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

Album review: Third Coast Percussion unveils a first from Philip Glass

March 27, 2019
by Joshua Kosman

It took until he was past 80, with many decades’ worth of rhythmic, intricately patterned music under his belt, for Philip Glass to write a piece for percussion ensemble. Now he’s done it, and the result – a spangly, delightful concoction called “Perpetulum” – is the centerpiece of an alluring two-disc release by Third Coast Percussion, for which it was written. (The group will perform this and other works in Herbst Theatre on Wednesday, April 3.)

Naturally, “Perpetulum” bears many of the familiar Glassian harmonic and formal thumbprints, but there’s also a spirit of pop playfulness in the writing that sounds strikingly new.

Along with “Perpetulum” (and an undercooked opus by Gavin Bryars) come sharp-edged and inventive compositions by three of the group’s four members, including Peter Martin’s buoyant “Bend” and Robert Dillon’s wittily authoritarian “Ordering-Instincts.” Perhaps most riveting of all is “Aliens With Extraordinary Abilities,” a manic suite of shape-shifting character sketches by David Skidmore that takes up all of one disc to splendid effect.

See the original article here.

TUTTI Brings A Week Of Performances To Denison

March 13, 2019
by Anusha Shukla

The eighth installment took place from Monday, March 4th to Saturday March 9th hosted by Denison’s Department of Music collaborating with Studio Art, Data Analytics, Creative Writing, Physics, Philosophy and the Denison Museum.

The festival, occurring every other year, was a week long and provided a series of eight concerts plus six more events that included artist talks, workshops and a seminar. For each concert, various composers submitted works to be performed by Denison students, faculty and the visiting ensembles. Those ensembles consisted of the Grammy award winning Third Coast Percussion, Denison’s ensemble-in-residence Ethel, the Columbus Symphony Quartet, the Chamber Music Connection and the Columbus International Children’s Choir.

The festival highlighted many of Denison’s ensembles starting with the Denison Wind Ensemble and the Symphony Orchestra.

The two groups performed on Thursday, March 7th at the Burke Recital Hall. The concert, second in the series, presented world premiere performances of works by various composers including Dr. Ching-chu Hu, Chair of Denison’s Department of Music and Kurt Ebsary, Denison Alumni Class of 2012.

“It’s a truly amazing thing.” said Dr. Chris David Westover, the director of the Denison Wind Ensemble. “I hope you guys know how lucky you are. I didn’t get to do this when I was a student.”

Accompanied by Ethel and members of Third Coast Percussion, the two ensembles performed works by eight different living composers, the importance of which was highlighted by Dr. Phillip Rudd, director of orchestra. He spoke about how amazing it was to “play music that had just been written” and to speak to the composers and get their input.

“We don’t normally get to do this when we have Beethoven, Mozart among the dead,” joked Rudd. He also highlighted the many firsts of the night and announced with pride that his student and assistant concertmaster of the DU Orchestra Clem Pearson ‘20, would be stepping away from his violin for the final piece to conduct the performance instead.

Concert number four, on Friday, March 8th featured the Denison faculty along with the Denison Chamber Singers and the Denison Jazz Ensemble performing five original works including one by Adam Schoenberg, one of the Top 10 most performed living classical composers.

The Denison Chamber Singers had another performance on Tuesday March 12th that included the two songs they performed for the festival.

“I think it was really exciting because I don’t think there have been too many jazz pieces in the festival.” said Maren Clark, a sophomore communication and creative writing double major and a trombonist for the Jazz Ensemble.

“It was slightly different from the music that we normally play; we normally play classic, older songs, standard jazz tunes. It was definitely still jazz though,” Clark said.

About the Tutti festival as a whole, she added, “The amount of really impressive artists that are all on campus at once is amazing. It was so cool to get to be with that many people who are professionally accomplished composers. It was a great way to connect Denison students who are pursuing music to the industry.

Concert five was a unique one, backed by the Denison Beck Lecture series, titled “Words and Music.”

Actor Michael Lockwood Crouch and Ethel performed stories by Denison students, accompanied by music based on those stories by six composers that included students Clem Pearson ’20 and Jaden Richeson ’20.

The festival was closed out by Third Coast Percussion on Saturday, March 9th.

They presented world premiere performances of Nature, Industry Ritual by Timothy Page, written for the Third Coast Percussion’s Emerging Composer Partnership program, The Newness of It All by Ching-chu Hu and  Cache-cache by HyeKyung Lee.

“We are thrilled to have Third Coast Percussion as one of our two featured ensembles. Their amazing artistry is on display throughout the festival, not only with performing on concerts from the submitted works, but also showcasing their Third Coast Percussion Emerging Composers Partnership program to TUTTI on their Saturday evening concert.” said Dr. Hu.

The Tutti festival highlights the exemplary features of Denison’s liberal arts. It has continued to grow, encompassing all art and beyond and shall return again but next time in the new Eisner Centre of Performing Arts.

Read the original article here.


Guest performers have Foellinger ecstatic with ‘Music for 18 Musicians’

March 3, 2019
by John Frayne

On Feb. 16, as part of the Sonic Illinois series, Steve Reich’s “Music for 18 Musicians” was performed by two guest groups, Eighth Blackbird and Third Coast Percussion, (both from Chicago) and nine local performers, making it 19 musicians.

This 1976 composition has a cult reputation for being a landmark in the movement usually called minimalism. As usual, with cult pieces, it is frequently admired, even worshipped, by the cult members, somewhat to the bewilderment of the general run of classical music concertgoers. The claims made for the Reich piece are that it, and other minimalist pieces, upended the expectation of what a piece of music should sound like. Put bluntly, one expects a Beethoven work to start, and then to do something, go somewhere, and, one hopes, arrive somewhere.

