Program notes for “Perspectives” concert program

Published September 8, 2020 by Rebecca McDaniel      |      Share this post!


“The Hero” from Archetypes (2019/2020)           Clarice Assad (b. 1978)/ arr. Third Coast Percussion

 Perfectly Voiceless (2018)                                        Devonté Hynes (b. 1985)

Death Wish (2017)                                                      Gemma Peacocke (b. 1984)

Perpetulum, movement 3 (2018)                             Philip Glass (b. 1937)

Aphasia (2010)                                                             Mark Applebaum (b. 1967)

Perspective (2020)                                                       Jlin (b. 1987)



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, she is also a celebrated pianist and inventive vocalist. Ms. Assad has released seven solo albums and appeared on—or had her works performed on—another 30. Her award-winning Voxploration Series on music education, creation, songwriting and improvisation has been presented throughout the United States, Brazil, Europe, and the Middle East.

Third Coast Percussion worked together with Clarice and her father, the legendary classical guitarist Sérgio 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. With Clarice’s blessing, TCP arranged her composition “The Hero” from this project for percussion quartet alone, as an additional opportunity to share this bold music with audiences.

Archetypes was recorded by Sérgio and Clarice Assad with Third Coast Percussion for release on Cedille Records in March 2021.

“The Hero” duration: 4 minutes


Devonté Hynes is a British singer, songwriter, composer, producer, and author, now residing in New York City. He has released five studio albums under the name “Blood Orange,” and previously released two albums as “Lightspeed Champion.” He has produced for artists such as Solange Knowles, Sky Ferreira, and Carly Rae Jepsen, and has made his own solo appearances on the Pitchfork and Coachella Music Festivals. Hynes plays cello and piano, and recently performed some of Philip Glass’s etudes as part of an all-star lineup for Glass concerts at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. Hynes also has a background in dance and has worked with ballet dancer Maria Kochetkova and choreographer Emma Portner in his own music videos.

Hynes composed the music for an entire evening-length program featuring Third Coast Percussion and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, with new choreography created by Emma Portner, Jon Boogz, and Lil Buck, which premiered in Chicago in September 2018. To create this 75-minute opus, Hynes composed music with synthesized and sampled sounds, which he then sent to Third Coast Percussion. TCP experimented with instruments to create a live performance version of the music, which they then recorded and sent back to Hynes for feedback, then eventually to the choreographers to create the dance. Tonight’s program features a section of this program, Perfectly Voiceless, that served as a musical interlude between choreographed pieces.

Third Coast Percussion’s album “Fields,” which includes all of the music composed by Hynes as part of the project with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago was released on Cedille Records in October 2019.

This work was commissioned by the Charles and Joan Gross Family Foundation. The project was supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Third Coast Percussion New Works Fund, and the Elizabeth F Cheney Foundation.

Duration: 11 minutes


Gemma Peacocke is a composer from New Zealand who currently resides in Brooklyn, New York. Gemma’s music works in both acoustic and electronic sound worlds, and she is interested in how music can amplify the voices of under-heard groups of people. She is a co-founder of Kinds of Kings, a collective of US-based composers focused on producing immersive and inclusive work.

About her piece Death Wish, Peacocke writes:

“I wrote Death Wish after watching a short film featuring New Zealand survivors of sexual assault. One of the survivors, Hinewirangi Kohu-Morgan, spoke about the out-of-control spiralling of her life for many years and how she developed what she called a ‘death wish.’ In the piece I thought about the spooling and unspooling of energy and how we are all bound and driven by forces both within and beyond ourselves.

“With the greatest of respect for Hinewirangi Kohu-Morgan who has used her life to create art and music and to help survivors of abuse and those who have perpetrated abuse.

“I ōrea te tuātara ka patu ki waho. Aroha nui.”

Duration: 10 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.

Although percussion instruments have played an important role in much of Philip Glass’s music, and a number of his works have been arranged for percussion by other musicians, Glass had never composed a work for percussion ensemble until Third Coast Percussion commissioned Perpetulum. Glass, who was 81 years old when he composed this work, harkened back to childhood memories of his first experience with percussion instruments. Though Glass’s primary musical instrument was the flute, he had the opportunity to participate in a percussion class while a student at the Preparatory Division of the Peabody Conservatory in his hometown of Baltimore. Perpetulum blends a bright-eyed exploration of the sounds of percussion with Glass’s signature musical voice.

Perpetulum by Philip Glass was commissioned for Third Coast Percussion with lead support from the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation. The work was co-commissioned by Elizabeth and Justus Schlichting for Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Bravo! Vail Music Festival, San Francisco Performances, Town Hall Seattle, Performance Santa Fe, the University of Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, and the Third Coast Percussion New Works Fund, with additional support from Friedrich Burian, Bruce Oltman, MiTO Settembre Musica, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music Series, and the Percussive Arts Society.

Third movement duration: 5 minutes


Mark Applebaum is the Edith & Leland Smith Professor of Composition at Stanford University. Always an “outside the box” thinker, his compositions include a work for three conductors and no players, a concerto for florist with symphony orchestra, and music notated on the face of a wristwatch. His TED Talk, “The Mad Scientist of Music,” has been seen by more than three million viewers. Applebaum is also an accomplished jazz pianist and builds electroacoustic sound-sculptures out of junk, hardware, and found objects. At Stanford, Applebaum is the founding director of [sic]—the Stanford Improvisation Collective.

Aphasia is a work for solo vocalist, notable as the composer says, “for its absence of live singing.” Instead, this work (which has gained great popularity among percussionists) consists of a recording of a number of transformed voice samples from baritone Nicholas Isherwood and a series of specific prescribed physical gestures to be performed live. These gestures include familiar everyday motions such as turning a key, eating a sandwich, or buckling a seatbelt, and are synchronized with the samples, but unrelated in meaning.

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 has for Kronos Quartet and choreographer Wayne McGregor, 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, 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.

Duration (of the 5 movements featured in tonight’s show): 24 minutes