Third Coast Percussion joins University of Notre Dame as ensemble-in-residence

Author: Notre Dame News

Third Coast Percussion

The internationally acclaimed Third Coast Percussion quartet assumed the position of ensemble-in-residence at the University of Notre Dame, beginning in June and continuing through the next five academic years. The Chicago-based ensemble, consisting of Sean Connors, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin and David Skidmore, will perform on campus, engage in interdisciplinary collaborations across a wide range of disciplines, perform world premieres of new works by leading composers, conduct master classes and provide community-building residency performances and activities for youth in local schools.

This appointment is the result of Third Coast’s outstanding percussion repertoire and talent. "Third Coast impressed us with their talent, teaching abilities and desire to collaborate across the academy,” said Anna M. Thompson, Judd and Mary Lou Leighton Director of the Performing Arts and executive director of the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. “Watching them make John Cage accessible to elementary students last season was amazing. They are able to reach audiences of all ages and levels of musical understanding.” Thompson calls the quartet “masters of melody and rhythm. These exciting performers make bold and beautiful musical statements.”

Third Coast premiered the piece “Resounding Earth” by world-renowned composer Augusta Read Thomas on Sept. 30, 2012, at Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. The piece was the result of a year-and-a-half investment in the composition on behalf of the University, the composer and the ensemble, and the piece was met with an energetic response by the audience. “Resounding Earth” is a 28-minute work for a percussion quartet featuring more than 125 bells from a wide variety of cultures and historical periods. “Resounding Earth” was commissioned by the 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.

The members of Third Coast Percussion hold degrees in music performance from Northwestern University, the Eastman School of Music, the Yale School of Music, the New England Conservatory and Rutgers University. Ensemble member David Skidmore, who serves on the percussion faculty at the Peabody Conservatory, said, “It is an honor to be partnering with this incredible university. Third Coast Percussion is thrilled at the opportunity to perform for and work with the world-class faculty, students and staff that call Notre Dame their home.”

In addition to performances on tour around the country, Third Coast Percussion’s hometown presence includes an annual Chicago series, with four to five concerts in locations around the city. The ensemble has collaborated in concert with acclaimed ensembles Eighth Blackbird, Signal and the Garth Newel Piano Quartet; pianists Amy Briggs and Lisa Moore; cellists Nicholas Photinos and Tobias Werner; flutist Tim Munro; vocalist Ted Hearne; and video artists Luftwerk. Third Coast’s passion for community outreach includes a wide range of residency offerings while on tour, in addition to a long-term residency with the Davis Square Park Community Band on Chicago’s South Side.

Third Coast Percussion performs at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center

In deciding to come to Notre Dame, Skidmore said, "We are excited to have found an institution that so closely shares our ensemble’s goals and vision for the role of the arts in our society. Great art can and should make meaningful connections to our lives, and we believe that the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center and the University of Notre Dame show an ongoing and sincere commitment to these ideals that mean so much to us as an ensemble. The University’s commitment to commissioning new works is also emblematic of a vital, forward-thinking approach to the arts.”

“Third Coast will be a tremendous addition to the center’s outreach to campus and community as well as our Presenting Series,” Thompson added. “Their position as ensemble-in-residence allows for a depth of impact beyond anything we’ve done before in residencies.”

Founded in 2005 and hailed by the Chicago Reader as “one of the finest new-music ensembles in the country,” Third Coast Percussion presents concerts around the country for all audiences, from the percussion novice to the contemporary music aficionado.

The DeBartolo Performing Arts Center facilitates learning reflective of Notre Dame’s distinctive liberal arts tradition through the informed exploration of universal truths and beauty. The center serves to encourage and celebrate the human spirit through the performing and cinematic arts that connect, stimulate and enrich its communities.

Contact: Paul Van Ness, Marketing Program Manager, DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, 574-631-1873

Originally published by Notre Dame News at on July 22, 2013.