So Percussion
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So Percussion

Band Classical Avant-garde


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"Album Review - So Percussion"

On their debut CD, the four members of So Percussion prove that they can really play. Not just play their instruments—which they do with expertise—but play with the genuine freshness and wonder of kids with their favorite toys. Here, their playthings are dizzyingly virtuosic pieces by two restlessly inventive American composers, David Lang and Evan Ziporyn. Lang's "The So-Called Laws of Nature" is a complex matrix of ever-unfolding rhythmic patterns, articulated by instruments that include giant metal pipes and flowerpots. Ziporyn's "Melody Competition" takes its structural cue and sonority from his specialty, Balinese gamelan, resulting in a piece that extends from hypnotic delicacy to potent muscularity. The range of colors and voices that So Percussion coaxes from its menagerie is astonishing and entrancing. This is a must-hear not just for new music fans but for trance music and world music aficionados as well.—AT - Billboard Magazine

"The joyful noise of flower pots, tea cups, brake drums"

The program's entire second half was given over to the local premiere of Lang's "so-called laws of nature." Written for So Percussion, it is over 30 minutes in length and requires the contents of several gardening sheds, a local junk yard, and your grandmother's tea cabinet. Or so it seemed from the fantastic tangle of instruments on stage: walnut planks, tuned steel pipes, tea cups, flower pots, brake drums , and much more. The work opens with an astonishingly loud unison section and ends with the ornately patterned plinking of the tea cups and flower pots. In between is a tour de force of minutely scripted anarchy and glorious noise, rendered by So Percussion with amazing force and precision. - Jeremy Eichler - The Boston Globe

"Bang on a Board: Sophisticated Music for Primitive"

"Watching the ensemble So Percussion brilliantly perform Steve Reich’s “Music for Pieces of Wood” was like watching whirling dervishes enter an intensely focused, disciplined trance. But with the dervishes you are merely a voyeur. The audience at Miller Theater on Friday could share the state of ecstasy drummed up by the percussion group, which opened the Composer Portraits concert dedicated to Mr. Reich." - Vivan Schweitzer - The New York Times

"Album Review - So Percussion: Steve Reich's Drumming"

" will not find a better representation of "Drumming" on disc; it is almost like Pierre Boulez' Deutsche Grammophone recording of Le Sacre du Printemps..." - All Music Guide


On Cantaloupe Music:

So Percussion - David Lang's 'the so-called laws of nature," Evan Ziporyn's Gamelan influenced "Melody Competition."

Steve Reich: Drumming

Amid the Noise - Original music with DVD

On Shhh Productions:

Five (and a 1/2) Gardens - with composer Dan Trueman and Trollstilt



What kind of music is this? For So Percussion, the question has never been an easy one. They’d never been just another modern performance ensemble anyway. Following two acclaimed albums of rigorous music by modern master Steve Reich and even-more-modern masters David Lang and Evan Ziporyn, as well as ongoing collaborations with electronic gurus Matmos, the 20-something quartet has discovered a bold new voice: their own.

Called "astonishing and entrancing" by Billboard, "brilliant" by the New York Times, the discovery is perfectly appropriate. Coming together in the green pastures of New Haven at Yale's graduate program, So Percussion was created to give fresh voice to what co-founder Jason Treuting calls "funky contemporary music." Devoted to the conceptual dreamscapes of Reich, Iannis Xenakis, John Cage, and others, So established a disciplined work ethic, absorbing pieces over months in the Yale studio. A call to Bang on a Can founder David Lang yielded a commission. Called "a must-hear" by Billboard, their self-titled debut featured Lang's "the so-called laws of nature."

In 2004, realizing Steve Reich's nine-part "Drumming" as a quartet, they made one small step for music, one radical step for a percussion group: they overdubbed -- and to great success. Having explored the past, in the form of Reich's classics, and the present, in the form of Lang and Ziporyn's freshest, it was time for So to start exploring the future.

In that vein, their newest CD/DVD Amid the Noise began as an after-hours project. Eager to expand their palette, the members of So experimented with glockenspiel, toy piano, vibraphones, bowed marimba, melodica, tuned and prepared pipes, metals, a wayward ethernet port, and all kinds of sound programming. The resulting idiosyncratic tone explorations were synchronized to Jenise Treuting’s haunting films of street scenes in Brooklyn and Kyoto.

"If you're sick of the sounds you've got, you go and find more," declares Sliwinski of the group's sonic philosophy. "There's always something to hit or rub or whatever." It is an approach they have taken with them to countless educational programs, ranging from community talks to masterclasses with student percussionists and composers at Juilliard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, the University of Texas, the University of Toronto, The Moscow Conservatory, and many other schools. It also has inspired them to commission dozens of composers to write for this most eclectic of instrumental groups. With the list spanning from such notables as David Lang and Paul Lansky to emerging talents Cenk Ergun, Dennis DeSantis and Suzanne Farrin, this unique repertoire has been heard at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and The Knitting Factory in New York, the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco, and Montreal’s Le National, to name a few. In fact, So is one of the only outfits that can play at a major concert hall and with indie's hippest artists within 24 hours.

With an audience comprised of "both kinds of blue hair... elderly matron here, arty punk there" (as the Boston Globe described it), So Percussion makes a rare and wonderful breed of music that both compels instantly and offers vast rewards for engaged listening. Edgy (at least in the sense that little other music sounds like this) and ancient (in that people have been hitting objects for eons), perhaps it doesn’t need to be called anything at all.