For more than a decade, Sō Percussion has redefined the modern percussion ensemble as a
flexible, omnivorous entity, pushing its voice to the forefront of American musical
culture. Sō's career now encompasses 13 albums, tours throughout the US and around the
world, a dizzying array of collaborative projects, several ambitious educational programs,
and a steady output of its own music.
When the founding members of Sō Percussion convened as graduate students at the Yale
School of Music, their initial goal was to present an exciting repertoire of pieces by
20th-century luminaries such as John Cage, Steve Reich, and Iannis Xenakis. An encounter
with composer David Lang yielded their first commissioned piece, the so-called laws of
nature. Sō has since commissioned some of the greatest American composers of our time
to build a new repertoire, including Steve Reich, Steven Mackey, Paul Lansky, and Martin
Since 2006, the members of Sō Percussion have been composing in their own right for the
group and for others. In 2012, their third evening-length work Where (we) Live
premiered at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, traveling to the Brooklyn Academy of
Music's 30th Next Wave Festival and the Myrna Loy Center in Helena, Montana. Where (we)
Live followed on the heels of 2009's Imaginary City, a fully staged sonic
meditation on urban soundscapes. In 2011, Sō was commissioned by Shen Wei Dance Arts to
compose Undivided Divided, a 30-minute work conceived for Manhattan's massive Park
Sō Percussion's artistic circle extends beyond its contemporary classical roots. The group
first expanded this boundary with the prolific duo Matmos on their 2010 combined album
Treasure State. Further projects and appearances with Wham City shaman Dan Deacon;
legendary drummer Bobby Previte; jam band kings Medeski, Martin, and Wood; and Wilco's
Glenn Kotche drew the circle even wider. In 2011, the rock band The National invited Sō to
open one of its sold-out shows at New York's Beacon Theatre.
Sō's recording of the so-called laws of nature became the cornerstone of its
self-titled debut album on the Cantaloupe Music label in 2004. In subsequent years, this
relationship blossomed into a growing catalogue of exciting albums. In 2011, Sō released
six new albums, ranging from its definitive recording of Steve Reich's Mallet
Quartet-composed for the group in 2009-on Nonesuch Records to its collaborative album
Bad Mango with jazz trumpeter Dave Douglas on Greenleaf Music.
Sō Percussion is heavily involved in mentoring young musicians. Its members are
co-directors of a new percussion department at the Bard College Conservatory of Music. This
top-flight undergraduate program enrolls each student in a double-degree (bachelor of music
and bachelor of arts) course in the conservatory and Bard College, equipping them with
elite conservatory training and a broad liberal arts education. In 2009, the members
created the annual Sō Percussion Summer Institute on the campus of Princeton University.
The institute is an intensive two-week chamber music seminar for college-age
percussionists, featuring the four members of Sō as faculty in rehearsal, performance, and
discussion of contemporary music for students from around the world. During the 2011-2012
academic year, Sō was an ensemble-in-residence at Princeton University, teaching seminars
and collaborating extensively with talented student composers.
Sō has been presented at many of the major venues in the US, including Carnegie Hall,
Lincoln Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Stanford Lively Arts, and Texas Performing Arts.
In addition, a recent residency at the Barbican in London, as well as tours to Western
Europe, South America, Russia, and Australia have brought Sō Percussion international
Sound Design: Lawson White
Lighting Design: Aaron Copp
Managing Director: Emily Krell
Operations Manager: Yumi Tamashiro