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

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.

Third Coast Percussion tackle a Philip Glass commission—and the ‘great composer’ problem

November 7, 2018
by Kerry O’Brien

Many, many thanks to Kerry O’Brien for this wonderful feature article about our newest commission: Perpetulum, Philip Glass’s first-ever work for percussion ensemble. We had a fantastic world premiere on November 9 at the Chicago Humanities Festival and can’t wait to take Perpetulum on the road. Read excerpts from Kerry’s insightful feature here, or read the whole article to learn more about Philip, the history of minimalist music, our own commissioning process, and how Perpetulum came to be. Thanks again to Kerry and the Chicago Reader!

Philip Glass arrives in town this Friday to appear as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival, but he’s no stranger to the city. He first came here in 1952 to begin his undergraduate studies at the University of Chicago at the prodigious age of 15He remembers sitting outside jazz clubs like the Beehive in Hyde Park, too young to be admitted, listening to bebop waft out the door.

Almost seven decades later, Glass is arguably America’s most famous living composer and considered something of a national treasure—in 2015, Obama awarded him the National Medal of Arts. He’s using his current visit to Chicago to correct an oversight of long standing. Though he’s well-known for composing, performing, and thereby defining “minimalist” music, Glass has somehow never before written for the minimalist ensemble par excellence: the percussion ensemble.

Prompted by a commission from Third Coast Percussion—the Chicago quartet of David Skidmore, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin, and Sean Connors—Glass will present the world premiere of his first-ever work for percussion ensemble during a CHF event at the Francis W. Parker School. The evening will begin with a solo piano performance by Glass, followed by a discussion between Glass and Skidmore and Third Coast’s debut of the three-part, 20-minute Perpetulum.

Glass’s style of minimalism, which he once called music of “repetitive structures,” is unmistakable once you’ve heard it. Typified early in its history by his group the Philip Glass Ensemble—which used mostly amplified winds, keyboards, and voices—it’s characterized by rising-and-falling pulsed patterns, steady rhythms, meditative passages of harmonic stasis, and nonstop melodic momentum.

Over the years Glass’s trademark arpeggios have permeated pop culture as well as the classical sphere. He’s written a long list of film scores—KoyaanisqatsiCandymanThe Truman ShowThe Hours—and made an infamous fictionalized cameo on South Park. “The thing about Philip Glass is that he’s been part of the fabric of music and culture for so long,” says Martin. “I knew who Philip Glass was from just watching movies—I remember seeing Candyman in the mid-1990s. He’s been part of everything, so in that sense, his aesthetic and musical voice probably has been a part of Third Coast Percussion for a much longer time.”

For Martin and the other members of Third Coast, their first deep dive into Glass came when they were students in the 1990s and encountered his landmark 1976 opera, Einstein on the Beach. “I had a very hip high school music theory teacher who just kinda blew our minds one day,” says Skidmore. “She was like, ‘There’s this opera by this guy named Philip Glass,’ and she just hit play.” Connors admits that he downloaded this minimalist classic in the dial-up days of Napster—and given that it’s more than three hours long, even in its abbreviated recordings, that must have taken forever.

The 81-year-old Glass comes to Chicago in the midst of a busy performance schedule (which may help explain why he didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment). In late October, he and his ensemble played his three-and-a-half-hour mid-70s masterpiece Music in 12 Parts at New York’s Town Hall, followed last week by a sold-out run of his 1980 opera Satyagraha at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, which he attended on opening night. Sometimes Glass seems to have done it all already—he’s written for myriad musical legends, among them the Kronos Quartet and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which will premiere his Symphony no. 12 in January 2019. But Third Coast Percussion found something he hadn’t done—and more important, they persuaded him to do it.

