Third Coast Percussion

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Third Coast Percussion
Origin Chicago, Illinois
Genres Percussion
Years active 2004-present
Labels Mode Records
New Focus Recordings
New Amsterdam Records
Parlour Tapes
Members Sean Connors
Robert Dillon
Peter Martin
David Skidmore
Past members Owen Clayton Condon
Anthony Calabrese
Jake Nissly

Third Coast Percussion is an American percussion ensemble based in Chicago, USA.

The group, composed of Sean Connors, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin, and David Skidmore, specializes in new music/contemporary classical music and is known for its touring and recording activities that meld the energy of rock music with the precision and nuance of classical chamber works. Third Coast Percussion has become well known for its ground-breaking collaborations across a wide range of disciplines, including concerts and residency projects with engineers at the University of Notre Dame, architects at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, astronomers at the Adler Planetarium, and more. The ensemble enhances the performances it offers with new media, including free iPhone and iPad apps that allow audience members to create their own musical performances and take a deeper look at music.

Third Coast Percussion has been involved with the commissioning and premiere performances of many new works for percussion, including those by Augusta Read Thomas, Timothy Andres, Glenn Kotche, David T. Little, Marcos Balter, Ted Hearne, and ensemble members Owen Clayton Condon and David Skidmore.[1] The ensemble frequently collaborates with other musicians, ensembles, and organizations including Eighth Blackbird, Signal, the Garth Newel Piano Quartet, Hubbard Street Dance, the International Contemporary Ensemble, pianists Amy Briggs and Lisa Moore, cellists Nicholas Photinos and Tobias Werner, flautist Tim Munro, vocalist Ted Hearne, and video artists Luftwerk.

Third Coast Percussion is the Ensemble-in-Residence at the University of Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. They are the first ensemble at the University of Notre Dame to create a permanent and progressive ensemble residency program at the center. The ensemble performs multiple recitals annually as part of the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center’s Presenting Series season. Third Coast Percussion assumed the position of Ensemble-in-Residence at Notre Dame in 2013.

Third Coast Percussion has released albums on the Mode, New Focus, and New Amsterdam record labels.[2] Third Coast Percussion endorses and performs exclusively with Pearl/Adams Musical Instruments, Zildjian Cymbals, Remo Drumheads, and Vic Firth sticks and mallets.


In 2004, original members, Anthony Calabrese, Robert Dillon, Jacob Nissly, and David Skidmore were all percussionists with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, as well as students of Northwestern University. Along with their performance work with the ensemble, they formed a chamber percussion group that traveled throughout the Chicago area, performing at Chicago Public Schools and city colleges as an educational device. Although not using their signature title, it was from this humble engagement that the group Third Coast Percussion was created. Inspired by the strong percussion ensemble education and experience that they received at Northwestern, the group began working towards creating their own group, slowly setting themselves apart from any outside organization, in which they performed strictly chamber percussion music.

The first shows by Third Coast Percussion that were non-educational based were performed in the summer of 2005, the very first two being performed at Northwestern and the Music Institute of Chicago in Evanston. In the summer of that same year, the group took a slight turn when Jake Nissly left for graduate studies at Juilliard School of music As a result, Peter Martin, a Northwestern percussionist pursuing a doctoral degree, filled the spot in the group. In addition to Nisslys departure, member Anthony Calabrese would move on to concentrate on his school-work at Northwestern at the time. Former Member Owen Clayton Condon, an alumnus from Northwestern and professor at Northeastern, would take Calabreses place. This new and refined quartet (Condon, Dillon, Martin and Skidmore) would be the core group that would take the ensemble to the success that it has achieved today.

Rehearsing during the night at Northwestern and Northeastern University for a brief time, the group began tackling their goals as an ensemble. The unique concept of Third Coasts repertoire was something that the group developed early on, influenced by a series of restraints that they dealt with. As a young group, many of their gigs, such as performances at the Empty Bottle, were small venues with a limited amount of space to perform. This would put a restriction on the amount of instruments and the type of repertoire performed by the group. These restrictions were instrumental in the selection process of the music that Third Coast performed, as well as the development of the group’s style.

On February 12th, 2006, TCP played at the Neo Futurarium, a gig that turned out to break open the doors for the group. It was at this performance that they met Ethelbert Williams, now board member of TCP. Mr. Williams, an expert in marketing, was a member of the audience at this concert. Impressed with the ensembles performance, Mr. Williams decided to invite TCP to work with him. Ethelbert Williams was essential in helping to create a presentable package for the group that they could promote to the music world on a much broader scale.

