So Percussion

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So Percussion
OriginBrooklyn, New York
LabelsCantaloupe Music
Nonesuch Records
Thrill Jockey
Brassland Records
WebsiteOfficial Site
MembersJosh Quillen
Adam Sliwinski
Jason Treuting
Eric Cha-Beach
Past membersTim Feeney
Todd Meehan
Doug Perkins
Lawson White

So Percussion (styled Sō Percussion) is an American percussion quartet based in New York City.

Composed of Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski, Jason Treuting, and Eric Cha-Beach, the group is well known for recording and touring internationally and for its work with composers such as Steve Reich, David Lang, Caroline Shaw, Bryce Dessner, Julia Wolfe, Vijay Iyer, Fred Frith, Dan Trueman, Tristan Perich, Paul Lansky, Steven Mackey, Shara Nova, Martin Bresnick, Oscar Bettison, Evan Ziporyn, and Arvo Pärt. Originally formed when the members were students of Robert van Sice at the Yale School of Music, the group also continues to play works from the standard repertoire of percussion ensemble music—including works by composers such as John Cage, George Crumb, and Iannis Xenakis. In addition to their work with composers, the members of So Percussion produce original music, including large scale evening-length works.

The group is also well known for its use of unusual and exotic instruments in performance and on recordings, including glockenspiel, bowed marimba, aluminum pipes and an amplified cactus.[1][2]

So Percussion records for Bang on a Can record label Cantaloupe Music and is represented by Alliance Artist Management. The group endorses Zildjian, Vic Firth, Remo and Pearl/Adams.[3][4][5][6]


The group's name was suggested by Jenise Treuting, Jason Treuting’s sister.

Jenise writes,

The Sō in Sō Percussion comes from 奏, the second character in the compound Japanese word 演奏 (ensou), to perform music. By itself, so means “to play an instrument.” But it can also mean “to be successful,” “to determine a direction and move forward,” and “to present to the gods or ruler.” Scholars have suggested that the latter comes from the character’s etymology, which included the element “to offer with both hands.” 奏 is a bold, straightforward character, but lends itself to calligraphy with a certain energy that gives so a springy, delicate look.[7]


So Percussion frequently collaborates with other musicians and performers from around the world, including The National (appearing on Grammy-winning album 'Sleep Well Beast'), Buke and Gase, Shara Nova, Dave Douglas, Matmos, Medeski Martin & Wood, Dan Deacon, The Dirty Projectors, Glenn Kotche, Bobby Previte, Kid Millions/Man Forever, Eli Keszler, Emily Johnson, Ain Gordon, Shen Wei, and The Princeton Laptop Orchestra. Recent collaborative projects include the creation with Jad Abumrad of a score to the Radiolab story "The Heartbeat," part of the episode "Radiolab Live: Telltale Hearts featuring Oliver Sacks," produced by Molly Webster and performed live by So Percussion at Brooklyn Academy of Music's "RadioLoveFest.".[8] So Percussion worked with composer West Dylan Thordson as contributing performers on the score of The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, a 2015 HBO documentary miniseries about Robert Durst.[9]


  • Sō Percussion (2004)[10]
  • Steve Reich: Drumming (2005)[11]
  • Amid the Noise (2006) *CD/DVD[12]
  • Five (and-a-half) Gardens — with Trollstilt (2007)
  • Treasure State — with Matmos (2010)[13]
  • Paul Lansky: Threads (2011)[14]
  • Steve Reich: WTC 9/11 - Mallet Quartet Recording (2011) *CD/DVD[15]
  • Steve Mackey: It Is Time (2011) *CD/DVD[16]
  • Martin Bresnick: Caprichos Enfaticos with Lisa Moore, piano (2011)[17]
  • Bad Mango with Dave Douglas, trumpet (2011)[18]
  • David Lang: The Woodmans - Music From the Film (2011)[19]
  • Amid the Noise Remixes (2011)[20]
  • Cage 100: Bootleg Series (2012)[21]
  • Where (we) Live (2012)[22]
  • neither Anvil nor Pulley (2013)[23]
  • Cenk Ergun: Nana - Proximity Recording (2014)[24]
  • Man Forever: Ryonen (2014)[25]
  • Bobby Previte: TERMINALS (2014)[26]
  • Bryce Dessner: Music for Wood and Strings (2015)[27]
  • Glenn Kotche: Drumkit Quartets (2016)[28]
  • Steve Reich and So Percussion: Drumming Live (2017)[29]
  • Color Theory, with PRISM Sax Quartet (2017)[30]
  • Dan Trueman: Songs That Are Hard to Sing - with JACK Quartet (2019)[31]


Princeton University
Since 2014, the members of So Percussion have served as the Edward T. Cone performers-in-residence at Princeton University.[32] The group has commissioned and recorded major works from Princeton composition faculty Steven Mackey, Paul Lansky, and Dan Trueman, as well as collaborating many times with the Princeton Sound Kitchen and Princeton Laptop Orchestra.[33][34]

