Programs
 
 

For this program, Sō Percussion expands the idea of what a performing quartet can do to such an extent that you might not even call it "percussion." These new explorations take us from our very own Julia Wolfe "string quartet," to clinking wine glasses, to Bryce Dessner's new electric string instruments, to a hybrid piece of percussion and dance.

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Sō Percussion has commissioned a refreshing new generation of percussion keyboard music. Steve Reich’s Mallet Quartet from 2009 kicked off a subgenre of pieces for two marimbas and two vibraphones. In that vein, fantastic new works by Vijay Iyer, Donnacha Dennehy, and Jason Treuting demonstrate the possibilities of this satisfying combination of wood and metal. Other works combine keyboard instruments with non-pitched instruments such as flower pots (Caroline Shaw), while still others concoct new ways of bowing, striking, and activating the instruments (Elliot Cole).

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Inspired by John Cage's quirky 1940 work Living Room Music, Sō Percussion has designed a program of works that fit on one table together (with a piano to the side as well). From wine glasses to desk bells to flower pots to radios, the world of percussion encompasses many small sounds and intimate moments.

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Drumming is one of the core works that formed Sō Percussion. For many years, through three recordings and dozens of performances, it has shaped our perspective and our practice. We often visit music schools to teach Drumming in a residency, where five or more percussionists join us to stage the entire 75-minute work.

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Jason Treuting's amid the noise is a communal music-making project that can occur with a flexible number of musicians in almost any combination. Like Terry Riley's In C, this work maintains its identity and integrity through wildly different realizations. Sō Percussion has visited many music schools with this project, enlisting multiple musicians to realize the full work.

 

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The legendary soprano Dawn Upshaw has always maintained an interest in contemporary music. In this program, she and her longtime piano collaborator Gil Kalish join with Sō Percussion on a program of American folk songs: George Crumb's eerie and somber Winds of Destiny, which interweaves familiar civil war tunes like "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," and Caroline Shaw's Narrow Sea, commissioned by Music Accord for this ensemble. In Narrow Sea, Shaw uses songs like "Wayfaring Stranger" to explore the refugee's sense of hope and loss while struggling to find a new home.

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From Out a Darker Sea integrates live music, film and installation into an evening length performance inspired by a UK coal-mining heritage town in East Durham.

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Timeline – with special guest Shara Nova (My Brightest Diamond)

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amid the noise is a collection of pieces written by Jason Treuting which explores noise framed by drones, rhythms, and subtly changing harmonies. It was written and recorded by Sō Percussion in 2006, but has been growing and changing ever since.

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For So, John Cage's work is never far from our mind. Whether we are playing Cage's music, writing music ourselves or collaborating with musicians from across a broad musical spectrum, his ideas of structure, sound and innovation have permeated our music making. When we think of how we'd love to celebrate the life and work of John Cage in his 100th Birthday year, we would like to present two programs that follow the thinking of "We Are All Going in Different Directions."

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