Over the next eight years, the group evolved from solely acting as an educational group associated with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, to a full-time working music ensemble. Today, Third Coast is considered one of the leading chamber percussion groups in the country. As champions of both contemporary music and classic percussion repertoire, the group has garnered an increasing amount of attention as an important music group today through their critically acclaimed recordings, live performances, as well as their love and passion for education.


Third Coast Percussion has created strong ties to the community through their inspiring performances, as well as their commitment to education. Originally the purpose for TCP, the group continually makes musical outreach a very important part of their being, working in conjunction with many fine programs to help instill a sense of community wherever they perform. Third Coast has partnered with such groups as the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago’s MUSIcorps, University of Chicago Presents, Urban Gateways, and Rush Hour Concerts. They also give numerous clinics and outreach activities given both in Chicago and on tour.

Urban Gateways[edit]

Third Coast Percussion actively performs within the CPS school system through the Urban Gateways program. The Urban Gateways program delivers high quality education from leading professionals in the visual, technological and musical arts to the k-12 grades in Chicago. Their goal is to provide a well-rounded education for kids, to engage students in learning and to increase critical thinking. Third Coast has worked with this group for many years, providing master classes on the art of percussion to kids of all ages through performance of their repertoire and discussion. Their unique program offers a fun, hands on and interactive experience as they learn of the percussion world.

Holy Cross/Immaculate Heart of Mary Marimba Ensemble[edit]

As part of their work with the Rush Hour Concert series in Chicago, Third Coast Percussion along with Sones de Mexico, Axiom brass and Spektral Quartet, help provide joy and high quality education within lower resourced communities such as East Garfield Park and the Back of the Yards. Through this musical collaboration, Third Coast Percussion seeks to engage the students in the study of classical music, while also enriching the communities own musical traditions. Third Coast Percussion and the Back of the Yards marimba band perform for each other, which not only acts as an engaging study for the young students, but serves as important lessons for the group as well.

Notre Dame and the ndWaves Project[edit]

As a part of TCP's work with their residency at Notre Dame, the group has initiated a project known as the nDwaves Project, in which the group along with WILCO drummer Glenn Kotche and Engineering students from Notre Dame collaborate in order to create a strong connection between the arts and the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math). As an interactive program for students located in South Bend, Indiana, the nDwaves project hopes to instill how music is connected through the science of sound. Interactive workshops, which include coloring and drawing, physics of sound classes taught by Notre Dame students, as well as specially made electronic percussion instruments for the kids to play on, are all used to make learning the STEM subjects more enjoyable and relatable by connecting them to music.


Original Music[edit]

Fractalia (2011)-Condon

Common Patterns in Uncommon Time (2011)-Skidmore

Fanfare for a New Audience (2009)-Skidmore

In Contact (2006)-Skidmore

Double Helix (2005)-Condon

Quadruple Helix (2005)-Condon

Ritual Music (2004)-Skidmore

Echoes (2003)-Skidmore

Works Commissioned[edit]

Wild Sound (2014) -Glenn Kotche

Automatic Glitch (2014) -Ben Hjertmann

Improvisation in an Altered State (2013) -Ryan Ingebritsen

Austerity Measures (2013)-Timothy Andres

Gravity (2013) -Marc Mellits

Röckdöts (2013) -Dimitri Tymoczko

On Tenterhooks (2012-2013) -Christopher Fisher-Lochhead

Resounding Earth (2012)-Augusta Read Thomas

Haunt of Last Nightfall (2010)-David T. Little

Escoria (2010) -Otto Muller

Lost Compass (2010)-Anthony Pateras

Thaw (2009)-Ted Hearne

Fanfare for a New Audience (2009)-David Skidmore

Constellations (2008)-Kirsten Broberg

Dark Rooms (2007) - Marcos Balter

Deep Carving (2006)-Aaron Travers

Percussion Quartet (2006)-Mark Berger

Like A Sick, Breathing Tambura (2006)-Andrew McKenna Lee

We’ve Gotta Find It (2006)-Derek Jacoby

Percussion Quartet (2006)-Matthew Barnson


Ritual Music (2008) [3]

John Cage- The Works for Percussion, vol. 2 (2012)[4] [5] [6] [7]

Resounding Earth (2013)[8] [9]

Haunt of Last NightFall (2014)[10] [11] Unknown Symmetry (2013) [12]

External links[edit]