Sō Percussion and Friends
Part of: Fast Forward
·· Eric Cha-Beach
·· Josh Quillen
·· Adam Sliwinski
·· Jason Treuting
Nathalie Joachim, Vocalist
Dawn Upshaw, Soprano
Gilbert Kalish, Piano
Dominic "Shodekeh" Talifero, Beatboxer, Vocal Percussionist, and Breath Artist
Pan in Motion
NATHALIE JOACHIM Note to Self (World Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall)
CAROLINE SHAW Narrow Sea
DOMINIC "SHODEKEH" TALIFERO Vodalities: Paradigms of Consciousness for the Human Voice
JASON TREUTING Amid the Noise
Event DurationThe printed program will last approximately 90 minutes with no intermission.
At a Glance
In Sō Percussion’s previous concerts at Carnegie Hall, we have highlighted the surprisingly expressive potential of percussion, often with assistance from innovative musical thinkers like John Cage and Julia Wolfe. Early in our career, we were passionate about showing that percussion-only music could occupy an important space in the concert scene. As we pass the 20-year mark since our founding, that mission continues—and we have also permitted ourselves to take a look around and see what else percussion can do.
Time and again, that search has pulled us with gravitational force towards combining percussion with the human voice, two of the essential elements of human expression. All of the works on tonight’s program shine a spotlight on the voice, patterns of language, sound, and rhythm, traveling along a spectrum from abstract to lyrical.
For 20 years and counting, Sō Percussion has redefined chamber music for the 21st century through an “exhilarating blend of precision and anarchy, rigor and bedlam” (The New Yorker). The quartet is celebrated by audiences and presenters for a dazzling range of work: for live performances in which “telepathic powers of communication” (The New York Times) bring to life the vibrant percussion repertoire; for an extravagant array of collaborations in classical music, pop, indie rock, contemporary dance, and theater; and work in education and community, creating opportunities and platforms for music and artists that explore the immense possibility of art in our time.
In the 2021–2022 season, Sō Percussion returns to live concerts and continues to develop a range of online programs. Highlights include David Lang’s man made with Louis Langrée and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra; performances at the Big Ears Festival, including a new piece by Angélica Negrón with the Kronos Quartet; and Sō’s recent Nonesuch Records album Let the Soil Play Its Simple Part with Caroline Shaw.
In addition to Let the Soil ..., Sō welcomed a number of critically acclaimed albums in 2021: Shaw’s Grammy-nominated Narrow Sea on Nonesuch Records, A Record Of on Brassland Music with indie duo Buke and Gase, and Julius Eastman’s Stay On It on new imprint Sō Percussion Editions. This adds to a catalog of more than 25 albums that feature landmark recordings of works by David Lang, Steve Reich, Steve Mackey, and others.
During the 2020–2021 season of remote collaboration, Sō developed its innovative Flexible Commissions initiative through its New Works Development program, which asks composers to write pieces with multiple possible realizations, unlimited by specific instrumentation and able to be presented live or in online performance. Recent and upcoming Flexible Commissions include works by Bora Yoon, Darian Donovan Thomas, Claire Rousay, Kendall K. Williams, Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti, and Dominic “Shodekeh” Talifero.
Sō is in its eighth year as Edward T. Cone Performers-in-Residence at Princeton University. In addition to teaching chamber music, presenting concerts for the Princeton community, and collaborating with composers on new works, this year the members of Sō are working with Director of African Music Ensemble Olivier Tarpaga to design and teach a new course on rhythm. Offered as part of the undergraduate curriculum, this course introduces students to rhythmic practices from West African, Caribbean, European, South American, and North American traditions.
Since its first performance as a student ensemble in 1999, Sō Percussion has appeared at many of the most prestigious concert halls and festivals around the world. The quartet has been featured on WNYC’s Radiolab with Jad Abumrad, NPR’s Weekend Edition, NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concerts, and New Sounds with John Schaefer.