Commissioning Philip Glass is part of a larger initiative for Third Coast Percussion. As they look back at the history of Western classical music, it’s tempting to wonder, says Skidmore, what kind of percussion quartet the likes of Stravinsky or Bartók might have written. It’s a torturous counterfactual thought experiment, and everyone has their own dream list (just imagine if Julius Eastman or Maryanne Amacher had written one). Dillon adds: “We look at all the great composers who, if they had written a percussion ensemble piece—if someone had asked them or hounded them to write a percussion quartet—how much different would our whole genre be?”

The commission did require persistence—Third Coast reached out to Glass for “years and years and years.” A composer of Glass’s stature must be commissioned long in advance, so Perpetulum has been brewing for some time. Skidmore believes the key was being “patient and friendly but insistent,” and that patience was possible, he notes, because Third Coast are an established group with a functional development infrastructure—the processes to sustain the ensemble long-term are up and running, which means they can plan far into the future while projects seeded years ago come to fruition in the present.

Perpetulum (a hybrid word suggesting both “perpetual” and “pendulum”) wasn’t delivered already done but instead arose from collaboration between Glass and Third Coast. This began in April 2017, when the composer met with Skidmore while in town for a Chicago Opera Theater production of his The Perfect American. After that initial meeting, Glass and Third Coast maintained frequent dialogue. “He calls pretty regularly, actually, to talk through revisions,” says Skidmore. “We’ll go back and forth. He’ll send a new idea, his copyist will try it out, we’ll record it, he’ll call and ask what we think.”

Skidmore sees Perpetulum as an interesting way to graft keyboard percussion sounds (marimba, vibraphone) onto Glass’s approach to percussion in his symphonies. “His percussion writing up until recently has been very focused on traditional orchestral percussion instruments—snare drum, bass drum, triangle, tambourine—and these kind of motor rhythms, in symphonies especially,” he says. Glass has long written for keyboards (piano, organ), but not for keyboard percussion. As Martin says, “This is not early Glass music at all,” but it’s continuous with that style in that “there’s a lot of energy throughout the piece.”

Friday’s concert has long been sold out, but Perpetulum will be released in March 2019 via Glass’s label, Orange Mountain Music, on an album that also includes Gavin Bryars’s The Other Side of the River and multiple new works by Third Coast. Dillon says these pieces “reflect the influence of Glass but also connect a bit to our roles as composer-performers.”

Third Coast see objections to working with Glass as representing a false choice—such a project doesn’t prevent them from also nurturing up-and-comers. The Emerging Composers Partnership, launched in 2013, uses an open call to solicit works by lesser-known composers—Third Coast’s website says its aim is to “provide the Chicago contemporary music scene with premieres of works from the brightest rising stars in the composing community” and to promote “inclusive commissioning of new music.”

The composers who apply for this program aren’t well-known today, but they might be the greats of tomorrow. “It’s a very intimate thing that we’re doing—it’s not a cattle call,” says Connors. “It’s two people per season, so it’s really building a relationship, and then we become partners with them forever. They’ll be in our network, we’ll be their big supporters, and hopefully we’ll work with them in the future.”

By commissioning Glass while piloting their Emerging Composers Partnership, Third Coast both participate in and help write the history of percussion music. “One of the big points of that partnership is to find new voices and to encourage them . . . to not only write music, but percussion music,” Skidmore says. “Some of the people who we are able to work with in the ECP will one day be the next Meredith Monk, Philip Glass, Devonté Hynes, whoever. And how cool is it that at the onset of their career they’re asked for percussion, that that becomes a part of their voice early on? So there’s also an aspect of cultivating a future of composition in percussion.”

Third Coast’s Glass premiere is historic, and with any luck it will amplify their urgently needed efforts to encourage inclusivity. As with any such project, though, the important work is collaborative and ongoing.

Philip Glass and Third Coast Percussion launch a world premiere for Humanities Fest

November 6, 2018
by Howard Reich

Come Friday night, Chicago-based Third Coast Percussion will make a bit of music history.

