Third Coast Percussion Premieres Music By Devonté Hynes On FIELDS
Grammy Award-winning ensemble Third Coast Percussion plays music by international R&B and pop music star Devonté Hynes (aka Blood Orange) on their newest album, Fields, marking Hynes's recording debut as a classical composer.
Fields, released October 11, 2019, on Cedille Records, features world-premiere recordings of works adapted from music Hynes composed for Third Coast Percussion's 2018 collaboration with modern dance ensemble Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.
Orchestrated, arranged, and performed by Third Coast Percussion, the album's compositions include Hynes's multimovement For All Its Fury, which includes the title track "Fields," Perfectly Voiceless, and There Was Nothing (Cedille Records CDR 90000 192).
"Seeing what Third Coast Percussion has done with the pieces is magical," Hynes says in an online promotional video for Fields.
Hynes is also credited as a performer on tracks that incorporate prerecorded synthesizer passages originally intended for Third Coast's reference in orchestrating the scores, all of which Hynes composed in a digital audio workstation (DAW).
"The sounds that Dev created were so special and seemed exactly right for those moments," Third Coast member Robert Dillon said in an interview with Cedille Records.
Melodies and Minimalism
In the album's liner notes, Third Coast says Fields blends Hynes's "love of classical and minimalist music with many of the characteristic elements of his work as Blood Orange - lush and powerful synth pads, beautiful melodies, intricate, light, bubbly rhythmic structures."
In Perfectly Voiceless, Philip Glass-style minimalism gives way to a catchy pop melody. There Was Nothing blends synthesizer sounds with bowed mallet percussion instruments and moments of meditative lyricism that recall the music of Lou Harrison. The expressive harmonies within the gauzy textures of For All Its Fury point to Hynes's love of Claude Debussy.
Although Hynes is known primarily as a singer, songwriter, and producer in the pop music world, "The first music I ever played was classical," he says. He still considers classical music the foundation of his musical background, citing Debussy, Erik Satie, Giacomo Puccini, and Philip Glass as major influences on his sense of melody and timbre.
National Public Radio has long championed Hynes as "a composer who fits as comfortably in the worlds of R&B, gospel and electronics as he does in the classical world of someone like Philip Glass." In fact, Glass chose Hynes as one of four pianists to join him in performing his complete Etudes for solo piano at his historic 2018 debut at Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center.
Third Coast, longtime fans of Hynes's work as Blood Orange, met him through Emma Portner, one of the choreographers involved with the Hubbard Street Dance project. The percussionists were looking for a composer, and Portner, who'd worked with Hynes on his music videos, thought he'd be an ideal fit. She approached Hynes, who then visited Third Coast at their Chicago studio, and they forged a relationship.
Once the percussionists received Hynes's DAW-generated sheet music and reference recordings, each of the foursome worked on arranging and orchestrating a different section. They offered feedback on each other's work and eventually sent their versions back to Hynes and the choreographers.
"The creative process," the ensemble says, "was deeply collaborative."
Third Coast Percussion
Third Coast Percussion, whose 2016 Cedille Records album Third Coast Percussion | Steve Reich won the Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance, has been lauded for their "commandingly elegant" (New York Times) performances and the "rare power" (Washington Post) of their recordings. The Chicago-based percussion quartet maintains a busy tour schedule, with past performances in 33 states plus international tour dates in Colombia, the United Kingdom, Lithuania, Taiwan, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, and Poland.
Third Coast Percussion members are Sean Connors, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin, and David Skidmore. Their website is thirdcoastpercussion.com.http://thirdcoastpercussion.com
Critically acclaimed as a producer, multi-instrumentalist, composer, songwriter, and vocalist, Devonté Hynes is one of today's most influential voices in music. Pitchfork hails him as a "musical virtuoso" who has made a "monumental" impact on pop music. Raised in England and now based in New York, Hynes released two orchestral acoustic pop records as Lightspeed Champion. In 2011, he released Coastal Grooves, the first of four solo albums under the moniker Blood Orange. In addition to his production work, he scored the film Palo Alto, directed by Gia Coppola.
A highlight of Cedille's 30th anniversary season, 2019-2020, is its first-ever Emerging Artist Competition. Individual performers and ensembles from the Chicago area are competing for the opportunity to make a recording produced by and released on the award-winning label. Semifinal and final rounds of judging will take place in May 2020 during public performances by the contestants.
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