Press Materials

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Praise

“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

“Vibrant…superb”
-Alex Ross, The New Yorker

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

“The group performed with absolute aplomb”
-Boston Globe

“Marvelous”
-Chicago Tribune

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

“Brilliant”
-Independent (UK)

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

“Hard-grooving”
-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

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.

 

 

 


Hubbard Street Dance’s latest has a nod to mushrooms and a message about Mother Earth

September 28, 2018
by Chris Jones

Hubbard Street’s Season 41 Fall Series asks a lot of its audience: The new environmentalist collaboration between the choreographers Emma Portner, Lil Buck and Jon Boogz runs close to 90 minutes without a break, a relative rarity in the world of contemporary dance.

Alas, there is no discreet exit from the Harris Theater, and thus the price paid by that decision Thursday night was a stream of people heading variously and loudly for the exit, all the way up to the top of the theater. They were missing a very interesting collage of diverse talents, given that the original music here was composed by Devonté Hynes (aka Blood Orange) and performed live by Chicago’s Third Coast Percussion.

I suspect the artists, most of whom are new to Hubbard Street, wanted to encourage their viewers to make sustained narrative connections about their stated theme of sustainability (and our lack of attention thereto). An inspiration, the artists have said, was Paul Stamets’ book “Mycelium Running,” the thesis of which involves us growing more mushrooms so as to harness the rejuvenating benefits of the fungus parts known as mycelium, weapons in the environmental battle against deforestation, toxic waste and other human-caused debasements of our precious Earth.

That’s not easy to translate into physical movement, but these three young artists certainly manage to intensely express the strange intersectional role played by the human body — at once part of the natural landscape but also the source of its corruption. That compelling ambivalence resonates throughout the piece.

There is text: original poetry performed by Robin Sanders in the Boogz and Lil Buck piece called “There Was Nothing” and, in Portner’s piece, Sylvia Plath’s “Mushrooms” (in an interesting irony, it is noted that the sponsor of the piece is Conagra Brands Foundation). But at least as it reached my ear, the text is indistinct and it was hard to know whether it was intended to interplay with the movement on an equal level or function more as stylized wallpaper. That’s a choice needing to be made.

Similarly, there’s more work yet to do on how to order the space. The Third Coast maestros take up a lot of room, sometimes crunching the incomparable Hubbard Street dancers around their instruments. How the former is meant to interact with the latter is not yet clear — the presence of live musicians always is a gift, but so forceful a visual presence necessitates decisions on deeper, in-the-moment matters.

To encapsulate all of that: The program is intellectually rigorous and largely meets the challenge of connecting dancer to dust, the stuff to which we all will return. But it still needs to find how to breathe.


Hubbard Street’s Percussion-Driven Experiment Probes Heaven and Hell on Earth

September 28, 2018
by Hedy Weiss

Just hours after a high-stakes drama unfolded Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, D.C. (and around the world), Hubbard Street Dance Chicago brought up the lights on its interlocking three-part fall season program that harkened back to the creation of the universe and the ascent of man and then proceeded to conjure an apocalyptic vision of where it all went wrong.

The entire undertaking took 80 intermissionless minutes of stage time, but the final section of the work began to feel like an exercise in eternity.

The Hubbard Street dancers are never less than flawless in their execution of whatever they are given by one choreographer or another. And in this case, the opening work by Jon Boogz and Lil Buck (the co-founders of Movement Art Is, or MAI), which included a partly audible text and a scene of placard-carrying protestors whose posters were blank, held a certain fascination. But the third section of the work, choreographed by Emma Portner – and focused largely on ghoulish scenes of torture and violent power plays with an Orwellian quality – quickly grew tedious in its repetitiveness. And its final section, suggesting a return of human connection, meandered endlessly to no effect.

Without question, the real reason to catch this concert is to hear Chicago’s extraordinary, altogether virtuosic, Grammy Award-winning Third Coast Percussion ensemble playing the hugely complex and evocative original compositions by Devonté Hynes, the British-born composer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist of African heritage who, not surprisingly (just listen to his repeat-till-it-changes riffs) has performed alongside Philip Glass at the Kennedy Center.

