Caroline Shaw’s ‘Narrow Sea,’ Written for and Performed by Sō Percussion, Dawn Upshaw, and Gilbert Kalish, Due January 22 on Nonesuch Records
Nonesuch Records releases its second album from Pulitzer Prize–winning composer Caroline Shaw, Narrow Sea, on January 22, 2021. The title piece was written for Sō Percussion, Dawn Upshaw, and Gilbert Kalish in 2017; they perform it on this recording as well. Narrow Sea comprises five parts, each a new setting of a text from The Sacred Harp nineteenth century collection of shape-note hymns. A composition Shaw wrote for Sō Percussion in 2012, Taxidermy, also is on the album. A video for Part 2 of Narrow Sea can be seen below, and the album may be preordered from here.
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The So Percussion Collaborative Workshop is a nine-day online festival for musicians from a wide range of musical practices. Based on our successful So Percussion Summer Institute (SoSI) which was held online in July of 2020, the Collaborative Workshop will feature music curated by So Percussion based on the practices of the admitted participants.
The Collaborative Workshop is for musicians at a student or professional level who want to work across disciplines and explore the creative side of music production. Where our summer institute emphasizes the tools and techniques of live performance, the Collaborative Workshop focuses on using technology to produce recordings and videos. Unlike our past festivals, the Collaborative Workshop is open to musicians beyond the realms of percussion and composition. We do not have a separate composition track. The So Percussion online course, originally built for SoSI 2020, will be updated, expanded, and included as part of participation in the workshop.
Thursday, September 17, 2020
All performances will be live streamed on the Sō Percussion Facebook page, and on the Sō YouTube channel at 7:00pm (ET).
HPRIZM aka HIGH PRIEST
Iarla Ó Lionáird
HPRIZM aka HIGH PRIEST
HPRIZM aka HIGH PRIEST (Music Producer) Professionally known as -Hprizm is an American Avant-Garde Artist, Composer, New Media artist and Performer whose work spans performance art, pop music and multimedia projects. Formally trained as a visual artist, Prizm, later developed from the axis of poetry, hip hop and the experimental arts community of the Lower East Side in the Early Nineties. Noted for evoking images of “Sun Ra and Africa Bambatta at once…” (Jesse Sewer XL8R Magazine) Austin is the founding member of the critically acclaimed Hip Hop collective, the Antipop Consortium and cited figure in the Afrofuturist canon. With a career that spans the last 20 years, Prizm has shared the stages with a wide array of artists ranging from The Roots, Radiohead and, MFDoom to Matthew Shipp, Vijay Iyer and Steve Lehman. As a composer his pieces have been presented in The Whitney (NYC) The Guggenheim, PS1/Moma The Walker Museum, The New Museum, Cal Arts as well as the Mazzoli Gallery (ITALY) As the Creative Director of PRIZMLABS his recent client base includes
Kehinde Wiley, Simone Leigh, Moor Mother, Ursula Rucker, The Barnes Center (Philadelphia) Bahamadia, & The Banff Center, Meredith Monk, The Sō Percussion Ensemble, Loris Greaud, Snorks (feat. David Lynch and Charlotte Rampling) amongst others.
Beth is a true performer of the 21st century. A day’s work might find her writing original music for her indie-neo-folk band Damsel with bandmate Monica Mugan; playing viola in the Princeton Symphony Orchestra; writing string arrangements for a Regina Spektor appearance on late night TV; performing and writing with her partner, Jason Treuting; singing the music of Steve Reich with So Percussion; recording strings alongside such artists as Björk, The National, and Sufjan Stevens; performing contemporary avant-garde chamber music with ensembles like Alarm Will Sound; or playing in the pit of the Broadway musical, Wicked.
Her passion for singing has also led her to specialize in straight-tone, rhythmic singing, and the music of Steve Reich. Beth’s vocals can be heard on “The Desert Music” with Alarm Will Sound (Cantaloupe Records 2002) as well as a more recent live album of “Drumming” with So Percussion at Le Poisson Rouge (Dog W/A Bone 2016).
