Present Music’s second concert of the 2013-14 season, Third Coast, welcomes back Third Coast Percussion, Chicago’s superb contemporary music ensemble. Third Coast Percussion performed on Present Music’s highly-regarded season opener, Inuksuit, on Sept. 7 at the Lynden Sculpture Garden. The Third Coast concert will feature musical works that highlight the immense variety of sounds created through standard and unique percussion instruments. Highlights of the program are Steve Reich’s Daniel Variations, a piece commissioned to honor journalist, Daniel Pearl, and Augusta Read Thomas’ Resounding Earth: Star Dust Orbits. Third Coast Percussion will perform this movement from Resounding Earth which incorporates 500 bells from a variety of cultures. Full program and descriptions are included below.
Daniel Variations by Steve Reich - Performace part of International "Harmony For Humanity" concert network
The four movements of this piece use texts from the Biblical book of Daniel and the words of Daniel Pearl, the American Jewish reporter, kidnapped and murdered by Islamist extremists in Pakistan in 2002.
Musically, Daniel Variations has two related harmonic ground plans. This gives a darker chromatic harmony to the first and third movements and a more affirmative harmonic underpinning to the second and fourth. Since Daniel Pearl was not only a reporter, but also played the fiddle - particularly jazz and blue grass - the strings take the lead melodically in the second and fourth movements. It was co-commissioned by the Barbican Centre, London, Carnegie Hall in New York, Cité de la Musique in Paris, Casa de Musica in Porto, Portugal and in memory of Daniel Pearl by an anonymous donor in association with Meet The Composer and the Daniel Pearl Foundation, which is dedicated to cross cultural understanding and music.
Full program notes from Steve Reich
Resounding Earth: Star Dust Orbits by Augusta Read Thomas
More than five hundred pieces of metal are incorporated into the instrumentation of Resounding Earth. Scored for four percussionists playing bells from a wide variety of cultures and historical periods, the project is conceived as a cultural statement celebrating interdependence and commonality across all cultures, and as a musical statement celebrating the extraordinary beauty and diversity of expression inherent in bell sounds.
Bells can be used to celebrate grand occasions, hold sacrificial rites, keep a record of events, give the correct time, celebrate births and weddings, mark funerals, caution a community, enhance any number of religious ceremonies, and are even hung around the necks of animals. As carriers of history and culture, bells, of numerous shapes, sizes, types, decorative patterns, weights, functions, and cultural connotations, enrapture and inspire.
Full program notes from Augusta Read Thomas
Third Construction by John Cage
Third Construction, composed in 1941, follows a scheme similar to that the composer used in the First Construction (1939) and Second Construction (1940). Noting the effect of tonality upon traditional aspects of form, Cage sought to create an infrastructure that could similarly be applied to non-pitched percussion instruments. The result was what has been termed "micro/macrocosmic structure", a structure in which the whole is reflected in the individual parts.
The four performers in Third Construction play a large and varied battery of exotic instruments. By combining the endless possibilities of percussion colors and rhythms within a controlled, telescopic structure, Cage creates a work that is continually surprising yet holistically unified.
Full program notes from AllMusic
Trade Winds by Timothy Andres
Trade Winds, a piecefor bass clarinet, percussion, piano and string quartet, is a chaconne surrounded by two bookends: a big, busy introduction and a short, hesitant coda. The meat of the piece is the exchange of long, vocal lines passed back and forth between the instruments over repeating harmonies, leading to the obligatory ground-shifting moment.
Full program notes from Timothy Andres
Road to Memphis (version for viola and piano) by Kamran Ince
Memphisis one of the most influential cities of the 20th Century in the development of popular music and culture. Although Ince has been associated with Memphis he never really consciously used musical material from Memphis. When he was approached with the idea of creating a work that contained elements of Memphis music he was really excited. Ince travel a lot between Memphis and Istanbul—yes, many people find it a fascinating combination—and thought that somehow combining these two parts of his world in a more concrete way would be an exciting, fresh, interesting challenge.
Full program notes from Kamran Ince