So Percussion Summer Institute
The annual So Percussion Summer Institute (SoSI), founded in 2009, also takes place on Princeton's campus. The program features teaching and performing with the members of So Percussion and with Princeton faculty and student composers. Each year includes a number of concerts on Princeton's campus, in New York, outdoors in downtown Princeton, and in Small World coffee shop.[35][36][37][38][39]

Bard College Conservatory
Since 2011, members of So Percussion have served as co-directors of the percussion department at the Bard College Conservatory of Music. The program is a five-year double degree. Additional guest faculty for the program include Jan Williams, Garry Kvistad, Tzong-Chin Ju, Greg Zuber, Daniel Druckman, and Jonathan Haas.[40][41][42]

Original music[edit]

From Out a Darker Sea (2017)
From Out a Darker Sea explores the former coal mining communities of East Durham, UK in a collaboration with Forma Arts and Amber Films.[43]

A Gun Show (2016)
A Gun Show is an exploration of American gun culture using music, video, spoken text, and movement. The project was created collaboratively by the members of So Percussion together with director Ain Gordon and choreographer Emily Johnson.[44][45]

Where (we) Live (2013)
Where (we) Live was an original project exploring ideas about home and community, created together with guitarist Grey mcmurray, director Ain Gordon, choreographer Emily Johnson, and video designer Martin Schmidt.[46]

2wice - Fifth Wall (2012)
Members of So Percussion composed the score for 'Fifth Wall' - an iPad-based performance by dancer Jonah Bokaer, published by dance magazine 2wice.[47][48]

Shen Wei - Undivided/Divided (2011)
The members of So Percussion composed the music for Undivided/Divided with choreographer Shen Wei, which premiered at the Park Avenue Armory in November, 2011.[49]

Martin Kersels: 5 Songs (2010)
In 2010 the Whitney Museum commissioned the members of So Percussion to write new original music for performance in connection with Martin Kersels' sculpture project for the Whitney Biennial: 5 Songs.[50]

Imaginary City (2009)
Inspired by the Italo Calvino novel Invisible Cities, Imaginary City used as inspiration the six cities that are home to the presenters that commissioned it: The Brooklyn Academy of Music in Brooklyn, NY; The Myrna Loy Center in Helena, MT; The Cleveland Museum of Art in Cleveland, OH; The Flynn Center in Burlington, VT; Diverseworks Art Space in Houston, TX; and The Newman Center in Denver, CO. The project again included original video created by Jenise Treuting as well as theatrical direction by Rinde Eckert. [51][52]

Music for Trains (2008)
In 2008 So Percussion developed the Music for Trains project in southern Vermont. The month-long residency project centered around performances in and around the towns of Brattleboro and Bellows Falls, including concerts in the train stations of those two towns, pre-recorded mp3 players listened to on the trains, and materials gathered from the local community. The project also included original video created by Jenise Treuting and an on-stage sculpture created by local artist Ahren Ahrenholz.[53][54]

Amid the Noise (2006)
A series of short pieces written by group member Jason Treuting, Amid the Noise was the first project of original music created and recorded by members of So Percussion. The project also features videos created by video artist Jenise Treuting, which were included in the CD/DVD release of 2006.[55]


  • Bessie Award for Outstanding Musical Composition/Sound Design - 2016[56]
  • American Music Center Trailblazer Award - 2011[57]
  • Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming - 2004, 2006, 2010[58][59]
  • ASCAP John Cage Award - 2009[60]
  • International Percussion Competition Luxembourg 2nd Place - 2005[61]

Selected works commissioned[edit]

  • Dennis DeSantis: Shifty (2000)[62]
  • David Lang: the so-called laws of nature (2002)[63]
  • Paul Lansky: Threads (2006)[64]
  • Martin Bresnick: Caprichos Enfaticos (2007)[65]
  • Steve Mackey: It Is Time (2010)[66]
  • Dan Trueman: neither anvil nor pulley (2010)[67]
  • Steve Reich: Mallet Quartet (2010)[68]
  • Bobby Previte: Terminals (2011)[69]
  • Dan Deacon: Ghostbuster Cook: The Origin of the Riddler (2011)[70]
  • Glenn Kotche: Drumkit Quartets (2011)[71]
  • David Lang: man made (2013)[72]
  • Bryce Dessner: Music for Wood and Strings (2013)[73]
  • Shara Nova/So Percussion: Timeline (2015)[74]
  • Paul Lansky: Springs (2016)[75]
  • Caroline Shaw: Narrow Sea (2017) with Dawn Upshaw[76]
  • Donnacha Dennehy: Broken Unison (2017)[77]
  • Dan Trueman: Songs That Are Hard to Sing (2017) with JACK Quartet[78]
  • Vijay Iyer: TORQUE (2018)[79]
  • Angelica Negron: gone (2018)
  • Julia Wolfe: Forbidden Love (2019)[80]