Rooted in the belief that music is an elemental form of human communication, and galvanized by forces for social change in recent years, Sō enthusiastically pursues a growing range of social and community outreach through its nonprofit organization. Its Brooklyn Bound concert series, now in its seventh year, provides a platform for artists. The Sō Percussion Summer Institute, which just completed its 13th year, is an intensive two-week chamber music seminar for percussionists and composers. SōSI features community performances, development of new work, guest artist workshops, and an annual food-packing drive that yields 25,000 meals. Sō has also devoted itself to a range of programs that advance goals and projects in diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. These efforts include a studio residency program in Brooklyn; partnerships with other local music organizations, such as Pan in Motion; the donation of proceeds from album sales to Black-led organizations, including Castle of Our Skins; fiscal sponsorship; and inclusive programming.
Sō Percussion uses Vic Firth sticks, Zildjian cymbals, Remo drumheads, Estey organs, and Pearl/Adams instruments.
Joining a rare natural warmth with a fierce commitment to the communicative power of music, Dawn Upshaw has achieved worldwide celebrity as a singer of opera and concert repertoire that ranges from the sacred works of J. S. Bach to the freshest sounds of today. In 2007, she was named a MacArthur Fellow, the first vocal artist to be awarded the five-year “genius” prize; the next year, she was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Upshaw’s acclaimed performances on the opera stage include the great Mozart roles as well as modern works by Stravinsky, Poulenc, and Messiaen. From Salzburg, Paris, and Glyndebourne to the Metropolitan Opera, she has also championed numerous new works created for her, including The Great Gatsby by John Harbison, Kaija Saariaho’s Grawemeyer Award–winning L’Amour de Loin and La Passion de Simone oratorio, and John Adams’s Nativity oratorio El Niño.
In her work as a recitalist—and particularly in her work with composers—Upshaw has premiered more than 25 works in the past decade, furthering this work in master classes and workshops. She is the head of the Vocal Arts Program at the Tanglewood Music Center and was the founding artistic director of the Vocal Arts Program at the Bard College Conservatory of Music.
A five-time Grammy Award winner, Upshaw is featured on more than 50 recordings, including Gorecki’s million-selling Symphony No. 3. Her discography also includes full-length opera recordings of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, Messiaen’s Saint François d’Assise, Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, John Adams’s El Niño, and an acclaimed three-disc series of Osvaldo Golijov’s music for Deutsche Grammophon. She received the 2014 Best Classical Vocal Solo Grammy for Maria Schneider’s Winter Morning Walks.
Through his activities as performer and educator, Gilbert Kalish has become a major figure in American music making. A native New Yorker, Kalish studied with Leonard Shure, Julius Hereford, and Isabelle Vengerova. He is a frequent guest artist with many of the world’s most distinguished chamber ensembles and was a founding member of the Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, a pioneering new music group that flourished during the 1960s and ’70s. Kalish is noted for his partnerships with other artists, including cellists Timothy Eddy and Joel Krosnick, soprano Dawn Upshaw, and—perhaps most memorably—his 30-year collaboration with mezzo-soprano Jan DeGaetani.
Kalish leads a musical life of unusual variety and breadth. As an educator, he is leading professor and head of performance activities at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. From 1968–1997, he was a faculty member of the Tanglewood Music Center, serving as chairman of the faculty from 1985–1997. He often serves as guest faculty at distinguished music institutions—such as the Banff Centre and Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute—and is renowned for his master classes.
Kalish’s discography of some 100 recordings encompasses classical repertory, 20th-century masterworks, and new compositions. Of special note are his solo recordings of Ives’s “Concord” Sonata and sonatas by Haydn, an immense discography of vocal music with DeGaetani, and landmarks of the 20th century by composers such as Carter, Crumb, Shapey, and Schoenberg. In 1995, Kalish was presented with the Paul Fromm Award by the University of Chicago Music Department for distinguished service to the music of our time.