Program notes for Digital TCP: July 2, 2020 “Season Announcement”

Published June 30, 2020 by Rebecca McDaniel      |      Share this post!


“Niagara” from Paddle to the Sea (2016)                    Third Coast Percussion

“The Hero” from Archetypes                                          Clarice Assad (b. 1978)/arr. TCP

“The Innocent” from Archetypes                                  Sérgio Assad (b. 1952)

—–featuring Sérgio and Clarice Assad—–

“Madeira River” from Aguas da Amazonia                 Philip Glass (b.1937)/arr. TCP

“Prayer” from Resounding Earth (2012)                      Augusta Read Thomas (b. 1964)

“Obscure” from Perspective (2020)                              Jlin (b. 1987)

“Derivative” from Perspective                                        Jlin



The four members of Third Coast Percussion all compose their own music, and in recent years, have worked on projects that involve composing music together as a team. As part of a multi-media performance project, the quartet composed music to perform live with the 1966 film Paddle to the Sea, based on a children’s book of the same name written in 1941. The film tells the story of a small wooden figure in a canoe, lovingly carved by a Native Canadian boy and set on a long journey through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway, out to the Atlantic Ocean and beyond. The people who find “Paddle” along the way must choose, rather than keeping him for themselves, to send him further along the waterways, perhaps with a fresh coat of paint or a new rudder. Paddle also encounters danger in his journey, as in this passage, when he goes over Niagara Falls.

Third Coast Percussion’s album Paddle to the Sea, featuring this music, as well as water-themed works that inspired this composition, was released on Cedille Records in February 2018.

Paddle to the Sea was commissioned with lead support from the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation. The work was co-commissioned by the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Meany Center for the Performing Arts at University of Washington, ArtsLIVE at University of Dayton, and the University of Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.

Duration: 4 minutes


Third Coast Percussion worked together with the legendary father and daughter team Sérgio and Clarice Assad to develop the Archetypes project, which premiered in early 2020. The twelve movements of this suite are each inspired by a universal character concept that appears in stories and myths across cultures, such as the jester, the ruler, the creator, or the caregiver. Each of the performers chose certain archetypes that sparked their imaginations, with Clarice and Sérgio each composing four of the movements, and each member of Third Coast Percussion composing one. The vast color palette available to a percussion quartet, combined with Clarice’s versatile musicianship as a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist (including work with electronic processing of her voice), and Sérgio’s unparalleled mastery of the guitar, allowed opportunities to paint vivid pictures inspired by each of these archetypes.

Shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic, the musicians recorded an album of this project, due out on Cedille Records in early 2021. In addition to touring this project as a full concert program, the members of TCP arranged “The Hero” for percussion quartet alone to be able to include in other Third Coast concerts.

“The Hero” duration: 4 minutes
“The Innocent” duration: 4 minutes


Through his operas, his symphonies, his compositions for his own ensemble, and his wide-ranging collaborations with artists ranging from Twyla Tharp to Allen Ginsberg, Woody Allen to David Bowie, Philip Glass has had an extraordinary and unprecedented impact upon the musical and intellectual life of his times.

His collection Aguas da Amazonia has experienced multiple lives on different musical instruments. Glass’s 12 Pieces for Ballet, originally composed for piano, was arranged by Brazilian musical group Uakti for their own gamut of instruments, many of which were custom-made and built by the performers. This new version of the piece was renamed after the Amazon river and its tributaries. Drawing on both the Uakti arrangement and the original piano music, the members of Third Coast Percussion arranged a handful of these pieces as part of its multi-media project Paddle to the Sea, utilizing mallet percussion instruments, synthesizer, and other unique instrumental colors.

“Madeira” duration: 6 minutes


Grammy-award winner Augusta Read Thomas was Mead Composer-in-Residence with the Chicago Symphony from 1997-2006. She is the 16th ever University Professor (of five current University Professors) at The University of Chicago, and she was named one of the Chicago Tribune’s “Chicagoans of the Year” in 2016.

Resounding Earth is scored for four percussionists playing bells (and bell-like instruments) from a wide variety of cultures and historical periods. The piece was 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.

Resounding Earth was commissioned by The University of Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, with additional funding from The Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts, Department of Music, and the Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Program, with generous funding provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Chamber Music America Endowment Fund.