Iarla Ó Lionáird has carved a long and unique career in music both internationally and in Ireland. From his iconic early recording of the vision song “Aisling Gheal” as a young boy to his ground breaking recordings with Dublin’s Crash Ensemble and New York’s Alarm will Sound, he has shown a breadth of artistic ambition that sets him apart in the Irish Music fraternity. Preferring not be categorized, his performances and recorded output follows an ambitious arc that challenges musical identity. But there’s no doubt he is one of our most distinctive voices. Distinctive voices are always a welcome arrival, regardless of the orbits they choose, and Iarla Ó Lionáird’s is one that ventures far beyond the boundaries of any one genre: a defiantly unclassifiable sound.
A twice Grammy nominated artist, Ó Lionáird has worked with a stellar cast of composers internationally including Donnacha Dennehy, Dan Trueman, Nico Muhly, Gavin Bryars and David Lang and he has performed and recorded with such luminaries as Peter Gabriel, Nick Cave, Robert Plant and Sinead O’Connor. His unique singing style has carried him to stages and concert halls all over the world, from New York’s Carnegie Hall to the Sydney Opera House and beyond. His voice has graced the silver screen also, with film credits extending from “The Gangs of New York” to “Hotel Rwanda” and most recently as featured vocalist in the film “Calvary” starring Brendan Gleeson and featured singer in the film “Brooklyn” starring Saoirse Ronan. He is the vocalist with the critically acclaimed Irish /American band “The Gloaming.”
Announcing SōSI 2020 Online, a new summer course from Sō Percussion! In place of our 12th annual Sō Percussion Summer Institute on the campus of Princeton University, and in light of the current situation we are all in with the Covid-19 national emergency, we are designing a new virtual SōSI with two main tracks. Although SōSI is normally limited to percussionists and composers, SōSI Online is available to musicians of any instrument or creative discipline in music.
Chamber Music 101: The fundamentals of playing together in an ensemble. Includes cueing, part preparation, rehearsal techniques, performance tips.
A deep dive into the percussion ensemble repertoire: focusing on pieces such as Steve Reich’s “Drumming,” John Cage’s “Third Construction,” and David Lang’s “The so-called laws of nature.”
Courses designed by the individual members of Sō Percussion, covering topics such as steel drum performance in contemporary music, coordination on drumset, the history and practice of 20th and 21st century experimental music, and integrating technology with new music.
“Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.”
Max Ehrmann, Desiderata
During this period of isolation, So Percussion has embarked on a new project re-interpreting music from our third album Amid the Noise, with music by founding member Jason Treuting. Amid the Noise is designed to be modular and flexible, with many different possible versions.
Now also available: “September.”
As part of this project, inspired by our colleague Doug Perkins, we would like to invite YOU to participate. We are making the one-page scores to “June” and now also “September” available for free. Make your own version, perhaps on Youtube, and post it, tagging us @sopercussion on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, or email us a link at email@example.com.
Submissions playlist! Click on the upper right-hand corner of the video to browse through the projects people have submitted so far.
Check out the instructional videos below, as well as the original version of “June” with video by Jenise Treuting.
All of Jason’s music is available for purchase on our website in the shop, including both volumes of Amid the Noise. Have fun!
The current crisis surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic has affected Sō Percussion as it has many artists and small businesses. The peak of our touring season, which represents the bulk of our revenue, was just commencing when the imperative for social distancing caused venues to cancel.
To date, the following events have been cancelled or postponed:
March 20th – Rutgers University
March 26th-29th – Big Ears Festival, Knoxville
April 3rd+4th – Cincinnati Symphony
April 7th – Dallas Symphony
April 18th – Annenberg Center, Philadelphia
April 28th – So Percussion Annual Benefit
The members, board, and staff of So Percussion are in constant communication to formulate plans for the near and medium-term. This situation is fluctuating hour-to-hour, and we will continually reassess our financial and programming strategies.
Currently, we are planning to proceed with all programs from July onward, including the Sō Percussion Summer Institute at Princeton University.