For as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival,the unconventional quartet will play the world premiere of Philip Glass’ “Perpetulum,” which the ensemble commissioned.

Not that it’s easy to get a composer of Glass’ stature to write music for you.

“We kind of never dreamed he would actually say yes,” explains TCP ensemble member and executive director David Skidmore.

“We hoped he would, of course.”

Why Glass?

“One of the really important artistic missions for our organization is commissioning iconic composers – composers who are in the history books already and still writing music,” explains Skidmore.

“Because no one asked Bartok to write a percussion quartet, no one asked Stravinsky to write a percussion quartet, no one asked Shostakovich to write a percussion quartet.

If we don’t ask them,” adds Skidmore, referring to today’s giants, “maybe no one will ask them.”

“Asking Philip was crucial. It doesn’t even do justice to say we’ve been fans. He has been a part of the musical landscape, his influence in music of so many other composers we play and so many bands we listen to seemed like such a natural fit.”

Indeed, one would be hard-pressed to name many non-commercial composers who have reached a wider audience than Glass. But considering that, at 81, the man still tours the world constantly and cannot possibly fulfill more than a fraction of all the commissions he’s offered, one wonders why he agreed to write for a percussion quartet, of all things.

“It’s a high-end percussion outfit – they’re very good players,” says Glass, singing TCP’s praises.

“These are not people who get together on the weekend to play. These are people who are devoted.”

That they are, as evidenced by TCP’s brisk touring schedule and long list of commissions, including works by stylistically far-flung composers such as Augusta Read Thomas and Glenn Kotche.

In the case of “Perpetulum,” the musicians came up with an intriguing way of bringing the new work to life.

“I didn’t consult them on the music,” says Glass. “I simply wrote the piece. The way it worked was I would send the music, and they would record it and send it back to me. If they had ideas about some of the playing, they could show me what they wanted to do. That went on for maybe five or six weeks.”

Or, as Skidmore puts it, “He’s a consummate professional. As busy as he is, he turned in the score when he said he would, which is not something I would say for some of his peers. The score showed up, we read through it and recorded it and sent it to him.”

They repeated the process several times, as Glass refined the piece.

As for the structure of the work, “I went at it in a different way than most people might,” says Glass. “I assigned each of the players a certain number of instruments that they could play, so there shouldn’t be a lot of running around on the stage.

“The other thing I was interested in was approaching it as an orchestration issue as well as a compositional one. In other words, you have all these different instruments that are available to them, and, as with an orchestra, that doesn’t meant you’re using them all the time. … There are some that become more dominant.”

Glass adds that he left space for a TCP cadenza, “because I wanted them to have a crack at the music by themselves. I suggested they take some the thematic material and develop it themselves.”

Which is exactly what they’ve done, says Skidmore, who with his colleagues decided to write out the cadenza rather than improvise it.

Though Skidmore and friends were surprised that Glass took on the project, the composer says he was eager to do so.

“I had to wait a long time before anyone asked me to do this,” says Glass. “I would have done it any time.”

Friday’s program will begin with Glass playing solo piano, followed by an onstage interview with Skidmore and, finally, the “Perpetulum” world premiere, with Glass as listener, not performer.

Then the composer will be off to his next engagement, the musician still maintaining a remarkably busy itinerary.

“I’m slowing down – I’ve been on the road for 50 years – I’m going to spend more time writing,” promises Glass, whose nonmusical writing won him the Tribune Literary Award in 2016 for his engaging autobiography, Words Without Music: A Memoir.

“For me, airplane travel has become extremely difficult,” adds Glass. “It’s not comfortable, the whole security routine is annoying at the very least. … I’m tired of the onerous nature of the activity. So I’m going to cut it down somewhat. I’m still interested in playing; I’m just not going to do as much.”

Still, Glass has an especially important engagement coming up next month: He’ll receive a Kennedy Center Honor in Washington, D.C.

“I was totally surprised, but I was very pleased,” says Glass.