  1. ^ Sparrow (2008-04-29). "Aluminum Pipes & Amplified Cactus". Chronogram Magazine. Retrieved 2010-06-18.
  2. ^ Smith, Steve (2010-03-26). "Cooking Timers, Golf Tethers, Windup Toys: It's All Rhythm". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-17.
  3. ^ Schweitzer, Vivien (2007-07-20). "It Makes a Great Sound; Just Watch out for the Spikes". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-23.
  4. ^ Schweitzer, Vivien (2007-03-26). "Bang on a Board: Sophisticated Music for Primitive Instruments". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-23.
  5. ^ Lowenthal, Kevin (2005-03-28). "Percussionists Lay Down Reich's Elaborate Beats". The Boston Globe.
  6. ^ "The Joyful Noise of Flower Pots, Tea Cups, Brake Drums". The Boston Globe. 2006-12-04.
  7. ^ "About Sō". Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  8. ^ "Radiolab Live: Tell-Tale Hearts featuring Oliver Sacks". Radiolab.
  9. ^ "West Dylan Thordson: 'The Jinx' and 'Foxcatcher' composer goes from Minnesota to NYC". Classical MPR.
  10. ^ "So Percussion (debut CD)".
  11. ^ "Steve Reich - Drumming".
  12. ^ "Amid the Noise".
  13. ^ "Treasure State".
  14. ^ "Paul Lansky - Threads".
  15. ^ "Steve Reich - WTC 9/11".
  16. ^ "Steve Mackey - It Is Time".
  17. ^ "Caprichos Enfaticos".
  18. ^ "Bad Mango".
  19. ^ "David Lang: The Woodmans - Music From the Film".
  20. ^ "Amid the Noise Remixes".
  21. ^ "Cage 100: Bootleg Series".
  22. ^ "Where (we) Live".
  23. ^ "neither Anvil nor Pulley".
  24. ^ "Nana".
  25. ^ "Ryonen".
  26. ^ "TERMINALS".
  27. ^ "Music for Wood and Strings".
  28. ^ "Drumkit Quartets".
  29. ^ "Drumming Live".
  30. ^ "Color Theory".
  31. ^ "Songs That Are Hard to Sing".
  32. ^ "performers-in-residence announcement: Princeton Music Department". Archived from the original on 2011-05-21.
  33. ^ "Princeton University Graduate Program in Musicology and Composition".
  34. ^ "Princeton Laptop Orchestra".
  35. ^ "So Percussion Summer Institute".
  36. ^ "Zildjian Events: So Percussion Summer Institute".
  37. ^ "Got Rhythm".
  38. ^ "So Percussion Quartet shakes up Princeton".
  39. ^ "The Action in Princeton, NJ".
  40. ^ "Bard College Press Releases".
  41. ^ "So Percussion Joins the Faculty of The Bard College Conservatory of Music".
  42. ^ "So Percussion joins the faculty at Bard Conservatory".
  43. ^ "From Out a Darker Sea".
  44. ^ "NYTimes: A Gun Show Raises Questions Beyond the Music".
  45. ^ "Village Voice: So Percussion Fights Tragedy with Empath".
  46. ^ "NYTimes: Where (we) Live by So Percussion at BAM".
  47. ^ "2wice - Fifth Wall".
  48. ^ "Wall-Breaking Moves, Fit for a Screen".
  49. ^ "Shen Wei News".
  50. ^ "Whitney Live - So Percussion".
  51. ^ Kozinn, Allan (2009-10-16). "Drummers Map an Imaginary City". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-23.
  52. ^ "So Percussion - playing 'Imaginary City' at BAM".
  53. ^ "Music for Trains".
  54. ^ Brown, Emma (2008-08-03). "The Rhythm of the Rails". The Boston Globe.
  55. ^ "So Percussion - Amid the Noise".
  56. ^ "2016 Bessie Award Recipients".
  57. ^ "American Music Trendsetters to be Celebrated" (PDF).
  58. ^ "ASCAP Adventurous Programming".
  59. ^ "CMA Past Recipients". Archived from the original on 2009-04-18.
  60. ^ "10th Annual ASCAP Concert Music Awards".
  61. ^ "So Percussion to bring the noise to UD".
  62. ^ "Shifty".
  63. ^ "The So-Called Laws of Nature".
  64. ^ "NPR Classical Calls So Percussion's "Threads" Best of Year".
  65. ^ "Caprichos Enfaticos".
  66. ^ "Cooking Timers, Golf Tethers, Windup Toys: It's all Rhythm".
  67. ^ "neither anvil nor pulley" (PDF).
  68. ^ "Mallet Quartet".
  69. ^ "Terminals".
  70. ^ "Dan Deacon, So Percussion revisit roots".
  71. ^ "MTC Studio".
  72. ^ "'man made' world premiere".
  73. ^ "Music for Wood and Strings".
  74. ^ "Timeline".
  75. ^ "Springs".
  76. ^ "Narrow Sea".
  77. ^ "Broken Unison".
  78. ^ "Songs That Are Hard to Sing".
  79. ^ "TORQUE".
  80. ^ "Forbidden Love".

External links[edit]