Third Coast Percussion

Ensemble-In-Residence 2013-2018

Our History

Hailed by The New Yorker as “vibrant” and “superb,” Third Coast Percussion explores and expands the extraordinary sonic possibilities of the percussion repertoire, delivering exciting performances for audiences of all kinds.

The Grammy-winning Chicago-based quartet, Third Coast Percussion, was the DeBartolo Performing Art Center’s Ensemble-in-Residence from 2013–2018. Their work in arts education and community engagement matched the Center’s growing focus on these service priorities. The quartet is also among the Presenting Series artists who helped propel Notre Dame’s reputation as an innovator in live music presentation and redefine the concert experience.

Through pioneering programs of contemporary music, by composing their own original works, and collaborating on Presenting Series world premieres with leading American composers—like Philip Glass—Third Coast produces great insights into the world of contemporary music for students and audiences. Through a number of multidisciplinary partnerships, Third Coast Percussion’s residency gave Notre Dame and K-12 students in-depth opportunities to develop richer skills and abilities not possible in the typical master class or workshop setting. That is their legacy as Ensemble-in-Residence.


Performances were made possible through the generosity of Shari and Tom Crotty. Also made possible by the Teddy Ebersol Endowment for Excellence in the Performing Arts and the Gayle A. and Steven C. Francis Endowment for Excellence in Creativity.

About TCP

Since its formation in 2005, Third Coast Percussion has gained international attention with concerts and recordings that meld the energy of rock music with the precision and nuance of classical chamber works.

The members of Third Coast Percussion—Sean Connors, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin, and David Skidmore—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.



Third Coast Percussion performs for the first time at the Center as a Presenting Series artist. The ensemble performs the world premiere of Resounding Earth composed by Augusta Read Thomas and co-commissioned by the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.

About Resounding Earth

Metals are exceptionally resonant sound sources, rich with vibrational possibilities. As such, artisans across time and earth have been inspired to sculpt metals into musical instruments. About 300 items of metal are incorporated into the instrumentation of resounding (re-sounding) earth that can be heard and imagined as a United-Nations-of-Resonances.

View the Program

Fall 2012

Third Coast Percussion

Third Coast Percussion is officially named the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center’s Ensemble-In-Residence. They are the first ensemble at the University of Notre Dame to create a multi-year and progressive ensemble residency program at the Center.

Read the Article

Summer 2013

Third Coast Percussion performs an original film score for The Red Balloon (1956) as part of the Center’s ANDkids World Film Festival.



Steve Reich Sextet

Third Coast performs Steve Reich’s Sextet for the first time at the Center. Later, the ensemble will win a Grammy for their album Steve Reich.

Considered by many to be America’s most influential living composer, Steve Reich is a pioneer of “minimalist” music—a term which, like many other musical style designations, is borrowed from the visual arts and applies better to some of Reich’s compositions than others. Reich borrows harmonies from jazz great John Coltrane and interlocking rhythms from the drums of Ghana. The result is music of long, sustained harmonies, clear driving pulse and ecstatic energy.

View the Program

Fall 2013

Third Coast Percussion performed the world premiere of Austerity Measures composed by Timo Andres and commissioned by the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.

“My music tends to spring from harmonic ideas, but in writing a large-scale piece for percussion quartet, I realized that the idea of harmony itself was only one of several paths I could take. The quality of percussion is often more “sound” than “note,” and when you get rid of notes, of course, you lose harmony. How, then, to present a coherent 25 minutes of music, freed from my faithful harmonic anchor?” — Timo Andres

View the Program

Spring 2014

Third Coast Percussion makes WAVES with more than 300 5th graders from South Bend area schools.

WAVES (Wonder, Arts, Vibration, Energy, Science) is an immersive pilot project that combines STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) with the arts.

The WAVES program continues to gain popularity as Third Coast Percussion tours around the nation.


The ensemble performs the world premiere of Wild Sound composed by Glenn Kotche and commissioned by the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.

About Wild Sound

Wild Sound challenges the distinctions that exist between music and noise, instrument and everyday object, performance, and daily life. Custom-made percussion instruments conceptualized by Kotche were designed and built by students and faculty at the University of Notre Dame’s School of Engineering. The field recordings—drawn from Kotche’s international touring as drummer for the Grammy-winning rock band, Wilco—create a narrative arc that draws the listener from the sounds of the natural world to the industrial sounds of modern urban life.

Fall 2014

Wild Sound performance

#WildSound Contest

The #wildsound Songwriting Contest was a United States songwriting contest created by the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center Presenting Series to celebrate the concept of found sound in new music. Inspired by Grammy-winning drummer Glenn Kotche’s ground-breaking composition Wild Sound written for Third Coast Percussion.

Submissions were judged on originality, melody, composition, and the use of found sound—sounds the songwriter recorded from everyday life or ordinary to extraordinary objects.

Judges included members of Third Coast Percussion, Glenn Kotche, and Eighth Blackbird’s Tim Munro. After the panel selected finalists, the public voted on the songs that made the cut.

1st place: Michael Pounds for “Collection (Short Version)”
2nd place: Nicolas Cline for “Grainstream”
Honorable Mention: Jackson J for “EcceRomani”


Third Coast Percussion member Robert Dillon’s new work Ordering-instincts is premiered and dedicated to the Center on the occasion of its 10th anniversary and to the team of diligent human beings who make it a place for the arts to flourish.

