From Sō Percussion: “DRUMMING at 50”

So Percussion in performance

From Sō Percussion

Video Recording of Steve Reich’s DRUMMING with NEXUS, Sō Percussion, and Friends.

Hello friends,

Nexus and Sō Percussion are so excited to join together to make a historical video recording of Steve Reich’s Drumming. It is such a rare opportunity to gather up two of the world’s best percussion groups to celebrate Drumming turning 50 years old. This fabulous team includes Nexus, Sō, Yumi Tamashiro, Daisy Press, Beth Meyers, and Alex Sopp. We are asking you to join us in this historical event by contributing what you can to make this project come to life! We need money to cover the cost of making the video recording (video, audio, and record label production).

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Nexus. Silvia pasquetto

As some of you might know, Russell Hartenberger and Bob Becker are both original members in Steve Reich and Musicians–a group which Reich himself performed in, premiered the majority of the Reich repertoire, and toured the world together for decades. Russell and Bob learned Drumming directly from Reich and for us who have heard them in concerts, we can attest to that fact that they have perfected the art of phasing! The earlier renditions of Drumming were mostly taught by rote; Russell and Bob were among the most important figures for establishing the piece as a part of the percussion repertoire and have carried the torch of imparting wisdom on this work in the past five decades.

NEXUS, a Canadian cultural icon, is Bob Becker, Bill Cahn, Russell Hartenberger, and Gary Kvistad. Described by the New York Times as the “high priests of percussion”, NEXUS is “widely recognized as one of the most influential percussion ensembles to have emerged in the post-war period”.

With innovative multi-genre original productions, sensational interpretations of modern classics, and an “exhilarating blend of precision and anarchy, rigor and bedlam,” (The New Yorker), Sō Percussion has redefined the scope and vital role of the modern percussion ensemble.

Together, this world-class line up is going to make history and we invite you to be part of this history making project. Your donation is what makes this possible.
Risks and challenges

We have already filmed the project and editing is under way. We have the commitment from Cantaloupe Records to release the album as part of a larger recording project; this is of course wonderful, but the actual cost of production is not covered by the agreement.

We are slightly worried that no one will own DVD players by the time this DVD is ready to be released so we are also looking at other formats of release to make sure that people are able to view the recording when it hits the market.

Since this project involves 12 players, video team, and audio team, the cost of making this recording is higher than just making an audio recording. We are hoping that we can raise enough money to cover costs.

See the full article here .

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The “artist”

Adam Sliwinski has been a member of Sō Percussion since 2002. Adam is particularly interested in keyboard instruments, especially marimba and piano.

Eric Cha-Beach has been a member of Sō Percussion since 2007-A consummate percussionist he loves to learn new instruments like the musical saw integrating them into diverse setups

Jason Treuting is a founding member of Sō Percussion- Jason has pioneered an innovative drum set practice within the new music sphere. He is also a composer.

Josh Quillen has been a member of Sō Percussion since 2006- Josh is an expert Steel Drum artist having studied in Trinidad and immersed himself in Steel Band culture.

Our Mission:

Sō Percussion is a percussion-based music organization that creates and presents new collaborative works to adventurous and curious audiences and educational initiatives to engaged students, while providing meaningful service to its communities, in order to exemplify the power of music to unite people and forge deep social bonds.
Our Vision:

To create a new model of egalitarian artistic collaboration that respects history, champions innovation and curiosity, and creates an essential social bond through service to our audiences and our communities.
Ensemble Bio:

Sō is: Eric Cha-Beach, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski, and Jason Treuting

With innovative multi-genre original productions, sensational interpretations of modern classics, and an “exhilarating blend of precision and anarchy, rigor and bedlam,” (The New Yorker), Sō Percussion has redefined the scope and vital role of the modern percussion ensemble.

Sō’s repertoire ranges from “classics” of the 20th century, by John Cage, Steve Reich, and Iannis Xenakis, et al, to commissioning and advocating works by contemporary composers such as Caroline Shaw, David Lang, Steve Mackey, and Paul Lansky, to distinctively modern collaborations with artists who work outside the classical concert hall, including vocalist Shara Nova, electronic duo Matmos, the groundbreaking Dan Deacon, legendary drummer Bobby Previte, jam band kings Medeski, Martin, and Wood, Wilco’s Glenn Kotche, choreographer Shen Wei, and composer and leader of The National, Bryce Dessner, among many others.

Sō Percussion also composes and performs their own works, ranging from standard concert pieces to immersive multi-genre programs – including Imaginary City, Where (we) Live, and A Gun Show, which was presented in a multi-performance presentation as part of BAM’s 2016 Next Wave Festival. In these concert-length programs, Sō Percussion employs a distinctively 21st century synthesis of original music, artistic collaboration, theatrical production values and visual art, into a powerful exploration of their own unique and personal creative experiences.

Rooted in the belief that music is an essential facet of human life, a social bond, and an effective tool in creating agency and citizenship, Sō Percussion enthusiastically pursues a growing range of social and community outreach. Examples include their Brooklyn Bound presentations of younger composers; commitments to purchasing offsets to compensate for carbon-heavy activities such as touring travel; and leading their SōSI students in an annual food-packing drive, yielding up to 25,000 meals, for the Crisis Center of Mercer County through the organization EndHungerNE.

Sō Percussion is the Edward T. Cone Ensemble-in-Residence at Princeton University, where they offer educational work and present an annual series of concerts. They are also Co-Directors of the percussion department at the Bard College-Conservatory of Music, and run the annual Sō Percussion Summer Institute (SōSI, now in its ninth year), providing college-age composers and percussionists an immersive exposure to collaboration and project development.

One of the first things any group needs is a name. When our group was founded in 1999, we cast far and wide among our friends and family for suggestions. The winner was this simple, short word offered by Jenise Treuting, Jason’s sister.

Jenise has been living and working in Japan as an English-Japanese translator for 20 years. The word “Sō” was punchy, enigmatic, and memorable.

“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.”

– Jenise Treuting

John Schaefer

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