During the period of social distancing, we are initiating a number of service programs online, including mentoring session by the members of Sō Percussion for young artists, short videos about percussion for families with children at home, and an ongoing outreach project where we solicit submissions from composers and performers to highlight what they are working on.
On Thursday, February 6th, we debuted four new songs from our forthcoming album with Caroline Shaw entitled “Let the soil play its simple part.” The New York Times covered this all-Shaw portrait concert, which also included that fantastic Attacca Quartet and Shaw’s song cycle Narrow Sea:
An album of these is in the works, and perhaps it’s time to start rolling out the singles. The four songs heard on Thursday are radio-ready: infectious and inviting, but by no means facile. One, “Lay All Your Love On Me,” seems like a laugh-out-loud tribute to Abba: four lines delivered with childlike simplicity — a straightforward vocal melody accompanied by a vibraphone — that, repeated and evolving, blossom into a chorale of surprising beauty.
“Let the soil play its simple part” is planned for release this year. Grammy nominators, take note.
We will be performing “Let the soil play its simple part” on Saturday, February 15th with a FREE concert at Princeton, and also at the Big Ears Festival at the end of March.
So Percussion is thrilled to announce Brooklyn born Haitian-American flutist, composer, and vocalist Nathalie Joachim as the ensemble’s inaugural Andrew W. Siegel Composition Fellow. A two-year appointment, the Fellowship honors an emerging composer whose work demonstrates extraordinary promise, and who will receive support and collaborative development in the creation of a new work, culminating in a premiere and subsequent touring of the piece by Sō Percussion. Nathalie and Sō will work together throughout the next season, exploring and developing a sonic language and then workshopping this new project together. The resulting composition will premiere at Princeton University in September 2021, and Sō will continue to tour and document the work in the 21/22 season, and beyond.
Click here to learn more about the Andrew W. Siegel Fellowship. To read the full press release, click here.
OUT NOW! New Amsterdam Records releases
Dan Trueman’s Songs That Are Hard To Sing
Written for and performed by
Sō Percussion and JACK Quartet
Out today from New Amsterdam Records, Songs That Are Hard To Sing is an octet written by the incredible Dan Trueman for Sō Percussion and JACK Quartet, employing the bitKlavier, a prepared digital piano invented by Trueman that “makes all the notes between the keys become available.”
On Friday, November 22, we join Dan to celebrate the album release with a FREE event at Princeton University (where Dan is Professor of Music, and we are Performers-In-Residence). We will perform a bit with Dan, and JACK will join in with a special video message!
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Also today, Vic Firth releases the FULL video performance of the work as filmed by the awesome Four/Ten Media. Check it out below!
In 19/20, Sō Percussion is privileged to perform a deep library of new music in the US and throughout the world, including a happy return to Carnegie Hall, where we perform a program exploring a century of percussion music (including Sō’s latest commission, Julia Wolfe’s Forbidden Love)!
We also welcome new albums with Dan Trueman and the JACK Quartet, Buke and Gase, and Caroline Shaw – with whom we perform a series of concerts, including a Miller Theatre Composer Portrait.
In addition, we continue to tour our original work, Amid the Noise; welcome a gallery installation of the video art of From Out a Darker Sea; reunite with Nexus Percussion for Steve Reich’s Drumming; join Louis Langrée and the Cincinnati Symphony for David Lang’s man made – and more!
Read on, browse, and be in touch. We hope to see you soon!
A P E R C U S S I O N C E N T U R Y at Carnegie Hall
Our newest major commission is Julia Wolfe’s Forbidden Love, a string quartet (two violins, viola, cello), written for Sō Percussion. Says Wolfe: “The beautiful thing about Sō is that they are so open, so collaborative, full of adventure and can-do attitude. Together we discovered and drew out beautiful ethereal and crunchy sounds from this iconic quartet of instruments. In the process I developed a very personal new language (boings, szhings, hammering, and more).”
