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“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

Alumni percussion ensemble wins a Grammy


February 16, 2017
by Kelley Czajka

Third Coast Percussion, a classical percussion ensemble comprising four NU alumni, took home a Grammy award Sunday night. Its album “Steve Reich” won the award for Best Chamber Group/Small Ensemble Performance.

This was the first time the group had been nominated for or awarded a Grammy, as well as the first time any percussion group has won a chamber music category, Third Coast member Robert Dillon said.

“We’re very proud of the work that we’ve done and are thrilled to have the honor, but we also definitely recognize that for music, it’s something that’s passed down from one generation to the next through teachers and mentors of all kinds,” Dillon said.

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After Grammy win, Third Coast Percussion comes to Columbia


February 16, 2017
Meredith McGrath

On Sunday, Third Coast Percussion took home this year’s Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance.

Now for the first time, the ensemble is headed to our neck of the woods to work with local music students and perform at the Missouri Theatre on Friday.

The quartet from Chicago gave an educational performance for students at Lee Expressive Arts Elementary School on Tuesday and has been working with students at the MU School of Music.

Percussion students had the opportunity to attend a seminar with the group, where they learned about its background, received career advice and had their own performances critiqued by the professionally trained percussionists.

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Northwestern alumni percussion group nominated for Grammys, attribute success to university


February 9, 2017
by Rishika Dugyala

Peter Martin was not having a good morning.

It was 8 a.m. on Dec. 6 and Martin (Bienen ‘04, ‘11) was rushing to get to his classical percussion ensemble’s — Third Coast Percussion — studio space to start practicing before all the musicians began their group rehearsal at 10 a.m.

The week was a busy one for the group: They had an intense rehearsal schedule to prepare for a couple of recording sessions, and they were in the middle of an educational project at an elementary school on the South Side of Chicago.

“I’ve got to get to the studio; I’ve got to get there,” Martin thought, stumbling out of his Chicago apartment. But as soon as the door shut, he froze. He had left his keys on the counter, locking himself out.

Frustrated, Martin spent about a half hour sorting out the situation before he finally began his walk to the studio. But moments later, his morning luck changed. His phone chimed with a text message. It was his sister congratulating him.

His group’s album, “Steve Reich,” had just been nominated for a 2017 Grammy Award.

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Third Coast Percussion premieres new work by Christopher Cerrone


February 2, 2017
by Jack Walton

Once again, Third Coast Percussion has roused the Sleeping Giant.

Sleeping Giant is the name of a composers’ collective, an alliance of six increasingly prominent young American explorers in the field of contemporary classical music. Third Coast Percussion, the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center’s ensemble-in-residence at the University of Notre Dame, has already performed new works from two of them — Timo Andres and Ted Hearne — and now the percussionists take on a third.

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Grammy winning Third Coast Percussion performs at Lee Expressive Arts Elementary


February 15, 2017
by Roger McKinney

New Grammy Award winners Third Coast Percussion on Tuesday stopped at Lee Expressive Arts Elementary School, where the band entertained and interacted with students.

Third Coast Percussion, from the Chicago area, won its first Grammy on Sunday, for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance. A student asked the musicians how it felt to win the Grammy.

Band member David Skidmore said the award feels good because they had worked really hard for a long time. He said it’s more fun to perform and interact with students.

“This is why we do what we do,” Skidmore said.

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The Best of the Fall Season: Classical New Releases


December 12, 2016
by Mark Pinto

Third Coast Percussion: Steve Reich. The compositional style known as minimalism still sounds so new that it’s hard to believe one of its pioneers—New York City’s Steve Reich—has just turned 80. This album, by Chicago-based Third Coast Percussion, celebrates Reich’s milestone with smooth, spirited, and precise performances of four works for tuned percussion: marimbas, vibraphones, pianos, and even slats of purpleheart wood.

Composed between 1973 and 2009, these works showcase Reich’s trademark style. Steady, complex, interlocking rhythmic patterns create jazzy melodies and harmonies as they evolve subtly in their rhythms, textures, instrumentation, and dynamics. The effect is fascinatingly kaleidoscopic, allowing for multiple entry points into this dynamic and uniquely American music.

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Third Coast Percussion provides an Ear Taxi highlight with jointly composed premiere


by Tim Sawyier
October 9, 2016

The program opened with Third Coast Percussion giving the world premiere of its own Reaction Yield. While all four TCP members—Sean Connors, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin, and David Skidmore—compose their own music, this is the first work they have written together collaboratively. Commissioned by the Glenn D. Prestwich and the Sounds of Science Commissioning Club, which subsidizes pieces that fuse music and science, Reaction Yield was far and away the evening’s highlight.

