Thursday, February 13, 7pm

Bana Haffar and Third Coast Percussion

Grammy-winning Chicago-based percussion ensemble Third Coast Percussion and composer Bana Haffar debut the newly commissioned Shed for percussion and modular synthesizer. Drawing from the rich legacy of Anni Albers, Haffar engages with the materiality of sound, the essence of cloth, and the symbiosis of the machine and handmade by transposing standard weaving draft notation into musical scores. The concert will also include works by Guggenheim Fellow Augusta Read Thomas, Robert Dillon, and Mark Applebaum.


Third Coast Percussion is a Grammy Award-winning Chicago-based percussion quartet. For fifteen years, the ensemble has created exciting and unexpected performances that constantly redefine the classical music experience. The ensemble has been praised for “commandingly elegant” (New York Times) performances, the “rare power” (Washington Post) of their recordings, and “an inspirational sense of fun and curiosity” (Minnesota Star-Tribune). Third Coast Percussion maintains a busy tour schedule, with past performances in 34 of the 50 states plus international tour dates in Colombia, the United Kingdom, Lithuania, Taiwan, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, and Poland.

A commission for a new work from composer Augusta Read Thomas in 2012 led to the realization that commissioning new musical works can be—and should be—as collaborative as any other artistic partnership. Through extensive workshopping and close contact with composers, Third Coast Percussion has commissioned and premiered new works by Philip Glass, Jlin, Tyondai Braxton, Augusta Read Thomas, Devonté Hynes, Georg Friedrich Haas, Donnacha Dennehy, Glenn Kotche, Christopher Cerrone, David T. Little and today’s leading up-and-coming composers through their Emerging Composers Partnership Program. TCP’s commissioned works have become part of the ensemble’s core repertoire and seen hundreds of performances across four continents.

Bana Haffar (photo by Alex Kacha)
Anni Albers (Faculty Weaving and Textile Design 1933-1949) (b.1899-d.1994) Untitled, 1950 Cotton and bast Promised Gift to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas  On view through April 25, 2020 at BMCM+AC
Score study for "Shed" courtesy of Bana Haffar


A lifelong expatriate, Bana Haffar was born in Saudi Arabia in 1987 and spent much of her childhood in the GCC. Through her switch from electric bass to modular synthesizers in 2014, Bana is attempting to dismantle years of institutional ‘conditioning’ in traditional systems of music theory and performance. She is interested in exploring sonic disintegration and coalescence into new forms and synthesized experiences. She is currently engaging with the materiality of sound, the essence of cloth, and the symbiosis of the machine and handmade by transposing weaving draft notation into graphic scores and rhythmic sequencing.

“When I was approached by Black Mountain College Museum to compose a piece for Third Coast Percussion, I immediately turned to Anni Albers’ On Weaving, a book that had been waiting patiently on my studio desk for several months. Mystified by the meticulously hand drawn matrices in her book, I knew I had to attempt to translate these images into sound. And so began the journey into the unknown world of weaving and the quest for the materiality of sound.

“Anni Albers’ writings were touchstones throughout the process. The motifs of surrendering to the well of creative freedom within self-selected limitations, developing a closeness with materials, and following one’s personal line of intuition to its terminus were revisited often in her texts. Shed grew out of these broad themes. The symbiosis of the machine and the handmade was the next line of thought, followed by the revelation of repetition as vehicle for dissolution – a notion that seemed to be implicitly understood in the craft realm. Finally came the transformation in meaning of the word shed, moving it from noun to verb, pushing beyond a technical term in weaving to a directive.

“The simplicity in repetition and the profound focus I sensed in Anni Albers’ work formed the basis of the quest for the materiality of sound, rather than its musical meaning, and its transformation into a singular and intangible craft object.” – Bana Haffar


Image credit (top to bottom): Third Coast Percussion, courtesy of perfomers | Third Coast Percussion performs Philip Glass’ “Madeira River,” filmed and editted by Vic Furth | Bana Haffar, photo by Alex Kacha | Anni Albers (Faculty Weaving and Textile Design 1933-1949) (b.1899-d.1994), Untitled, 1950. Cotton and bast. Promised Gift to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. On loan to BMCM+AC through April 25, 2020 | Score sketch of “Shed,” courtesy of Haffar