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HBPA brings sonic possibilities to Bethel stage with percussion ensemble

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – A quartet of young Chicago-based musicians will bring striking sonic sounds to the opening event of the 2014-15 season of Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts.

Third Coast Percussion, which The New Yorker has called “vibrant” and “superb,” presents their program “Points of Contact,” works by composers of the 20th (and 21st) centuries, to Krehbiel Auditorium in Bethel College’s Fine Arts Center, Oct. 24 at 7:30 p.m.

Third Coast Percussion organized in 2005 to “explore and expand the extraordinary sonic possibilities of the percussion repertoire,” according to the ensemble’s website. Third Coast’s concerts and recordings “meld the energy of rock music with the precision and nuance of classical chamber works.”

These “hard-grooving” musicians (according to the New York Times) are known for collaborations across a wide range of disciplines, including concerts and residency projects with engineers at the University of Notre Dame, architects at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, astronomers at the Adler Planetarium and more.

In 2013, Third Coast Percussion became ensemble-in-residence at Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, the first to create a permanent and progressive ensemble residency program at the center.

In addition to performing multiple recitals annually as part of the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center’s Presenting Series season, the group spends about a month each summer living in South Bend, developing the projects they will bring to the DeBartolo stage during the coming year, and meeting with faculty and students.

The ensemble helps audiences appreciate, among others, the music of John Cage, Steve Reich, George Crumb, Arvo Pärt, Gérard Grisey, Philippe Manoury, Wolfgang Rihm, Louis Andriessen, Toru Takemitsu and Tan Dun.

Third Coast has also commissioned and performed world premieres by many of today’s leading composers, including Augusta Read Thomas, Timothy Andres, Glenn Kotche, David T. Little, Marcos Balter, Ted Hearne, former ensemble member Owen Clayton Condon and current member David Skidmore.

The group’s HBPA concert “Points of Contact” includes music by Cage, Condon, Reich, Skidmore and Thomas, as well as Tobias Broström, Thierry de Mey and Alexandre Lunsqui.

Third Coast’s recent and upcoming concerts and residencies include the Ecstatic Music Festival (New York), Atlas Performing Arts Center (Washington, D.C), the University of Chicago Presents, Ensemble Music Society of Indianapolis, the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Austin Chamber Music Festival, Millennium Park “Loops and Variations” (Chicago), the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage and more.

Third Coast’s passion for community outreach includes a wide range of residency offerings while on tour, in addition to a long-term residency with the Davis Square Park Community Band on Chicago’s South Side.

In addition to its national performances, Third Coast Percussion’s hometown presence includes an annual Chicago series, with four to five concerts in locations around the city.

Third Coast members – Sean Connors, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin and David Skidmore – among them hold degrees in music performance from Northwestern University, the Yale School of Music, the Eastman School of Music, the New England Conservatory and Rutgers University.

Reserved-seating tickets for Third Coast Percussion are available at the Hesston College Bookstore (620-327-8158) or through the HBPA website. Thresher Bookstore in Schultz Student Center on the Bethel campus (316-284-5205) is an outlet for general admission tickets.

Season tickets for HBPA 2014-15 are still available. Additional performances are Neil Berg’s 100 Years of Broadway (Nov. 7, Bethel College Memorial Hall), the St. Louis Brass (Jan. 29, 2015, Hesston Mennonite Church), The King’s Singers (Feb. 23, Hesston College Yost Center) and Trio Voronezh (April 15, Hesston Mennonite Church).

Third Coast Percussion’s appearance is funded in part by the cities of Hesston and North Newton; Excel Industries and Hustler Turf Equipment (Hesston); the Hesston Community Foundation; the North Newton Community Foundation; Hesston AmericInn; other area businesses and patrons; the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission (KCAIC), which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency; and the NEA itself.

KCAIC is funding the two-day educational residency Third Coast will conduct while in south-central Kansas, before the Oct. 24 concert.

Oct. 23, the ensemble will present “WAVES,” a music/STEM integration program, for 5th- and 6th-graders at Hesston Middle School.

The next day, Oct. 24, they will give a school outreach program for elementary-age children in Krehbiel Auditorium at Bethel College at 1 p.m., meet with the Bethel College Wind Ensemble during their regular practice period at 4 p.m. and provide a pre-concert lecture from 6:30-7:30 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium.

The Oct. 24 elementary school program and the pre-concert lecture are free and open to the public. Contact Karen Unruh at Hesston College, 620-327-8141, for more information.

The Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts series started in 1982 as Hesston Performing Arts (HPA) with funding and planning provided by Hesston College and the Hesston community. In 1998, HPA planners launched a partnership with Bethel College, and the series name changed to Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts. Hesston College in Hesston and Bethel College in North Newton host performances each year.

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