Fall Announcements: Cincinnati Symphony, Carnegie Hall, and More!



Dear Friends,

September is here, can you believe it?  We are thrilled to share news of upcoming concerts – with the Cincinnati Symphony and Bryce Dessner, with Caroline Shaw, at Carnegie Hall, later this month at Princeton, and elsewhere – new recordings, new commissions from Nathalie Joachim, Shodekeh Talifero, and others.

Read on, and join us!

P R I N C E T O N
C I N C I N N A T I   S Y M P H O N Y



We begin the season with a free, live concert on Sept 18 at Princeton University (where we are the Edward T. Cone Performers-in-Residence), and with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra for MusicNOW, playing a Sept 24 recital of works written for Sō by Bryce Dessner,  Angélica Negrón, and Dominic Shodekeh Talifero.

Then on Sept 25 we join the CSO and Louis Langrée for David Lang’s man made (the performance will be recorded for commercial release — stay tuned for more info!) and Lully’s Suite from Le Bourgeois gentilhomme.

Learn more (including info about the Cincinnati Symphony’s fantastic safety regulations) and buy tickets here.



C A R N E G I E   H A L L



On December 11, we return to Carnegie Hall!

The music on this program encompasses a range of recent collaborations; we offer the world premiere of Nathalie Joachim‘s Note to Self, a co-commission from Carnegie Hall and Sō through the Andrew W. Siegel Fellowship; it’s the first work Nathalie has written for percussion, and it is AWESOME.

We also offer the latest installation of Shodekeh Talifero‘s Vodalities: Paradigms of Consciousnness for the Human Voice. This piece, which Shodekeh will perform with us, is supported by our Flexible Commissions initiative (read more about this project below).

We also revisit Caroline Shaw‘s gorgeous Narrow Sea, with the inimitable Dawn Upshaw and Gilbert Kalish, and wind up with a joyous ensemble version of Jason Treuting‘s Amid the Noise, a work which is a kind of seed crystal of artistic development for Sō throughout the years.

To be onstage at Carnegie Hall is always a dazzling honor, and to share this music with a live audience in 2021 is a privilege that nearly overwhelms us.

We cannot wait to share this music with you, and we are happy to say that single tickets are now on sale. Get them here.









A L B U M S

This Fall, we release our second Sō Percussion Editions album, featuring new and recent works by Darian Donovan Thomas. The album includes two performances (by the Bergamot Quartet, and by Sō) of Individuate, a work commissioned through the Sō Flexible Commissions initiative. Also on the album is Stephon Clark, and Kid Gunner Brother, performed by Troika Percussion.

This release follows a year of major new Sō recordings; we began 2021 with Caroline Shaw’s Narrow Sea from Nonesuch Records, and our joint project with Buke and Gase, A Record Of… Then in May we released our first album from Sō Percussion Editions: a performance of Julius Eastman’s epic Stay On It.

This summer, we welcomed Let the Soil Play Its Simple Part, created and performed by our “band” with Caroline Shaw. We are so deeply proud of this project, and are delighted to say that in November we’ll be touring the songs with Caroline – stay tuned for cities and dates!

“[Let the Soil Play its Simple Part] with Sō Percussion is every bit as vivid and colourful as the acclaimed Narrow Sea released earlier this year… it is also an experiment in deep collaboration…The result is a glorious, genre-defying disc by turns poignant, celebratory, complex and direct…Beautifully performed and expertly produced, this is music-making at its most vital, expressive and imaginative.”
– BBC Music Magazine



C O M M I S S I O N S

So, what is Sō’s Flexible Commissions initiative? Part of our New Works Development project, it begins with these questions:

Does a piece of music consist of the abstract ideas which animate it? Is it about the exact sounds a composer hears in their mind’s ear? Can it just be notes and rhythms, or even a blueprint for construction?

Although we’ve performed with flexible instrumentation works for years – Terry Riley’s In C, Jason Treuting’s Amid the Noise, etc – the concept gained urgency in 2020, when quarantine and social issues made us question and consider every element of music-making and collaboration. Flexibility was the only way forward.