Watching the four musicians of Third Coast (Sean Connors, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin and David Skidmore) as they play vibraphones, drums, woodblocks, bells and more in the most dazzling synchrony and counterpoint, as their mallets catch the light, and as they wheel their instruments into various formations, is a fascinating, precision-tooled ballet all its own. (The quartet previously collaborated with Hubbard Street on Jiri Kylian’s thrilling work, “Falling Angels.”)

“There Was Nothing,” the opening work by Boogz and Buck, begins around a little triangle of fire as we hear a narrative about the explosion of forces that gradually led to the universe as we know it, with the arrival of Adam and Eve roughly reiterated in the style of the Genesis telling. Of course it isn’t long before all that is Eden-like erupts into destruction. (The overall program is said to have been inspired by Paul Stamets’ book, “Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World,” about how fungi can save the environment.)

The fluid, organic movement of the dancers (Craig D. Black Jr., Jacqueline Burnett, Gaby Diaz, Michael Gross, Adrienne Lipson, David Schultz, Kevin J. Shannon and the always animated Alicia Delgadillo) possessed the usual Hubbard Street magic.

Third Coast had the stage to itself for the evening’s second section, “Perfectly Voiceless,” during which it conjured a heavenly constellation of sound.

Drumming, strobe lights and the descent of three black and white panels (by David Kim) depicting sculptural forms suggestive of worn canes or other weapons, announced the arrival of Portner’s “For All Its Fury.”

At the center of the work is the technically powerful and superbly expressive dancer, Rena Butler, who becomes witness to a most grotesque escalation of violence, bondage and torture, involving canes, and plastic bags used like hoods, and an endless sequence in which the dancers are entangled in a sort of cat’s cradle of stretchy bands. Man’s inhumanity to man? OK, got it. But it goes on far beyond the point of choreographic interest or emotional caring. And then, in a final section, which feels tacked on and shapeless, there is a kind of return to human connection. (Most of the spoken words in the piece were essentially inaudible.)

In addition to the riveting Butler, the dancers (costumed in mushroom brown tunics) included the petite, intense Kellie Epperheimer, Andrew Murdock, Connie Shiau, Elliot Hammans, Florian Lochner, Alysia Johnson and Black. And Jim French’s dramatic lighting is effective throughout the evening.

Again, the primary reason to catch this program is to watch and listen to Third Coast Percussion in action. Both they and the Hubbard Street dancers deserve far more interesting choreography.

 


Reaching for the Light: A Review of Hubbard Street Dance Fall Series

September 28, 2018
by Sharon Hoyer

Those seeking light hearted diversion from our present moment, turn elsewhere. For their Fall Series, Chicago’s leading contemporary dance company commissioned works—which unfolded as one evening-length collaboration—from young, emerging choreographers around themes of the physical and political environment. The resulting theater was potent, urgent and, with opening night falling on a particularly emotionally turbulent day in the news cycle, highly topical.

The collaboration included an extraordinary performance of compositions by Devonté Hynes from Third Coast Percussion, who, from a row of xylophones, gongs, bells and bowls flanking the stage, poured a ceaseless river of sound through the Harris Theater from well before the lights came up to after the curtain fell. The scene opened on “There Was Nothing,” a vision of creation as imagined by Lil Buck and Jon Boogz, the creative partnership known as Movement Art Is. Boogz and Buck are street dancers by trade, their movement style an impossibly complex orchestration of simultaneous isolations and waves within a single body that teases the eye and defies the brain. Once again, the Hubbard Street dancers showcased their superhuman versatility, taking to the tremendously detailed and difficult movement language as if it were part of the regular Hubbard Street vocabulary. Spoken word by Robin Sanders played at intervals, narrating a tale of a fecund Mother Earth whose beloved creation grows selfish and destructive, taking us from the formation of continents to blueprints and business meetings in minutes. We see forests rise from a clump of four dancers, humankind evolve from ape in two steps across the stage, a moment in the garden of Eden in a single glance. Then, in the blink of an eye (in keeping with geologic time), on with the clothing, out with the cell phones, the knit brows and strife. Mankind—at least the segment of it clad in a suit—turns its back on the Earth to hunch angrily over a phone, but does look up to observe a row of protestors marching downstage. The piece ends with six dancers holding blank signs, upon which you may imagine your own statement.