That is not what happens in the Reich piece. It begins with xylophone players beating out a simple phrase and something like that will go on for over an hour. To be sure, Reich has a structure of opening and closing “Pulses,” and 11 sections in between, and indeed something in the form of harmonic change does happen. But compared to a traditional piece, it is the difference between watching a running stream, and watching a glacier. True, they do both move.

For me, the secret of a minimalist piece is that, after inducing a near hypnotic trance by constant repetition, any change seems monumental. In this Reich piece, one player, at the vibraphone, signaled a change by beating out a simple phrase, at times sounding to me like the Westminster Chimes, which led to the change in harmony, and at times a change in which another cluster of performers would take the lead in beating out the basic rhythm. Although the fundamental sound of the piece came from mallet instruments (xylophones, marimbas, a vibraphone and maracas) there was a cluster of four pianos, and clarinets, flutes, a violin, a cello, and voices. The sound level of instruments and voices was apparently modified electronically.

As an observer, but not a devotee, of the minimalist movement, I can say that the performance was nothing like I had ever heard before, that the rhythm held me in thrall, and I wondered when it was going to end. All the musicians on stage played with dedicated enthusiasm. Thanks are due to those who organized this event. I now know what an hour with Steve Reich is like.

Let me say that the reaction of the audience in the Foellinger Great Hall, including a large number of students in the balcony, was just this side of ecstatic.


2019 Taiwan International Percussion Convention to kick off May 24

We are thrilled to be included in the 2019 Taiwan International Percussion Convention! This festival brings together some of the biggest names in percussion from around the world to perform an amazing variety of music. Read more below!  We can’t wait!

January 29, 2019
by Huang Tzu-ti

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The 10th edition of the Taiwan International Percussion Convention (TIPC) will take place from May 24 through Jun. 1 and include a total of 15 performances at major art venues across the island.

The shows will be staged at National Concert Hall in Taipei, National Taichung Theater, Tainan Municipal Cultural Center, and Dadong Arts Center in Kaohsiung.

Since it was established in 1993, the event has grown to become a world-class music fiesta, and was hailed by French percussion ensemble Les Percussions de Strasbourg as “the Utopia in the world of music,” according to event sponsor Ju Percussion Group (朱宗慶打擊樂團).

“Pursue your dreams” and “internationalization at home” are the festival’s two major themes. The poster for the event features the red “door god” from Chinese folk religions, which symbolizes the protection of traditions as the TIPC enters its 10th edition.

This year’s lineup includes 70 top-notch percussionists from 12 countries, namely: the Netherlands, Germany, France, Bulgaria, Austria, the U.S., South Africa, Mexico, Malaysia, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.

The convention will kick off with a concert by Ju Percussion Group and National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra on May 24. A cohort of young Taiwanese performers, the youngest of whom is 9-year-old, will treat audiences to a special show.

Some of the performance highlights include Grammy winner Third Coast Percussion, and Marimba Nadaypa, Vassilena Serafimaova, Thomas Enhco, Murat Coskun, Dizu Plaatijies & Ibuyambo Percussion Ensemble, Thomas Lang, as well as Percossa.

Visit the official website of TIPC for more information.

Third Coast Percussion following beat of own drumming at Baylor

January 23, 2019
by Carl Hoover

Percussionist Robert Dillon admits he and his colleagues have to think carefully about the relationship between programming and packing for a concert tour. The former involves what pieces bring the effect they want, the latter about the instruments needed to achieve that. Marimba? Snare drums? Wooden blocks? Tuned bells?

“The question is how can we make a program artistically cohesive, but logistically possible?” said Dillon, a member of the quartet Third Coast Percussion, which plays at Baylor University’s Jones Concert Hall Thursday as part of the Distinguished Artists Series.

Performing at a university with a well-resourced music school such as Baylor, he added, makes a lot of the packing easier as the four percussionists can draw on available instruments and bring only the ones needed to supplement them.

Instruments are crucial for any musicians, but particularly so for a percussionist. When it comes to percussion, possibilities can seem endless with scores of drums, blocks, triangles, instruments played with mallets such as marimbas and xylophones, bells, cymbals and more, before branching into found objects such as flower pots, steel pipes, tin cans, ceramic tiles — the list can go on and on.

For the Grammy Award-winning Third Coast, Thursday’s “Lyrical Geometry” concert offers what the ensemble loves to do: Impress listeners with percussion’s great range.

“We’ll play about eight or nine pieces that showcase a wide range of possibilities,” he said.

The quartet, presently ensemble-in-residence at the University of Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, consists of Dillon, David Skidmore, Peter Martin and Sean Connors. They met while studying percussion at Northwestern University and see part of their mission as broadening the audience for contemporary percussion as well as commissioning and debuting new work.

As such, they’re accustomed to performing for listeners who aren’t quite sure what to expect or what to listen for.

“The first one or two pieces (in a concert) are your chance to win over an audience and then we graduate to newer or different work,” Dillon said. “We also speak from the stage . . . and talk about music we’re super-excited about.”

Something in percussion’s favor is that there’s always something to watch.

“It’s a very visual medium. Every sound you make comes with a physical gesture,” he said.

Among the works TCP will be performing Thursday are works from three of the quartet’s members, Dillon, Skidmore and Martin. The program also includes pieces by Philip Glass, Augusta Read Thomas, Mark Applebaum, Devonte Hynes and “Niagara,” from the quartet’s soundtrack “Paddle To The Sea.”

“It will be fun, full of surprises and show the beauty of what percussion can do,” Dillon said.

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.