Recent and upcoming Flexible Commissions include new works by Kendall K. Williams, Bora Yoon, Darian Donavan Thomas, Claire Rousay, Shodekeh Talifero, and Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti.

Stay tuned for more!

 

S Ō S I   2 0 2 1

This summer we offered our 13th annual Sō Percussion Summer Institute, a remote, immersive program exploring performance practice and collaboration.

Check out the 2021 SōSI Closing Concert above – it features HOURS of new music and performances by the incredible SōSI artists. Congratulations to all!

We also thank everyone who donated to Sō during SōSI; 100% of those gifts provided meals through The Outreach Program for food-insecure families in Mercer County, NJ.

This is our seventh year partnering with this incredible organization; we are honored to work with them.  THANK YOU, all of you who have supported this effort!



Thank you for reading and listening. Be in touch, and be well!

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Caroline Shaw and Sō Percussion’s ‘Let the Soil Play Its Simple Part,’ Out Now on Nonesuch

 

Let the Soil Play Its Simple Part, an album of songs written and performed by Caroline Shaw and Sō Percussion, is out now on Nonesuch Records, available everywhere here, including on clear vinyl. The musicians, who have known each other since their student days, were presented with three days of gratis studio time and decided to experiment with ideas they had begun putting to tape during the sessions for their January 2021 Nonesuch release Narrow Sea. With Shaw on vocals and Sō—Eric Cha-Beach, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski, and Jason Treuting—filling out this new band, they developed songs in the studio, with lyrics inspired by their own wide-ranging interests: James Joyce, the Sacred Harp hymn book, a poem by Anne Carson, the Bible’s Book of Ruth, the American roots tune “I’ll Fly Away,” and the pop perfection of ABBA, among others. The album is co-produced by Shaw, Sō Percussion, and the Grammy Award–winning engineer Jonathan Low (The National, Taylor Swift).

To coincide with the album’s release, the artists have released a video of them performing their take on ABBA’s “Lay All Your Love on Me,” a track on the new album. The video, directed by Maureen Towey and filmed at Bok in Philadelphia, includes additional vocals from Beth Meyers and Yeji Cha-Beach; you can watch it here:

Shaw, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her vocal composition Partita for 8 Voices, written for and performed with Roomful of Teeth, makes her solo vocal debut with Let the Soil Play Its Simple Part.

The album’s first track, “To the Sky,” is from the Sacred Harp and takes its lyrics from Anne Steele. “I love the songs about death, and going home, and looking toward a time that is better or brighter, which, if there’s one thing to think about in the world, maybe that’s the thing,” Shaw says. “This one I love in particular. There’s a line, ‘Frail solace of an hour/ So soon our transient comforts fly / And pleasure blooms to die.’ It’s meditation on the ephemeral, and I love it.”

“I hadn’t written very many songs, but I have certainly loved many in my life. I’ve been thinking of making a solo album for seven or eight years, but it takes having the right friends and community in the room,” Shaw says. “The prompt for all of us was: What would we make in the room together with no one person in charge, like a band writes in the studio?”

Cha-Beach recalls of the early test run during the Narrow Sea session: “It had that capturing-lightning-in-a bottle feeling.” When the opportunity to have three days in their friends’ studio, Guilford Sound, came up, the five musicians decamped for Vermont with engineer/co-producer Jonathan Low. “Jon is an amazing editor,” Cha-Beach says, “He is so helpful in thinking about: ‘We have these ideas: how do we shrink those and make them come across on an album?’”

One such idea was for Shaw to do a duet with each member of Sō. She sings with Josh Quillen on steel drums on the title track, which she wrote in under an hour in a “free-writing zone, very inspired by James Joyce, taking on that brain space,” she says. Lyrically, the song is “related to some math bits that I love, but also memory, and love songs of somebody who’s gone or passed away, or that you’re no longer with: what is the sound of that kind of devastation or confusion or love?” They recorded the song only twice, and the first take is on the album. “It’s very spare. The playing is very Josh; it’s so sensitive,” Shaw says.