With no break, Third Coast Percussion continued into “Perfectly Voiceless,” a roughly ten minute musical interlude that picked up the momentum of the first piece and carried it seamlessly into Emma Portner’s “For All Its Fury,” which opens with thunderous drums and lightening flashes. Mycologist Paul Stament’s book “Mycelium Running” provided inspiration for the piece, as does Sylvia Plath’s poem “Mushrooms,” an ode to a quiet, unstoppable power of those oppressed. Three painted banners hang vertically from the flies to the floor and seven dancers weave through them, poking out heads and limbs at various heights. One dancer remains in view at all times, the only one dressed in a costume that will not change through the three sections of the piece. The movements of the group of seven are anxious, scuttling; they are a hive mind with odd moments of fraction. A few commonplace props appear and reappear: a cane, a plastic bag, a glass bottle which causes much to do. Portner’s vision is at times surreal, at times uncomfortably and, if you’re willing to go there, deliciously weird. She does not shy away from troubling images, conflict and partner work that toes the line of violence. In the second section the group of seven have changed into luminescent white unitards and are bound together by a web of elastic. They pull against one another, taking a very long time to move from stage right to center, the struggle prolonged, repetitive; progress is incremental in the extreme. The plastic bag periodically goes over a head and I, too, felt suffocated at moments in “Fury.” There was little space to breathe; it’s as though Portner wanted to include everything possible, to cram each moment with as many urgent ideas as possible, to make us feel the heaviness of the moment through abundance.

After the intertwined dancers break their elastic bands, there is a brief interlude between the solo dancer in constant costume and two of the percussionists; the stage empties except for these three, who walk slowly, ringing handbells in a tentative evocation. In the final section, the dancers, freed from their bonds, explode into broad, sweeping movements, clad in a variety of earth tones. They finish upstage, reaching upward, toward the light, and a painted backdrop of a giant mushroom.


Mycelium as Metaphor: A Preview of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s “Season 41 Fall Series” at the Harris

September 24, 2018
by Alyssa Motter

We are thrilled to be working again with the brilliant artists of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, performing live for their Fall Series September 27, 29 + 30 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. We have been planning this collaboration for almost 5 years! Check out this preview to learn more about the choreographers’ inspirations for the show and the messages they want to share. Click here to purchase tickets for the Chicago shows – but don’t worry if you don’t live here: the show will be touring nationally all season! Check our event schedule or our Facebook page to find the concerts near you.


Contemporary dance is categorically difficult to define. While the term broadly refers to dance occurring in the later half of the twentieth century, there is not a singular definition that encompasses the complex web of global forms, cross-disciplinary influences and historical contexts that drive the field forward as a whole. Described as a “functional catchall” by Moriah Evans, editor of Movement Research Performance Journal, the field of contemporary dance defies any sort of simple classification and is instead better conceptualized as a fungus. Yes, a fungus. The mycelium of a fungus, specifically, which is a sprawling network of subterranean, interconnected filaments from which nutrients are drawn. Made of living fibers, no point of origin, no central locus, contemporary dance, just like mycelium, does not start from anywhere or end anywhere, it simply grows from everywhere.

This seemingly random reference makes perfect sense in the context of Hubbard Street’s Fall Series, which is a composite of interwoven movement styles from across the expansive mycelial web that is contemporary dance. The evening, curated by HSDC Artistic Director Glenn Edgerton, is organized in three distinctive parts bound together by the music of Grammy-award winning Third Coast Percussion and the shared theme of sustainability.

