Track Premiere: Donnacha Dennehy’s Surface Tension Performed by Third Coast Percussion

Today, we are premiering Donnacha Dennehy‘s Surface Tension performed by Third Coast Percussion!

Surface Tension is one of two eponymous tracks from Dennehy’s upcoming New Amsterdam Records release: Surface Tension / Disposable DissonanceDisposable Dissonance features the Dublin-based Crash Ensemble, founded in 1997 by Dennehy and now recognized as one of Ireland’s leading contemporary music ensembles.

Surface Tension calls on the nuance and expertise of Third Coast Percussion, the Chicago-based percussion quartet whose portrait album of Steve Reich won the 2017 GRAMMY award for Best Chamber Music/ Small Ensemble Performance.

Here’s what Donnacha had to say about Surface Tension:

Surface Tension is a pretty intense, sweeping one-movement piece that I wrote for the wonderful Third Coast Percussion group. From the word go, I had a sonic image in mind of a large pulsating, shifting pitch world. Working together with Third Coast, I discovered from them that one could change the tension of the drumheads of tom-tom drums by attaching plastic piping into a hole on the side and blowing into the drum to tighten the skin of the head, thus raising the pitch.  In developing the piece, I even wrote breathing exercises for the group–happily they were game. This alternate tightening and slackening of the drumheads became the modus operandi of the piece–by using this method, I was able to gradually build pitch centers and travel between them.

Surface Tension / Disposable Dissonance is out June 28, 2019 on New Amsterdam records, but you can pre-order the album here.

About Donnacha Dennehy

The “magnificently energetic” (New York Times) composer Donnacha Dennehy writes music that is marked by a rhythmic and sonic intensity, and a kind of tonality that travels in and out of an overtone-based focus. His music has featured in festivals and venues throughout the world such as the Edinburgh International Festival; Carnegie Hall, New York; Muziekgebouw, Amsterdam; Barbican, London; and BAM, New York among many others. In addition to two operas with the writer Enda Walsh, The Last Hotel and The Second Violinist, recent large-scale pieces include The Hunger, a docu-opera for Alarm Will Sound, Broken Unison for So Percussion (commissioned by Carnegie Hall), Tessellatum for Nadia Sirota, Liam Byrne and microtonal viol consort, and pieces for Dawn Upshaw, Third Coast Percussion (co-commissioned by the Met Museum in New York and Notre Dame University), Kronos Quartet, and the Doric Quartet (co-commissioned by Wigmore Hall and Carnegie Hall). In June of this year, the LA Phil will premiere his piece Overcasting in their Green Umbrella Series.

He continues to maintain a close artistic connection with the group he founded, Crash Ensemble, and they feature in his recent operas. He is now at work on the third of his trilogy of operas with Enda Walsh. The second in the trilogy, The Second Violinist won the 2017 Fedora Prize for Opera (Salzburg/Paris) and was premiered in July 2017 at the Galway International Arts Festival. It has enjoyed subsequent productions at the Dublin Theatre Festival, the Barbican Theatre in London, and at the Opera Forward Festival in Amsterdam. Portrait albums of his music have been released by Nonesuch (Grá agus Bás), Cantaloupe, NMC and Bedroom Community. Three new recordings are forthcoming in 2019: The Last Hotel (Cantaloupe), Surface Tension / Disposable Dissonance (New Amsterdam) and The Hunger (Nonesuch). Dennehy joined the music faculty at Princeton University in 2014. His music is published by G. Schirmer, New York.

About Third Coast Percussion

Third Coast Percussion is a Grammy Award-winning, artist-run quartet of classically-trained percussionists hailing from Chicago. For over ten years, the ensemble has forged a unique path in the musical landscape with virtuosic, energetic performances that celebrate the extraordinary depth and breadth of musical possibilities in the world of percussion. The ensemble has been praised for “commandingly elegant” (New York Times) performances, the “rare power” (Washington Post) of their recordings, and “an inspirational sense of fun and curiosity” (Minnesota Star-Tribune). The four members of Third Coast are also accomplished teachers, and from 2013-2018 served as ensemble-in-residence at the University of Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.

Third Coast Percussion maintains a busy touring schedule both in the USA and abroad. The ensemble has collaborated with engineers at the University of Notre Dame, architects at the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, dancers at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and musicians from traditions ranging from the mbira music of Zimbabwe’s Shona people, to indie rockers, to some of the world’s leading concert musicians. The ensemble has commissioned and premiered dozens of new works from composers including Philip Glass, Augusta Read Thomas, Devonté Hynes, Donnacha Dennehy, Glenn Kotche, and more.