Adam Sliwinski’s marimba duet with Shaw is an interpretation of the ABBA song “Lay All Your Love on Me.” She explains, “It’s really a Bach chorale. Also, the idea of someone singing ‘Don’t go wasting your emotion / Lay all your love on me / Don’t go sharing your devotion / Lay all your love on me,’ over and over again very slowly, there’s a certain tragedy in it. And then Adam did some absolutely exquisite layering that built this stunning world from the marimba.”

Jason Treuting on the drum kit joined Shaw for “Long Ago We Counted.” She suggested, “Why don’t we start with the voice and the kit having a weird conversation, sort of like two babies talking to each other? And then we built this loop, and we go from this place that’s totally uncomfortable and nonsensical to something that’s rich and rolling and satisfying.” For “Some Bright Morning,” the duet with Cha-Beach—who here plays electronics, piano, and Hammond organ—Shaw drew upon a twelfth century liturgical hymn she had sung regularly in church during her college years: “Salve Regina.”

“Some songs on Let the Soil… were very specifically composed by Caroline,” Cha-Beach says. “But others were this assemblage of ideas: finding words, an idea for how a melody could work, a harmony, and then tossing it in a blender and trusting each other.” Shaw adds, “What I love about Sō is the curiosity about how objects make sounds and how they speak to each other. [There was an] underlying thread of thinking about what goes into soil, how we take care of it, how we allow it to be itself, how we contain it, and what can come out of it if you cultivate the right environment, which for me is always this wonderful metaphor for creativity and collaboration: let people be themselves and see what happens,” she concludes.

Sō Percussion and Friends at Carnegie Hall – December 11th

Saturday, December 11, 2021 — 9 PM — Zankel Hall

Learn more and get tickets HERE

Sō Percussion is your guide for intriguing journeys to new worlds of sound. “Through a mix of consummate skill and quirky charm, this mercurial quartet has helped ignite an explosive new enthusiasm for percussion music old and new” (The New York Times). For this fascinating concert, their trademark sound is enhanced by exciting guest artists, including vocalists, an innovative beatboxer, and steel drummers in music by leading composers of our day, including Haitian American composer Nathalie Joachim’s new work co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall.

Part of:Fast Forward

Program

DOMINIC “SHODEKEH” TALIFERO Vodalities: Paradigms of Consciousness for the Human Voice

NATHALIE JOACHIM Note to Self (NY Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall)

CAROLINE SHAW Narrow Sea

JASON TREUTING Amid the Noise

Performers

Sō Percussion
·· Eric Cha-Beach
·· Josh Quillen
·· Adam Sliwinski
·· Jason Treuting
Nathalie Joachim, Vocalist
Dawn Upshaw, Soprano
Gilbert Kalish, Piano
Dominic “Shodekeh” Talifero, Beatboxer, Vocal Percussionist, and Breath Artist
Pan in Motion

So Percussion releases Julius Eastman’s “Stay On It” with friends

We are delighted to announce the release of our new recording of Julius Eastman’s Stay On It, available TODAY on Bandcamp, Spotify, and YouTube.

 

Video by: MEDIAQUEER (Darian Thomas and Phong Tran)
 

This recording is a collaboration with MEDIAQUEER (who also designed the album cover and music video), Adam Tendler, Shelley Washington, Alex Sopp, Beth Meyers, and Grey Mcmurray.

Stay On It is released through Sō Percussion Editions, a new in-house imprint that will feature recordings of new and recent works written for Sō and friends, including commissions through our  New Work Development Fund, and especially the Flexible Commissions program started in 2020.

All profits and proceeds from the sale of Stay On It will be donated to Castle of our Skins, a concert and educational series dedicated to celebrating Black artistry through music.

As a bonus to the recording, Alex Sopp has re-released her wonderful t-shirt featuring Julius Eastman; check it out!

SōSI 2021 goes REMOTE – and we are re-opening applications!

