of melody wrapped in layers of rhythm, a stark contrast to what had come before, and a most appealing one, at that. If I correctly identified the start of the cadenza, which was penned not by Glass but by members of TCP, it was recognizable not only for its virtuosity and extroverted spirit but also by what came next: the classic driving rhythms that are Glass’ stock in trade.

A sense of joy pervaded all this music, thanks to the intricately interlocking figures Glass wrote and TCP’s fastidious execution of them. You just had to smile throughout this performance. It’s easy to see “Perpetulum” becoming a signature piece for TCP and, sooner or later, being performed by percussion ensembles everywhere.

Skidmore interviewed the composer onstage immediately before the “Perpetulum” premiere, saying he couldn’t find the title word anywhere via his Google searches. Glass explained that he was from Baltimore, where a lot of things “are made up,” and, true to form, so was the word, which Glass said he coined as a fusion of “perpetual” and “momentum.”

He added that he felt “Perpetulum” had a “symphonic feeling” to it, and that once he decided to include a cadenza, the piece became “almost like a concerto for quartet.”

The composer also reminisced on his years, long ago, as a student at the University of Chicago. This was when “Adlai Stevenson was running for president,” said Glass, looking out at the audience.

“Does anybody remember that, besides me?”

Judging by the murmurs in the house, a few did.

Glass also marveled at his career as a musician.

“I had no expectation that by the age of 41 or 42 I would be able to make a living” in music, said Glass, who for years drove a cab and took on other day jobs to pay the bills.

And he urged other composers to do as he had done, publishing and releasing his music himself, thereby retaining ownership.

“As long as you’re the author, you’re the owner, unless you give it away,” said Glass. “And there’s no reason to give it away.”

The evening opened with its weakest component, Glass as solo pianist, playing his “Mad Rush” (which, alas, was neither mad nor rushed). How much one appreciated this performance depended entirely on one’s patience for rhythmic repetition, harmonic stasis and simplistic pianism.

Mine ran out after about the first 32 bars (there were hundreds more to come).

Fortunately, “Perpetulum” was in the offing.