Alumni percussion ensemble wins a Grammy

Kelley Czajka, A&E Editor

Third Coast Percussion, a classical percussion ensemble comprising four NU alumni, took home a Grammy award Sunday night. Its album “Steve Reich” won the award for Best Chamber Group/Small Ensemble Performance.

This was the first time the group had been nominated for or awarded a Grammy, as well as the first time any percussion group has won a chamber music category, Third Coast member Robert Dillon said.

“We’re very proud of the work that we’ve done and are thrilled to have the honor, but we also definitely recognize that for music, it’s something that’s passed down from one generation to the next through teachers and mentors of all kinds,” Dillon said.

Dillon said the group credits preexisting percussion ensembles, as well as its mentors and experiences at Northwestern, with introducing them to this type of percussion music and giving them a foundation to build upon and take forward into the mainstream music scene.

Moments before accepting their award, Third Coast took the stage with jazz saxophonist Ravi Coltrane to perform Steve Reich’s “Mallet Quartet III (Fast).” The piece was one they play regularly, but the stakes were much higher this time, Coltrane said.

“It was a unique collaboration and something that felt kind of once-in-a-lifetime: to be able to perform with him in that space on that stage and just know that our friends and family all over the place are watching this,” Coltrane said.

Dillon said the Grammy will serve as a “stamp of approval” that will hopefully help expose the group to future collaborators and anyone who would want to present their music.

“It was something we were really excited about the prospect of with no idea of (if) it was realistic to actually do,” Dillon said. “How do we get bigger and better from here? … It feels like there are so many possibilities now, and we need to keep pushing forward.”

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