Duration: 9 minutes


Jlin (Jerrilynn Patton) is a producer based in Gary, Indiana. Her unique and evolving electronic sound is rooted in Chicago’s iconic footwork style, with additional influences ranging from Nina Simone to Igor Stravinsky. Jlin’s work assembles evocative and vivid sounds into a musical style that she describes as “clean, precise, and unpredictable.” Her debut album “Dark Energy” was released to critical acclaim in 2015, and her second album “Black Origami” in 2017 to rave reviews from NPR Music and Pitchfork. She composed a work for Kronos Quartet’s “50 for the Future” project, and music for choreographer Wayne McGregor’s “Autobiography,” and has recently performed at the Big Ears Festival, Whitney Museum of Art, and Toledo Museum of Art, among others.

Her seven-movement work Perspective was written for Third Coast Percussion through a highly collaborative process. Jlin visited TCP at their studio in Chicago multiple times to discuss their musical inspirations and new possibilities, and to explore and sample instruments from TCP’s vast collection of percussion sounds. She then created the first version of each of the work’s seven movements in FL Studio (a Digital Audio Workstation) using these samples and other sounds from her own library.

The members of Third Coast Percussion then set about determining how to realize these pieces in live performance. Jlin provided the ensemble recordings of the full tracks as well as the stems (individual recorded parts) that make up the track. Diving into each of the tracks, the percussionists found a beautiful complexity—dozens and dozens of stems in each track, patterns that never seem to repeat when one would expect them to, and outrageous sounds that are hard to imagine recreating acoustically. Even typical percussion sounds like snare drum, hi-hat, or kick drum exist in multiple variations, subtle timbral shades in counterpoint or composite sounds.

In pursuit of the broad expressive range of Jlin’s original tracks, TCP’s live version of this piece incorporates—in addition to standard instruments like marimba and vibraphone—mixing bowls filled with water, bird calls, a variety of gongs and tambourines, Mbira, and a metal spring coil, as well as many variations of drum set-like sounds: instruments that are like a hi-hat but not a hi-hat, or serve the function of a snare drum but are not a snare drum.

Jlin named her piece Perspective as a reference to this unique collaborative process, that this work would exist in two forms, the same music as interpreted through different artists and their modes of expression.

In addition to concert performances, Third Coast Percussion will feature the full 7-movement Perspective in its Carnegie Hall debut in January 2021, as part of a collaboration with Movement Art Is, featuring new movement choreographed by MAI founders Lil Buck and Jon Boogz, and new music by Tyondai Braxton in addition to Jlin’s work and TCP’s arrangements of music by Philip Glass.

Perspective by Jlin was commissioned for Third Coast Percussion by the Boulanger Initiative, Carnegie Hall, the Lester & Hope Abelson Fund for the Performing Arts at the Chicago Community Foundation, the DEW Foundation, and Third Coast Percussion’s New Works Fund.

“Obscure” and “Derivative” durations: 5 minutes each



A powerful communicator renowned for her musical scope and versatility, Brazilian American Clarice Assad is a significant artistic voice in the classical, world music, pop and jazz genres, renowned for her evocative colors, rich textures, and diverse stylistic range. A prolific Grammy nominated composer, with over 70 works to her credit,her work has been commissioned by internationallyrenowned organizations, festivals and artists, and are published in France (Editions Lemoine), Germany (Trekel), Criadores do Brasil(Brazil) andin the USby Virtual Artists Collective Publishing. Asought-after performer, she is a celebrated pianist and inventive vocalist.Ms. Assad has released seven solo albums and appeared onor had her works performed on another 30. Her music is represented on Cedille Records, SONY Masterworks, Nonesuch, Adventure Music, Edge, Telarc, NSS Music, GHA, and CHANDOS. As an innovator, her award-winning Voxploration Series on musiceducation,creation, songwriting and improvisationhas been presented throughout the United States, Brazil, Europe and the Middle East. With her talents sought-after by artists and organizations worldwide, the multi-talented musician continues to attract new audiences both onstage and off.

Brazilian-born guitarist Sérgio Assad, who tours with his brother Odair as The Assad Brothers, has created a new standard of guitar innovation, ingenuity and expression. His exceptional artistry and uncanny ensemble-playing comes from a family rich in Brazilian musical tradition and studies under guitarist/lutenist Monina Távora, a disciple of Andrés Segovia. The brothers’ virtuosity has inspired a wide range of composers to write for them including Astor Piazzolla, Terry Riley, Radamés Gnattali, Marlos Nobre, Nikita Koshkin, Roland Dyens, Jorge Morel, Edino Krieger, and Francisco Mignone. Sérgio Assad has added to their repertoire by composing music for the duo and for various musical partners both with symphony orchestra and in recitals. They have worked extensively with such renowned artists as Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Gidon Kremer, and Dawn Upshaw, toured with Yo-Yo Ma and other musicians from his Silk Road Ensemble, and collaborated with such notable orchestras as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.