The series begins with a new work by Movement Art Is, comprised of Jon Boogz, a choreographer known for his unique use of popping, and jookin ambassador Lil Buck. Buck specializes in the Memphis-born urban dance style, jookin, which is characterized by gravity-defying footwork and rapid body sequencing that makes one appear to hover and undulate with supernatural ease. Working together, Buck and Boogz aim to promote positive social change through dance. Inspired by their firsthand account at the Standing Rock Dakota Access Pipeline protests, Buck and Boogz employ eight highly skilled Hubbard Street dancers to communicate about socio-environmental issues related to DAPL. “We hope this piece inspires people to appreciate the planet, appreciate our resources,” Boogz said in a recent interview, “and start to have a deeper rooted connection with Mother Earth again.”

As a musical interlude between the dances, Third Coast Percussion will perform a new composition by British composer Devonté Hynes (aka Blood Orange), who is lauded as one of the most influential and multifaceted voices in music. Hynes also composed the music for the latter work on the bill, a commission by internationally renowned choreographer and viral dance videomaker Emma Portner, who is the youngest women in documented history to have choreographed a musical in London’s West End.

Portner stretches the dexterity of eight dancers through her new work inspired by the bio processes of mycelium outlined in Paul Stamets’ book “Mycelium Running,” which is summarized in a TED Talk he gave in 2008. In the piece, the costumes, designed by Hogan McLaughlin, are integral to the choreography literally and figuratively. Bound together by strands of elastic mimicking mycelial filaments, the dancers’ movements create cascading interactions within the intertwined group as they morph and spread throughout the stage. Emblematic of mycelium and the field of contemporary dance at large, in Portner’s piece, when one dancer moves, the entire group is set in motion.

Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph, (312)334-7777. Thursday, September 27 at 7:30pm, Saturday, September 29 at 8:00pm and Sunday, September 30 at 3:00pm. $25-$110. Tickets: harristheater.org.


Seán Curran Company and Third Coast Percussion at UAB’s Alys Stephens Center Oct. 5

September 13, 2018
by Shannon Thomason

Seán Curran Company will opens its 20th anniversary season with its debut performance with Third Coast Percussion at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center.

For the performance, Curran and nine exceptional dancers look back at the company’s history, reimagining its hallmark “Abstract Concrete” from 2000, and look forward, continuing their investigation into human connections, relationships and universal truths with the world premiere of a piece commissioned by the Alys Stephens Center, “Everywhere All the Time.” The program includes live music by Grammy Award-winning ensemble Third Coast Percussion, who performed at the ASC in March 2018.

An “Inside the Arts” pre-performance talk is at 7 p.m. The performance is at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5. Tickets are $25, with $10 student tickets. Call 205-975-2787 or click here for tickets.

Percussion music has permeated Curran’s spirited, postmodern work. Its inherent rhythm serves as the beating heart of the robust “Abstract Concrete.” First performed at Central Park SummerStage in 2000, the work will be reimagined with original music by Third Coast Percussion and ensemble member David Skidmore. Mark Randall’s striking, timeless black and white visual design reveals unconventional couplings as Curran’s choreography seeks again and again to answer the question of how we define ourselves: who dances with whom; who pairs off; and who is left alone.

Delving deeper into these themes and excavating the primordial nature of percussion music, “Everywhere All the Time” contemplates the essential yet conflicted relationship of humans with the world. In increasingly polarized and tumultuous times, we are at once more interconnected and more solitary, on the verge of spiraling into collective loneliness. “Everywhere All the Time” includes music by celebrated Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy; clear tubing stretched from the musicians’ mouths to the head of the drums creates tension to stretch and change the sounds of percussion instruments in his innovative composition. Music is akin to weather – bombastic moments of thunder punctuate a sustained soundscape, acting as metaphor for an internal storm of emotions raging fitfully below the surface. Quiet moments – droplets, eddies – take on heightened meaning; a quartet flows across the stage recalling an ocean wave, as regular yet as visually and sonically arresting as the tides.

Seán Curran Company, which was founded in 1997, has presented 27 premieres and toured to more than 65 venues in the United States, France, Germany, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Turkmenistan. The company’s dancers are Elizabeth Coker, co-artistic director; David Gonsler, Jin Ju Song-Begin, Dwayne Brown, Maurice Ivy Dowell, Mariel Harris, Jacoby Pruitt and Lauren Kravitz, with guest artists Rebecca Arends and Evan Copeland.