Wolfe’s Forbidden Love is the newest work on a program that articulates the influence of percussion on the language and execution of new music from the 20th century into the 21st. Whether you know and love this repertoire, or you are listening with totally fresh ears, this program, in this gorgeous venue, is going to be something special.
CARLOS CHÁVEZ Largo from Toccata for Percussion Instruments
JOHANNA BEYER March for 30 Percussion Instruments
JOHN CAGE Third Construction
STEVE REICH Music for Pieces of Wood
IANNIS XENAKIS “Peaux” from Pléïades
DAVID LANG Part 3 from the so-called laws of nature
DAN TRUEMAN 120bpm
JULIA WOLFE Forbidden Love (NY Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall)
A M I D T H E N O I S E
Jason Treuting’s Amid the Noise began as a soundtrack, which morphed into our third album and then into a flexible set of live music. Now it is a communal music-making project that can occur with any number of musicians in almost any combination. Like Terry Riley’s In C, this work maintains its identity and integrity even through wildly different realizations.
In 19/20, we perform Amid the Noise in various forms:
• on Sept 13 for a season-opening concert at Princeton University (where we are Performers-in-Residence), alongside Princeton music students.
• Oct 23-27 with the Washington Ballet for NEXTSteps where we perform live to a new dance created by renowned choreographer John Heginbotham.
• As part of a Sō residency in Trinidad and Tobago in January (read more about this below!)
• and ELSEWHERE – more 19/20 dates to be announced!
C A R O L I N E S H A W
We are truly delighted to be be working this season with the Pulitzer-prize winning composer Caroline Shaw.
During the recording sessions, Caroline and Sō spent an extra day in the studio experimenting with new material. The result was so exciting that we decided we HAD to expand this material. In a subsequent recording session, ideas flourished; group tracks, duo tracks (Caroline and each member of Sō wrote/laid down a new song with only 60 minutes), and more.
We kick off the fall season at the Drum Boogie Festival, reuniting with the one and only Nexus Percussion for a performance of that foundational work of percussion: Steve Reich’s Drumming.
It’s our pleasure and honor to have filmed a performance of Drumming with Nexus percussion (as well as with Yumi Tamashiro, Beth Meyers, Alex Sopp, and Daisy Press), which will be released for the 50th anniversary celebration of the piece.
The Sō original production From Out a Darker Sea emerged out of multiple residencies in the industrial areas of Northeast England, known for coal mines and the social impact of their accompanying strikes and the loss of the industry (which many people know from the movie and musical Billy Elliot).
Commissioned by East Durham Creates as part of Arts Council England’s Creative People and Places program, and supported by a Sō residency through Forma, this original production features film and visual art we developed with Amber Films, inspired by Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen’s photographic series The Coal Coast.
This fall, Princeton University is hosting an art installation which includes the original video and recorded music from From Out A Darker Sea!
OTHER NOTABLE ITEMS…
• This fall, we return to Lithuania for the Klaipeda Festival, where we perform Amid the Noise, as well as “classic” Sō repertoire by Bryce Dessner, David Lang, and Steve Reich.
• This season we are piloting a new Cultural Exchange Program, designed to encourage sharing between percussion traditions, where we can learn from performing alongside leading artists in an area while conducting educational residencies in partnership with nearby universities. In February 2020, Sō Percussion will travel to Trinidad, where we will collaborate with steel pan artists from Skiffle Bunch and Pan Elders, work with students at the University of Trinidad and Tabago, and perform (with local musicians) Amid the Noise as part of an educational residency.
• In the spring, we make our debut at the Cité de la Musique in Paris, playing a program of Dessner-Reich.
• We also happily reunite with Louis Langrée for Lully’s Le Bourgeois gentilhommeSuite and David Lang’s man made with the Cincinnati Symphony (Throwback to our performance of these works with Langrée at Mostly Mozart, complete with Turkish crescent!)
• AND, we’re delighted to welcome several new albums this season. Later this fall, look for Dan Trueman’s “Songs that Are Hard to Sing” from New Amsterdam Records, and a collaborative project from Brassland with our friends Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez – aka, Buke and Gase!