Sidelined by COVID-19 concert cancellations, Third Coast Percussion took their vibraphones and marimbas into their audience’s living rooms last Friday night with a live broadcast concert over YouTube. They will be presenting a second live concert this Saturday evening in conjunction with University of Chicago Presents, the 92nd St. Y in New York, and the Chamber Music Society of Detroit .
Not willing to be completely shut down by the pandemic, TCP are continuing live performances, but at a safe distance from their audience, if not necessarily from each other. To pull this off, they converted their practice space into a sound stage, with well-placed microphones and camera angles.
Last week’s excellent concert included Steve Reich’s Mallet Quartet from TCP’s Grammy-Award-winning album of that composer’s work. It also included Death Wish by Gemma Peacocke and Aliens with Extraordinary Abilities by TCP’s own David Skidmore.
With YouTube’s streaming and chat capabilities, the broadcast felt more like a happening than a concert. The performance was at 7:30pm, but the “doors” opened at 7:00, and people from all over the world were greeted with excerpts from Fields, TCP’s recent release on Cedille Records of music by Devonté Hynes, of Blood Orange fame. Two-way communications allowed TCP to explain each work before performing it and answering questions that audience members submitted during the broadcast. The live chat added a whole new dimension to a live performance, and many viewers joined in.
Earlier in the day, Peacocke, who lives in Brooklyn but is currently self isolating where she grew up in New Zealand, recorded a video explaining how Death Wish was inspired by a short film about survivors of sexual assault. She described one woman who felt her life spiraling out of control in the aftermath of that traumatic event. On Friday night Peacocke’s video was shown before her work was performed, but she was also watching and in the chat shared that she used tremolos to get this spiral feeling. It was quite a treat to have a composer provide commentary during a performance of her work.
While Friday’s concert was great, the opening was marred by a technical difficulty: no sound. This was quickly resolved.
Saturday night’s broadcast will include Devonté Hynes’ Perfectly Voiceless, a work released on Fields. It will also feature Philip Glass’ Perpetulum, the title work of another GRAMMY-nominated album, which will be accompanied by video of an interview with Glass. Music by Jlin and TCP’s Peter Martin will also be performed. The concert is March 28, 2020, at 7:00 pm, but the “doors” open at 6:30. It may be viewed here: chicagopresents.uchicago.edu, 92nd Street Y, and on YouTube: https://youtu.be/ucPNC9MrIes.