For more than 10 years, Third Coast Percussion has forged a unique path in the musical landscape with virtuosic, energetic performances that celebrate the extraordinary depth and breadth of musical possibilities in the world of percussion.

 


Three Cheers for Third Coast Percussion

August 22, 2018
by Katie Griffiths

One of the highlights of our 2018-19 season is a collaboration with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, a project that we have been working to create for years now. This fantastic show will feature choreography by Emma Portner and Movement Art Is co-founders Jon Boogz and Lil Buck, as well as original music by Devonté Hynes (aka Blood Orange). We are looking forward to performing it in Chicago on September 27, 29, and 30, and across the country during the rest of the season. Katie Griffiths from Hubbard Street recently interviewed David about the project. Read the full interview below, or on Hubbard’s blog here.


Hubbard Street’s 40th Anniversary Season is coming to a close, but the excitement continues to build for Season 41. To start with a bang, the Fall Series brings together the viral Emma Portner; Jon Boogz and Lil Buck, co-founders of Movement Art Is; Devonté Hynes (aka Blood Orange); and last but certainly not least, Grammy Award-winning Third Coast Percussion. David Skidmore, one of the founding members, gives us a little insight on how dance and percussion work together, as well as what he’s most excited about for the Fall Series.

Have you ever worked with a dance company before?

“We’ve worked with Hubbard on a piece by Jiří Kylián called Falling Angels, with music by composer Steve Reich. We’re completely spoiled for life when it comes to working with dance companies.”

How do you create your music? Collaboratively or on your own?

“Everything we do is collaborative. Either the four of us in Third Coast Percussion collaborate on new work, or [we] work with a composer. We’ve also collaborated with engineers, architects, [and] now choreographers. We all love the collaborative process. We learn something new each time we work with someone.”

How was Third Coast Percussion formed?

“The four of us studied together under an incredible teacher named Michael Burritt. Mike instilled in us a love for percussion music, and we founded the group just after we graduated. That was about 13 years ago.”

How did you get involved with Hubbard Street?

“When Hubbard Street programmed Falling Angels, the choreographer expressed a preference for live music. The piece calls for four, classically-trained percussionists. We [were] one of two, full-time percussion quartets in the country, and we happened to be based in Chicago, so it was a natural fit. We had an immediate appreciation for every aspect of Hubbard Street. It’s an organization of incredible people dedicated to the highest artistic standards, and their work sits right at that crucial balance of entertaining and thought-provoking. So right away we started hinting at the idea of a bigger project together.

Do you have any background with dance?

“I was actually in a dance and percussion student group at Northwestern University called Boomshaka. It was a little bit like Stomp, only cooler. I cannot say that I ever came close to dancing at a professional level, but performing with that group did give me a deep appreciation for how to move on stage [and] how to communicate with your entire body — even when performing as a musician.”

Does dance influence your music?

“I think when you can get out of your own head and superego enough to let loose and move your body, you access an aspect of self-expression that is otherwise closed off. And all of us in Third Coast have to move so much to play our instruments. We move together on stage; that’s a huge part of what it takes to make music with four percussionists. So although we don’t call it dancing, we are coordinating the movement of our bodies to create performance art…which sounds a whole lot like dancing to me.”

What are you most looking forward to with the Fall Series?

“Learning a ton, being challenged, and coming up with an incredible evening of performance art to share with our favorite audience, right here at home in Chicago.”

Join us September 27, 29, and 30 at the Harris Theater to see Third Coast Percussion live, in action! Purchase your tickets here.

 


Album Review: Paddle to the Sea

June 30, 2018
by Graham Rickson

This is an enormously enjoyable album…the best percussion disc I’ve heard in ages.”

Musical material which might in some circumstances seem naïve or simplistic rarely does so when scored for percussion. Take a work like Reich’s Music for Pieces of Wood – who’d have imagined that the thwacking of different sized sticks could sound so cool? Chicago’s Third Coast Percussion have already recorded an impressive Reich CD, but this new one is based around something different. Paddle to the Sea is a suite composed collaboratively by the group’s players, designed to accompany showings of a 1966 film adaptation of an iconic children’s book about a toy canoe travelling from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a substantial, 33 minute work, a parade of enchanting watery vignettes. The pace ebbs and flows to match the watercourses traversed by the canoe, the mood veering between serenity and agitation. It’s enchanting, though would have been better still had there been a way to include the film as part of the package. I’ll search for it on YouTube.