“I figure it’s important for concert music to be represented in these big things where we’re usually not represented,” he says of a prize that this year also will go to pop stars Cher and Reba McEntire, among others.

“There I am with them.”

Philip Glass and Third Coast Percussion perform at 7 p.m. Friday at Francis W. Parker School, 330 W. Webster Ave.; the event is sold-out, but callers can be added to a waiting list at 312-605-8444;

OU Wind Symphony to collaborate with Grammy Award-winning percussion ensemble

October 28, 2018
by Sydney Walters 

Ohio University is known for connecting its students to world-renowned groups and individuals, and the School of Music is next in line to provide such an opportunity. On Tuesday, the Ohio University Wind Symphony with be performing a concert with the Grammy Award-winning ensemble, Third Coast Percussion.

Third Coast Percussion is a quartet of percussionists from Chicago that also serves as the ensemble-in-residence at the University of Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. “We bring excellent performances of percussion music to audiences of all ages and backgrounds across the country and around the world,” David Skidmore, the executive director of Third Coast Percussion and an ensemble member, said in an email.

Skidmore said he hopes the ensemble shows students’ similar exciting performances to those he experienced when he was a student listening to professionals. “It was always thrilling when professional musicians were brought to campus so that we could see and hear examples of the types of performances that we might want to give,” Skidmore said in an email.

Andrew Trachsel, director of bands at Ohio University, said the students in the Wind Symphony will be benefiting significantly just from being around the performers in Third Coast Percussion. “Anytime that we can interact with the leaders in our profession, it can make us better,” he said. The students in the Wind Symphony also understand what they’re gaining from the collaboration. “We gain so much in terms of understanding what it takes to be a professional musician,” said Drew Koziel, a freshman studying music education and a trumpet player in the Wind Symphony.

Aside from the opportunities given to the musicians in the Wind Symphony, this performance promises to be a memorable one for the audience as well. The quartet will be opening the performance solo, with a performance of a piece by composer Steve Reich. They’ll then be joined by the Wind Symphony to perform a piece that Skidmore says is, “incredibly virtuosic and very beautiful.” During the second half, they’ll bring the audience a new listening experience with a piece by composer Donnacha Dennehy. “The audience-goers will get to see first-hand how Third Coast is making their sound,” Trachsel said.

Putting this collaboration together wasn’t easy, though. In 2015, Ohio University Bands and four other university bands got together to commission a band version of one of David Little’s previous pieces, “Radiant Child.” The original piece, ironically, was written for Third Coast Percussion four years prior. Trachsel viewed this as an opportunity to bring Third Coast Percussion to Ohio University to perform the piece with them.

Finding time for a Grammy-winning ensemble to come to the small town of Athens took a little time. Three years, to be exact. But the excitement from both groups is evident. “We love working with the percussion students at the school of music, and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity,” Skidmore said in an email.

If You Go:

What: Third Coast Percussion with Ohio University Wind Symphony
When: 7:30 p.m., Tues., October 30, 2018
Where: Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium
Admission: $8 for students; $13 for seniors; $15 for general admission


New York Times: 10 Dance Performances to See This Weekend

October 18, 2018
by Gia Kourlas

Thanks to the New York Times for including our performances with Seán Curran Company in “10 Dance Performances to See This Weekend”! We are looking forward to performing at BAM’s Next Wave Festival, October 24-27 at 7:30pm. If you’re in NYC, stop by and say hello!

SEAN CURRAN COMPANY AND THIRD COAST PERCUSSION at BAM Harvey Theater (Oct 24-27, 7:30 p.m.). Curran celebrates his company’s 20th anniversary with live music by Third Coast Percussion and, naturally, some dances. Along with two early works, “Abstract Concrete” (2000) and “Quadrabox Redux” (2001), the choreographer unveils the New York premiere of “Everywhere All the Time.” Featuring a set by the landscape architect Diana Balmori, who died in 2016, and percussion music by the Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy, “Everywhere” promises to be lively: Curran, a former member of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, started out as a traditional Irish step dancer.


