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.