While the work is divided into four connected movements, Dillon in his prefatory remarks was emphatic that no member was solely responsible for any one segment. A delicate pulsing suffuses and unifies the whole work, while the individual sections are discernible by changes in instrumentation. Particularly memorable was an interlude calling for four triangles of different pitches combined with glockenspiels, which generated an ethereal rhythmic tintinnabulation. Three members also performed on amplified kalimbas (thumb harps) for an extended period creating a hypnotic, meditative atmosphere. One hopes that this will be the first of many collaborative compositions from Third Coast.


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Weekend Ear Taxi Festival events include several winning premieres

by John Von Rhein
October 9, 2016

The staggering amount of brand-new classical music that is emerging from the inaugural Ear Taxi Festival reflects a broad-shouldered synergy among local composers, performers and audience members that’s rare in this nation but particularly emblematic of the Chicago-centric event as masterminded by Augusta Read Thomas.

The marvelous Third Coast Percussion foursome began its segment with the world premiere of a jointly composed piece, “Reaction Yield,” inspired by modern science and deriving its haunting power from intricate rhythmic ostinatos that draw on a kaleidoscopic array of shifting percussion colors.

The work whetted one’s ears for one of Thomas’ own pieces, “Selene (Moon Chariot Rituals),” a Tanglewood Festival-Third Coast co-commission receiving its Chicago premiere. The impetus of dance is never far from the surface of this exhilarating score, which melds the complementary natures of a percussion quartet and a string quartet to produce a study in inexorable rhythmic dynamism. One of Gusty Thomas’ most inventive creations, it drew a supercharged performance from the combined forces of Third Coast and Spektral.

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MITO SettembreMusica. Note su due spettacoli a Torino

September 28, 2016
by Marco Enrico Giacomelli

All’Auditorium Rai si sono esibiti i vulcanici e precisissimi componenti di Third Coast Percussion, ensemble di Chicago fondato nel 2005, insieme ai pianisti David Friend e Oliver Hagen nella seconda parte del concerto.

La prima sessione è dunque tutta percussiva, con la perizia di Sean Connors, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin e David Skidmore messa a dura prova (brillantemente superata) dalla prima esecuzione europea di Surface Tension (2015) del compositore irlandese Donnacha Dennehy. Evidente la parentela con il Minimalismo, ma senza alcun timore reverenziale. Utile anche la breve introduzione di Stefano Catucci, a sottolineare l’accordatura degli strumenti, in alcuni casi variata durante l’esecuzione grazie a un sistema di aumento e diminuzione della pressione interna a tamburi & co. Azionamento rigorosamente orale tramite cannule in gomma e… polmoni.

Il secondo brano (di cui s’è bissato l’ultimo movimento, a dimostrazione della grande generosità degli interpreti) appartiene alla categoria dei padri: è il mitico Sextet (1984-85) di Steve Reich, il che equivale a dire un capolavoro del Minimalismo scritto da uno dei decani del movimento. Anche qui, impeccabile e soprattutto divertita e divertente l’esecuzione, sia da parte dei pianisti che dei percussionisti.

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Third Coast Percussion Champions Steve Reich

by Christian Kriegeskotte
September 14, 2016

In February of 2016, Third Coast Percussion (Sean Connors, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin, and David Skidmore) released their sixth recording in partnership with Chicago-based label Cedille Records. The album, simply titled Third Coast Percussion/Steve Reich, is a collection of definitive works by the eminent American master. Recorded over the course of a week in December of 2014, the program includes four contrasting works composed by Steve Reich between 1973 and 2009.

It is certainly safe to say that the form and aesthetic pioneered by composers such as Reich, Glass and Riley has become a large swath in the foundation of the current generation’s standard repertoire. A tenaciously American archetype, the consonant pulsations and rhythmic mantras of this pioneering group have carried over into the voices of subsequent generations of composers and landed before the fingers, mallets and lips of energetic young performers with great regularity.

Third Coast Percussion manifests this special energy with an expertise and insight not limited to simple technicalities. It seems to have become a kind of default as of late to praise every new recording on the grounds of a good performance and energetic repertoire that seems easy to listen to. But this is more than just an entrancing, glittery object. For music in which control, precision and technique establish the most basic departure point, which hovers just above a surface concealing the potential depth and profundity encoded within, remarking on how well they played is not enough—nonetheless, Third Coast Percussion knocks the performance out of the park.

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