The ensemble also performs David T. Little’s concerto for 4 percussionists and orchestra, Radiant Child, featuring the South Bend Youth Symphony Orchestra.

View the Program

Spring 2015

Third Coast Percussion performs the Indiana premiere of Inuksuit scored for as few as nine and up to 99 musicians.

Ensemble member Sean Connors described the piece as “an intricately structured concert work, a beautifully hypnotic sound installation, an interactive work of performance art, and a communal music-making event like no other.”

The free outdoor concert is on the banks of the St. Joseph River. The performers, identified by t-shirts, moved freely about the space with “listening points” for visitors over the course of the composition’s five sections: “Breathing,” “Calls,” “Clangs,” “Waves,” and “Wind.”

Summer 2015

The ensemble performs the Midwest premiere of A Sound Uttered, A Silence Crossed composed by Nathan Davis and co-commissioned by the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.

About A Sound Uttered, A Silence Crossed

Composed for choir and percussion quartet, A Sound Uttered, A Silence Crossed explores the human desire to communicate and connect. Its six movements trace the human relationship with language over the course of a lifetime, from the sounds we hear in the womb, to the questions we wish we could ask our departed loved ones. Along the way, the piece moves through the discovery of shared meaning, the repetitive drills through which we learn to write, the standard pleasantries that make up much of our cultural vocabulary (which at times serve to both bring us closer and fend off closeness), and the overwhelming confusion or even entrapment in the very language we all work to master.

View the Program

Fall 2015

Donnacha Dennehy performs Surface Tension

Third Coast Percussion performs the world premiere of Surface Tension composed by Donnacha Dennehy and co-commissioned by the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.
“I was particularly interested in creating a kind of mobile pitch—space that shifted in and out of various overtone—based tonalities. This is a tall order for drums, instruments that are normally considered un-pitched … Actually realizing this strange idea took some work and I am deeply indebted to Third Coast for their assistance and their spirit of complicit adventure and experimentation.” — Donnacha Dennehy

View the Program

Spring 2016

Third Coast Percussion performing at the 2016-2017 Season Launch Party

Third Coast Percussion performs at the 2016–2017 Presenting Series Season Launch Party at the Center. The event, emceed by WNIT-TV host Kelly Morgan, also features music by Josh Aerie, executive director of The Music Village, and the dance troupe UZIMA!

Summer 2016

Music for 18 Musicians

Eighth Blackbird joins Third Coast in an all-Reich concert in celebration of the composer’s 80th birthday.

Featured works include Music for Pieces of Wood and Music for 18 Musicians.

View the Program

Fall 2016

Third Coast Percussion performs Goldbeater’s Skin, featuring mezzo-soprano Rachel Calloway, composed by Christopher Cerrone and co-commissioned by the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.

About Goldbeater’s Skin
Inspired by a collection of poems by GC Waldrep, Cerrone constructed this piece to be billowing yet always headed towards some kind of denouement. Like the poems, the music tells the story of companionship—whether deep friendship or love.

View the Program

Spring 2017

Third Coast Percussion wins their first Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music/ Small Ensemble Performance for the album Steve Reich released on Cedille Records. The album was recorded in the Center’s Leighton Concert Hall.

Read the Article



2017-2018 Season Launch performance

Third Coast Percussion performs a world premiere of qi by Augusta Read Thomas at the 2017–2018 Presenting Series Season Launch Party at the Center. The event, emceed by WNIT-TV host Kelly Morgan, also features conversations with Notre Dame faculty Alex Chavez and Fred Rush. Each co-curated an artist on the season.

Summer 2017

In C Third Coast Percussion

Third Coast Percussion leads a community performance of Terry Riley’s iconic masterpiece In C at Riley High School in South Bend as part of a partnership with the Bowman Creek Educational Ecosystem.

About In C

Composer Terry Riley launched what is now known as the Minimalist movement with his revolutionary classic In C in 1964. Its impact changed the course of 20th century music and its influence has been heard in the works of prominent composers such as Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and John Adams and in the music of Rock Groups such as The Who, The Soft Machine, Tangerine Dream, and Curved Air among others.


Third Coast Percussion performs a concert of commissions by the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, including The Other Side of the River, composed by British composer and jazz bassist Gavin Bryars.

About The Other Side of the River

The piece was written for a multi-media project entitled See You Later, produced by the Glasgow art house Cryptic for Peak Performances at Montclair State University, featuring Third Coast Percussion.

View the Program

Fall 2017

Paddle to the Sea performance

Third Coast Percussion performs a live score, composed collaboratively by the ensemble and interwoven with pre-existing music, for the 1966 film adaptation Paddle to the Sea.

About Paddle to the Sea

Based on the 1941 children’s book, the 1966 film follows a small wooden figure in a canoe on its journey from the waters of the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean and beyond, and the people, creatures, and environments it encounters along the way.

View the Program

Spring 2018

Third Coast Percussion Engagement

Third Coast Percussion winds down their residency with a WAVES workshop at South Bend school Dickinson Fine Arts Academy.

Summer 2018

Third Coast Percussion joins Philip Glass and Tim Fain for an evening of chamber music on March 30, 2019.

The percussion ensemble premieres a new works Perpetulum—composed for them by Glass and co-commissioned by the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.

About Perpetulum

“Structured in three continuous movements, with a cadenza between the second and third, Glass’ Perpetulum crystallized the best features of his compositional language: rhythmic propulsion, ever-shifting tone colors and easy accessibility.” (Chicago Tribune)

View the Program

Spring 2019