Artistic Director Glenn Edgerton on Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

We are thrilled to get on the road with our long-time friends at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, presenting THERE WAS NOTHING / FOR ALL ITS FURY, a collaborative project more than five years in the making. Our first stop is Ann Arbor, MI, where we will perform with HSDC on one night of their two-night presentation: “Two Different Programs.” We will tour with HSDC to six more cities this year, including New York and L.A., but Ann Arbor is the only place where this dual performance will take place. Read this interview below with HSDC Artistic Director Glenn Edgerton to learn more about the company, about “Two Different Programs,” and about the inspiration for THERE WAS NOTHING choreographers Movement Art Is (Jon Boogz and Lil Buck) and FOR ALL ITS FURY choreographer Emma Portner.

Catch the next performance of THERE WAS NOTHING / FOR ALL ITS FURY, part of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s
“Two Different Programs”.
October 20, 8:00pm
Power Center, Ann Arbor, MI.
“Two Different Programs” is presented by the University Musical Society.
Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.

Art is a valuable source of individual expression, but it’s an equally important force for social change. Towering murals on the streets of Detroit, songs sung by political dissonants and defiant protest art painted onto cracked cardboard for the March for Our Lives are testaments to this. Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, in collaboration with the University Musical Society (UMS), returns to the Power Center this fall with “Two Different Programs,” to use contemporary dance as their personal appeal for action.

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago was founded in 1977 and is in its 9th season under the artistic direction of Glenn Edgerton. The modern dance company molds their dance around changing social issues and is known for providing collaborative opportunities with up-and-coming artists. “Two Different Programs” is no exception.

Oct. 19 presents “Decadance/Chicago,” a collaboration with iconic Israel-based choreographer Ohad Naharin, known for his distinct gaga style of dance and his famous piece “Minus 16.” Oct. 20 brings 23-year-old viral choreographer Emma Portner and Movement Art Is, an organization that aims to use movement as a form of social education. Live music from Grammy-winning group Third Coast Percussion and a composition by Devonté Hynes adds an innovative touch to Saturday’s performance.

In a phone interview with The Daily, Glenn Edgerton further illuminated on Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s fall program and his time as an artistic director.


The Michigan Daily: What makes Hubbard Street Dance Chicago unlike other dance companies?

GE: The dancers are incredible. They bring a beautiful sense of movement quality and technical ability, mixed with great imagination and thought-provoking intention. We also give opportunities to emerging choreographers, and this, mixed with our dancers, gives a great opportunity for choreographers to improve their imagination. But we’re not just a dance company: We have a huge education program. We also teach to autistic children and people with Parkinson’s. They’re dancers in their own right. These classes make our mission very satisfying; we feel like we’re making a difference in the dance world.

TMD: Given your prior background as a professional dancer with the Nederlands Dans Theater, what drew you to directing?

GE: As a dancer, I was always aware of my directors and curious of why choices were made. I specifically remember, as a dancer, you’re very consumed with your individual performance or role. I wanted to expand my mindset but stay in the same art form. Directing is something I’ve always wanted to do; as a child, I was putting on shows in my garage and selling tickets for a quarter. Putting on a performance is something I’ve always done.

TMD: One of the choreographers you highlight in this fall program is Ohad Naharin, an artist you’ve worked with frequently. What has it been like working with him all these years?

GE: I’ve known Ohad for 30 years and it gives me great satisfaction to have my dancers take part in such significant work. ‘Decadence Chicago,’ the piece choreographed especially for our company, is a wonderful journey from beginning to end.

TMD: Do you think it has become easier for your dancers to work with Naharin’s style over the years?

GE: Absolutely. We’ve performed so many of his works, between ‘Minus 16’ in 2000 and ‘Decadence Chicago’ in 2018. In those 18 years, we’ve had a new work from Ohad every two or three years. That development and investment is wonderful to see.