Dear Friends,

Since we officially “closed” the application period for the 2021 Sō Percussion Summer Institute last month, a LOT has happened, including new information from our partners at Princeton, and new confirmations from guest artists.So here are the updates:

  • This year’s SōSI is going to be remote – it is NOT an in-person festival. It still runs July 11-25, 2021, and will involve a range of synchronous and asynchronous work. (This means you can join from ANYWHERE!)
  • With this new information in mind, we are re-opening applications and accepting musicians of ALL practices (not just percussionists and composers).
  • Guest artists and faculty include:
Composer in Residence – Nathalie Joachim
 

Apply to SōSI 2021

 

YES, tuition is adjusted to reflect the fact that SōSI is remote
YES, there are scholarships available, learn more here
YES, there will be options to audit portions of SōSI (beginning May 1)
Scholarships for SōSI are available through application via the application portal, ranging from $250 – $1,000.
We are thrilled to provide multiple scholarship opportunities including:
  • Students who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People Of Color (BIPOC)
  • A composition assistant scholarship
  • General support

The Quietus reviews “A Record Of…” with Buke and Gase: “a superb collaboration”

Online magazine The Quietus has words of high praise for Buke and Gase and So Percussion’s new collaborative album A Record of:

A Record Of… is a superb collaboration, reconciling jarring contrasts without compromising either party’s own character. It is the dynamic meeting point of pop and experimental, punk and classical minimalism, noisy and hushed, abrasive and smooth, delivered with stark clarity and precision.

Check out the whole review, and our album is available now!

 

 

NEXUS and So Percussion announce Drumming at 50

NEXUS and Sō Percussion are pleased to announce the public launch of DRUMMINGat50.com, a website examining the immense influence, innovative compositional and performing techniques, and history of Steve Reich’s seminal work for percussion, Drumming.

DRUMMINGat50.com contains a deep library of multimedia resources, including:

  • a new performance of the piece by NEXUS sand Sō Percussion, Beth Meyers, Yumi Tamashiro, Daisy Press, and Alex Sopp, filmed and produced by Four/Ten Media,
  • a new program note from Steve Reich, offering deeper insight into the influence of Ghanaian drumming traditions on his compositional development in that era,
  • conversations with musicians and musicologists who discuss the social and musical impacts of the piece,
  • a broad range of academic papers about the piece, including contributions by Dr. Louise Devenish, Adam Sliwinski, and Oliver Xu,
  • a brilliant examination of the performance practice and training required for the piece by Russell Hartenberger,
  • and much more!

DRUMMINGat50.com’s launch is timed to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Drumming, and to  echo the year of preparation that preceded the world premiere of the piece at the Museum of Modern Art in New York by Steve Reich and Musicians on December 3, 1971.

DRUMMINGat50.com is fully available to the public, and was designed and curated by Russell Hartenberger (of NEXUS, and an original performer in the world premiere of Drumming) and Ray Dillard, and built by Agile web designer Alex Kessaris.

 

Sō Percussion signs the New Music Equity Action pledge

Sō Percussion is proud to be a founding signatory to the New Music Equity Action Pledge. This commitment arises out of the work of a number of peer organizations who want to work actively against inequity, racism, and anti-Blackness in our field.

New Music Equity Action (NMEA) is a flexible assembly of composers, performers, and administrators in the US whose work creates new music. There is no fixed membership and participation in all group meetings and activities is open to anyone in the field. The group began meeting in June 2020 in order to prioritize in our work the values of anti-oppression, anti-racism, equity, and inclusion. We focus on dismantling the systemic oppression and marginalization of Black artists in our field within the larger goal of making classical music more responsive to and reflective of our contemporary world.

Nonesuch Records announces “Narrow Sea,” our new album of Caroline Shaw’s music out January 22nd

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.

Announcing the So Percussion Collaborative Workshop! January 2021

The So Percussion Collaborative Workshop 

  • January 8-16, 2021
  • Takes place online
  • Applications open October 15th
  • Free application, “pay what you can” tuition with suggested fee
  • Check out answers to FAQ’s hereLEARN MORE ON OUR PAGE HERE

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.