Third Coast Percussion admit that their score allowed them “to pay homage to some artists that we admire”, and works by said influences are included as couplings. Philip Glass’s 12 Pieces for Ballet were arranged by a Brazilian ensemble and became Aguas da Amazonia. Four of them were adapted further by Third Coast, each named after the Amazon and three of its tributaries. Whereas Glass’s extended works often outstay their welcome, these four little pieces delight. Interspersed with the Glass are the six movements of Jacob Druckman’s epic solo marimba opus, Reflections on the Nature of Water, the playing duties shared between the group. Plus a transcription of a Zimbabwean melody, the original’s thumb piano textures now heard on marimba, shakers and vocals. This is an enormously enjoyable album – attractively designed and well-annotated. Cedille’s engineering is rich and vivid – this is the best percussion disc I’ve heard in ages.

Click here for the original article.


An Array of Percussion

“…[an] acutely sensitive approach to sound…”

June 25, 2018
by Pwyll ap Siôn

Gone are the days when percussion players would spend their time counting empty bars at the back of the orchestra. The percussion section now plays an integral part in any symphony orchestra’s sonic armoury. Yet the most exciting work continues to take place away from the conductor’s podium through percussion groups and ensembles. These highly flexible and adaptable mini-multi-orchestras form a natural tributary for today’s many stylistic cross-currents. Western, non-Western, classical, folk, jazz, avant-garde or pop — such diverse influences converge and connect in these more flexible contexts, resulting in inventive cross-fertilisations and creative collaborations.

Chicago-based Third Coast Percussion epitomise this new dynamic new breed. Following on from their award-winning disc of music by Steve Reich (Cedille, 6/16), Paddle to the Sea showcases the percussion quartet’s talents as composers and performers. The central work is the group’s evocative soundtrack to the Academy Award-nominated film Paddle to the Sea, produced by the National Film Board of Canada in 1966, itself based on Holling C. Holling’s 1941 children’s book of the same name.

The score, which makes use of a bewildering array of instruments ranging from marimbas, vibraphones and drum kit to glass bowls, tuned cowbells, pitched desk bells, ceramic tiles and sand blocks, could have easily resulted in a dense textural tangle laden with special effects. However, Third Coast Percussion’s acutely sensitive approach to sound yields a work that glides effortlessly and subtly between animated rhythmic sections and moments of serene, tranquil reflection.

Read the full article in Gramophone Magazine.


Philip Glass, Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon on tap for 2018-19 Liquid Music Series

June 26, 2018
by Christy DeSmith

Glass will write a piece for Chicago’s Third Coast Percussion, while Gordon will perform a “very intimate” work at the American Swedish Institute. 

Known for bridging the worlds of indie rock, jazz and classical, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music Series has grown in breadth and ambition over six years. With its 2018-19 season, announced Tuesday, Liquid Music offers more cross-genre pollinating with added star power, a lot more dance and a personal best of six world premieres.

The season’s biggest booking involves composer Philip Glass, celebrated for his minimalist operas, symphonies and film scores. Liquid Music partnered with a handful of arts groups and individuals to commission a new Glass piece for Chicago’s Third Coast Percussion. “It’s Philip’s first work for percussion ensemble,” noted Liquid Music curator Kate Nordstrum. Third Coast also will play fresh music by Devonté Hynes, aka Blood Orange, a pop producer and songwriter with a wildly diverse sound palette. (Dec. 9, Ordway Concert Hall, St. Paul)

Another head-turning event features Kim Gordon, best known as co-founder of the arty indie-rock band Sonic Youth. Gordon will create a “very intimate” evening of improvised performance with classically trained choreographer/curator Dimitri Chamblas. (March 4-5, 2019, American Swedish Institute, Mpls.)

Read the full article and Liquid Music line-up here.