TMD: Your second performance includes Emma Portner; what has it been like working with such an emerging artist?

GE: She’s incredibly imaginative. She’s recently got into a whole concept of environmental issues, so her participation in this evening includes her feelings towards the Earth, how to make it sustainable and how we treat each other through our connection with the Earth. I love finding new choreographers that are just at the brink of starting their career. Emma is now booming and is being sought after all over; she (has) dabbled in so many different areas already at such a young age.

TMD: Movement Art Is is also focused on our relationship with the environment. Would you say the combination of Emma Portner and Movement Art Is has made Saturday’s performance take on an environmental theme?

GE: Yes, it has. Movement Art Is participated in the Standing Rock Pipeline Protest, and they’re depicting the narrative they learned from an Indian tribe in North Dakota through their dance. It’s unusual to see these hip-hop artists (Jon Boogz and Lil Buck), known for their style of juking and popping and locking, to go into a creative narrative piece.

TMD: Do you think Third Coast Percussion has fit well with your company’s style?

GE: I’ve wanted to work with them for many years. We’re of like mind: We’re both open-minded and collaborative. We’re flexible and can go with ideas that have been thrown out and enhance them instead.

TMD: As an artistic director, where does your inspiration come from?

GE: It comes from all over. It can be from a conversation, something I’ve read, a video, a movie. My intent artistically is to keep the company relevant. ‘What’s going on in the moment?’ is always something I ask myself. We’re forever evolving and changing — sometimes you hit the mark and sometimes you don’t. We’re an experimental company and we’re always going to be exploring what’s next.

TMD: What are you expecting from this Ann Arbor crowd?

GE: I’d like the public to walk away and still be thinking about the piece. I want them to feel something beyond just that moment. I don’t want them to leave and hear someone saying to their friend, ‘What do you want to eat for dinner?’ They should still resonate with the work days after the performance.

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago presents “Two Different Programs”:
“Decadence/Chicago” and “THERE WAS NOTHING / FOR ALL ITS FURY”
October 19-20, 8:00pm
Power Center, Ann Arbor, MI.
“Two Different Programs” is presented by the University Musical Society.
Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.



Review | Seán Curran, Third Coast Percussion

October 6, 2018
by Michael Huebner

It’s hard to imagine a more integrated merger of dance and percussion than that presented Friday at the Alys Stephens Center.

Two dynamic ensembles, each a powerful force in their respective art forms, combined for two retrospective works, then let loose in a world premiere with boundless expression.

No stranger to premieres, the New York-based dance troupe Seán Curran Company has presented 27 of them around the world, according to its web site. Third Coast Percussion, by its very nature, has commissioned a long list of composers on its way to a 2017 Grammy award.

“Everywhere All the Time,” an ASC commission, was presented for the first time at this event, and represented an expansive departure from the two works presented earlier in the program, each reworkings from 2000 and 2001.

Three large movable gates, adorned with black patterns suggestive of woody vines, pervaded “Everywhere.” They were a kind of abstract scenery, their placement defining the varying moods of Seán Curran’s choreography. Sheer windblown costumes suggested underwater movement as the cast of nine “swam” about the stage. The percussionists – two on stage, two in the balcony – began by exploring a variety of tom-toms in Donnacha Dennehy‘s score, “Surface Tension.”

As the sonic atmosphere shifted gears, so did the choreography. Startling percussive bursts and eerie harmonics from bowed metal bars led to greater freedom from the individual dancers, showcasing their fluid, yet rigorous athleticism. During a frenetic solo dance, each dancer exited the stage in tense, dramatic moments, leaving only contemplation. Only then could viewers realize how fully engaged they were.

