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Emerging Composers Partnership 2014-15

A hands-on percussion laboratory for emerging composers

The Latest Update

“Jonathan was killed in battle against the Philistines”

Posted on August 13, 2015 by Third Coast Percussion

After many months of collaboration and conversation, Third Coast Percussion premiered Jonathan Pfeffer’s new work in March at Constellation, Chicago’s hip new venue for experimental music. True to the spirit of the Emerging Composers Partnership, the project developed into something very unique that incorporated the personalities of the ensemble members, andstretched them in new directions as performers.

Jonathan was killed in battle against the Philistines ultimately became a piece of theater as much as a piece of music. Each of the four performers plays a character based on a different category of psychological defense mechanism, as outlined in the writings of psychologist George Vaillant. Interwoven with these archetypes are elements of the performers’ own personalities, with text drawn from Vaillant, pop culture figures like Mike Tyson and Metallica, and conversations between the composer and performers. The scenes that unfold are a reflection of the emotional struggle inherent in the creative process of all artists, and specifically Jon’s experience in the birth of this work, all contained in an other-worldly sonic landscape of Thai gongs, amplified kalimba, and feedback loops.

Enjoy the video excerpt above from the premiere! You can also read Jonathan’s full program notes about the work on our blog.

The work was performed as part of the first concert of a new initiative that Third Coast Percussion has dubbed “Currents,” which is specifically aimed at experimenting with new aesthetic territory and premiering works by emerging composers. This work, along with music by Mark Applebaum, and Tyshawn Sorey, and premieres of works by Adam Cuthbert and ensemble member Robert Dillon, set an adventurous, quirky tone for the new “Currents” series.

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Two Composers Selected for the 2015-16 Emerging Composers Partnership

Posted on December 22, 2014 by Third Coast Percussion

TCP has accepted applications for the next round of the Emerging Composers Partnership, and based on the enthusiasm and support for this initiative, we’ve decided to expand the program and work with two composers on new works that will premere in the 2015-16 season.

Out of an outstanding pool of 54 applicants (slightly more than last year), composers Katherine Young and Danny Clay have been selected to collaborate with TCP to create new percussion works. You can read more about Katherine and Danny here.  We’re looking forward to working with these unique artistic voices to create new percussion works over the next 12 months!

Workshopping Process Begins!

Posted on December 22, 2014 by Third Coast Percussion

Third Coast Percussion had its first workshopping sessions with Jon Pfeffer in November, experimenting with sound palettes and initial thematic sketches, and getting to understand each other’s artistic motivations. Jon came to TCP with a really unique combination of instruments- feedback loops, crotales, Thai gongs, kalimba, highly muted cymbals- and a very improvisatory approach that opened up a really unique sonic space unlike anything else in TCP’s repertoire.

Jon will be back in Chicago shortly after the new year for a few more days of workshopping. The new work will premiere at the University of Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center on February 21, 2015, and will be performed again as part of TCP’s Chicago Concert Season on March 15 at Constellation.


Third Coast Percussion is excited to continue its new Emerging Composers Partnership program in the 2014-15 Season. TCP began this new project in 2013 in an effort to provide the kind of hands-on collaboration with professional performers that is invaluable for a composer at the beginning of his or her career. Third Coast Percussion selects one emerging composer each season to work with in the creation of a new work for percussion quartet.

With the growing role of percussion throughout the new music world, the ability to compose for percussion is invaluable for a contemporary composer. With a vast array of percussion instruments and an endless range of possible techniques for playing them, hands-on collaboration is vital to the success of a composer writing for percussion. As one of the world’s leading percussion groups, Third Coast Percussion is thrilled to provide a laboratory for emerging composers to refine their style and discover their voice.

Young composers submit applications in the fall of each season, including a resume, questionnaire, letter of recommendation, and representative scores and recordings.  TCP selects one composer to write a new piece for percussion quartet, meets with the composer at least 3 times throughout the year to work together on the piece through readings, discussion and experimentation, and premieres the work as a part of its Chicago Concert Season. The composer receives a $1000 honorarium and a recording of their work.

The first work composed through this program was Ben Hjertmann’s Automatic Glitch, which will premiere at the Chicago Cultural Center on April 13, 2014. Composer Jonathan Pfeffer has been chosen to write a new work for the 2014-15 Season, which will receive its premiere in May of 2015.  Composers will submit applications in the fall of 2014 to compose a work for the 2015-16 season.

Third Coast Percussion plans to continue and possibly expand the Emerging Composers Partnership in future seasons, and there is a clear demand from composers; the first year drew over 50 applicants. It is important to Third Coast Percussion to provide this opportunity without charging composers an application fee, so this program is being funded entirely through Third Coast Percussion’s fundraising efforts.

Project Media

“Bodega” by Jonathan Pfeffer

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Jonathan Pfeffer is the composer selected to write a new work for Third Coast Percussion to premiere in the 2014-15 season, and many of the ideas in his “Bodega” are elements that he plans to further explore in the work he composes for this project. “Bodega” draws influence from sources as diverse as Brazilian Capoeira, Chicago Juke, and the music of Iannis Xenakis, while also attempting to capture the vibrancy and anxiety of the modern Urban landscape. Begin listening at 2:09.

Emerging Composers Partnership Flyer

Flyer advertising the first round of the Emerging Composers Partnership in 2013.

Start and End Dates



Chicago, Illinois

3 updates
Last update on August 13, 2015

Project Created By

Chicago, Illinois
THIRD COAST PERCUSSIONSean Connors   Robert Dillon   Peter Martin   David Skidmore Third Coast Percussion is a Grammy Award-winning Chicago-based percussion quartet. For fifteen years, the ensemble has created exciting and unexpected performances that constantly redefine the classical music experience. TCP maintains a busy tour schedule, with past performances in 36 of the 50…

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