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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

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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Concert Review: Third Coast Percussion hits all the right notes



June 24, 2016

by Robert Croan

It was not your grandmother’s chamber music at East Liberty’s Kelly Strayhorn Theater Thursday. Chamber Music Pittsburgh opened its enterprising Just Summer! season with a rousing and riveting concert by Chicago’s Third Coast Percussion — sounds quite unlike anything you’re likely to hear elsewhere in Pittsburgh.

The concert featuring virtuoso players Sean Connors, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin and David Skidmore traversed wide-ranging works for percussion groups, from John Cage’s seminal “Third Construction” (1941) up to a recent work by Mr. Skidmore, who was percussionist with Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble from 2007-11. Mr. Connors and Mr. Martin also have performed with PNME.

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Album review: REICH Third Coast Percussion




June 2016
by Pwyll ap Siôn

Steve Reich’s music is often at its most effective when he writes for different combinations of percussion and/or piano, often set out symmetrically on stage in opposing pairs. This form of contemporary chamber music – unique in many ways to Reich – foregrounds some of its most important stylistic elements: rhythmic and melodic counterpoint; the combination and layering of interlocking patterns; and, most importantly, the dynamic interplay and subtle shifts in balance that are required collectively from the ensemble to best achieve these effects.

It is this last element that proves a stumbling block for some performances of Reich’s music. Third Coast Percussion get it absolutely right here. Consider, for example, the five-movement Sextet (1984) for percussion and keyboards, which has become something of a 1980s Reich classic. Third Coast take the first movement at a slightly steadier pace than the original recording by Steve Reich and Musicians (Nonesuch, 8/88) and certainly more slowly than Contempoartensemble under Danilo Grassi (Arts Music, 2002), who race through the opening chord cycle at such speed that the music’s rhythmic subtleties are largely lost.

Third Coast’s more considered approach allows them to dig deeper into Sextet’s dark, almost threatening undertow. A sense of urgency and immediacy is still maintained, however, and the transitions between each movement are well coordinated. The same level of care is evident in the more recent Mallet Quartet (2009) with imaginative blending of colours, dramatic dynamic thrusts and sudden contrasts especially evident during the work’s final movement. The intuitive rhythmic empathy between players that’s key in performing Reich’s music is also evident in the lighter Nagoya Marimbas (1994) and more radical, earlier Music for Pieces of Wood (1973) for five pairs of tuned claves. The recording itself would have benefited from a slightly more resonant acoustic but overall this is a really impressive Reich debut from Third Coast Percussion.

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New, radiant and beautiful





June 2016
by Anthony Burton

This enjoyable anthology of recent music by the American composer Augusta Read Thomas comes right up to date with Of Being is a Bird, recorded at its premiere in London last July…. The same sense of purposeful motion runs through the DNA-inspired string quartet Helix Spirals, which progresses gradually from scattered pizzicatos to bowed unanimity, and Selene, for percussion and string quartets, which depicts the moon goddess’s journey across the skies with irresistible forward drive, pausing only for moments of radiant beauty.

Claire Booth and Aurora capture the poetry and liveliness of the Dickinson settings, the Parker Quartet are impressively assured in Helix Spirals, and Third Coast Percussion and the Spektral Quartet interlock with exhilarating precision in Selene.

Performance ★★★★★
Recording ★★★★★

Thinking outside the drum box


April 24, 2016
Carrie Seidman

Say percussion and what most people think of is drums. But that’s a far too limited description of the instruments played by Third Coast Percussion, a quartet returning to Sarasota this weekend as the final performers in the New Music New College concert series.

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Classical CDs Weekly: Elgar, Ives, Reich, Walton

arts desk

April 9, 2016
by Graham Rickson

Steve Reich: Mallet Quartet, Sextet, Nagoya Marimbas, Music for Pieces of Wood Third Coast Percussion (Cedille)

This is the greatest percussion disc I have ever heard, both in terms of playing and recording. In the words of Chicago-based Third Coast Percussion, Steve Reich’s music has “shown audiences how percussion can be absolutely essential… it seems to have marimbas and vibraphones in its very DNA.” Reich’s own recordings of his music on Nonesuch should be on everyone’s shelves, but these performances are sharper still. continue reading »

Next Gen Steve Reich: Two Great New Recordings


April 3, 2016
by Allan Cronin

One of the hurdles on the way to long-term historical recognition is finding the next generation of interpreters for whom the music itself is not new but whose interpretation is needed anew in light of the music’s place in the canon of performed and recorded music. So Mr. Reich has now arrived in two fantastic new recordings.

The first CD here is the Cedille (Cedille 90000 161) label debut by Third Coast Percussion, a young Chicago based group.  The label itself is reason enough to pay attention with their intelligently selected and well-recorded releases.  But even so this one stands out for a couple of reasons.

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Recording of the Week: Third Coast Percussion, Steve Reich

big scity

March 31, 2016
by George Grella

New recordings of the music of Steve Reich are easy to recommend: he’s arguably the most important composer of the last fifty years, and because he’s a contemporary, every new release adds to our understanding of his work. That is as true for poorly played recordings and of lesser compositions; the bad stuff sets the good stuff into greater relief.

There is nothing bad on this recording in terms of either the writing or the playing, it is all very good. The most recent work is the Mallet Quartet, from 2009 (originally released on a Nonesuch disc in 2011 along with WTC 9/11 and Dance Patterns). This is one of Reichs’ finest recent works—propulsive, and mixing his developing ideas about harmony and form with this exceptional ear for integrated patterns and syncopation. Third Coast Percussion’s performance is excellent, it swings and has a beautiful sonority. This is also one of the best engineered recordings I’ve heard in years—Dan Nichols set it down at Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center—with a lush, clear presence. continue reading »

Third Coast Percussion, music of Steve Reich


March 18, 2016
by Joshua Kosman

With each passing year, the work of the pioneering minimalist composers — Steve Reich chief among them — moves further from being the private domain of the creators and their performing associates to take a place in the standard repertoire. That means that a recording as splendid and distinctive as this new release by the Chicago quartet Third Coast Percussion is, in its own way, comparable to another ensemble playing Beethoven or Stravinsky.

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