“Abstract Concrete,” a new incarnation of a Curran work first created in 2000, began the show, presenting 10 dancers lined up in rows and dressed in brightly colored leotards. Branching out, weightless lifts and impeccably precise ensemble reflected the youthful rhythmic and emotional character of TCP and David Skidmore’s score. Quick, stage-wide movement, together with outstretched limbs and a web of interwoven patterns, contributed to the joyful atmosphere.

Even more ebullient was “Quadrabox Redux,” also a revision of an earlier dance. Four dancers sitting on wooden boxes in a remarkably complex display of hand percussion, with some foot moves thrown in. Call it patty-cake on steroids.

The program and New York premiere of “Everywhere All the Time” will take place Oct. 24-27 at the Harvey Theatre, Brooklyn Academy of Music, part of BAM’s 2018 Next Wave Festival.


Season 41 Fall Series Review- Hubbard Street Dance Chicago with Third Coast Percussion

September 28, 2018
by Debra Davy

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago presented a strong and stirring modern collaboration of music, choreography, spoken word, dance, and percussive performance at its Season 41 Fall Series opener on September 27th, 2018. The program is to be repeated September 29th and 30that the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 East Randolph Street, Chicago.

This double World Premiere of dance featured live music on stage a by 2016 Grammy-award winning Chicago-based musical marvels Third Coast Percussion, who are incidentally ensemble-in-residence at Notre Dame University. The 4 virtuoso rhythmists (Sean Connors, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin and David Skidmore) interacted with each other, multiple instruments and trays of tuned objects during the entire evening’s engagement including starring in an orchestral interlude called Perfectly Voiceless in-between the 2 dance works.

All the music was composed by British pop icon Devonté Hynes (aka Blood Orange), arranged/interpreted by Third Coast Percussion, and it was all of a piece- ethereal, sonic- spacey, throbbing and intensely cerebral; in a word, mesmerizing.

The new dances in premiere were choreographed by Emma Portner and Lil Buck/Jon Boogz, the latter known as Movement Art Is. The program this Fall is a joint exhibition of their mission to meld art forms and highlight social issues.

 The Movement Art Is piece, up first, entitled There Was Nothingis a hyper-hip creation myth. Set around a campfire, performed to a voice-over recitation of original poetry written and intoned by spoken word artist Robin Sanders, it found the dancers popping, jooking and robotically elegantly über-break dancing. A wonderfully clever and sophisticated dance, it served as a showpiece for the choreographers’ ultra-modern integrated interplay of body dynamics.

The Portner piece, entitled For All Its Fury, was a long performance, connected by images of mushrooms incorporated on the backdrop, in riveting featured dancer Rena Butler’s dappled costume and in the largely unrecognizable intoned words of the poem “Mushrooms” by Sylvia Plath. The choreographer also employed certain rather prosaic props- a bottle, a cane, that were, like the fungus artwork, largely unnecessary. The point here is that there was no need for extraneous “unifiers”; the movement and in particular, the music were universal enough to tie together the combinations.

There was a lot happening on stage. In both pieces, the dancers were grouped in various ways, in several sets of costumes including- in the Portner piece- what looked like elastic bandage connecting threads. Through it all, the sinuous and technically stunning Hubbard Street dancers proved that, once again, there are no movements too complex, too “out-there” for them to execute with finesse. While Portner’s choreography has an improvisational spirit, it is very technically complicated and it takes a lot of risks. To tether a group of dancers together and have them slither across a stage behind gigantic draped banners is to be very sure of one’s vision, or very young- Portner is both.

In fact, the positioning of Third Coast Percussion on stage was nothing less than a stroke of genius, as they were at once collaborators, scene-stealers, part of the scenery, part of the action. The dances seemed to be visualizations of the music. If the stated emphasis of this program was to incorporate new ideas with socially responsible ideals, the diverse nature of the creators, performers, and palettes certainly went a long way toward achieving that goal.

Kudos is very much due to the fantastic, spot-on spotlights and strobes of lighting designer Jim Frenchand the organically clever costumes of Hogan McLaughlin.