Outside The Box
March 24–31 | 2023
Now in its sixteenth year, Outside The Box builds on its legacy as an exceptional annual new music festival and concert series. Composers and performers of international acclaim join forces with members of the SIU School of Music performance faculty to create an atmosphere of exciting, engaging, contemporary concert music. All events are free and open to the public. Please join us!
Schedule of Events»
Third Coast Percussion
A direct connection with the audience is at the core of all of Third Coast Percussion’s work, whether the musicians are speaking from the stage about a new piece of music, inviting the audience to play along in a concert or educational performance, or inviting their fans around the world to create new music using one of their free mobile apps.
The four members of Third Coast are also accomplished teachers, and make active participation by all students the cornerstone of all their educational offerings. The quartet’s curiosity and eclectic taste have led to a series of unlikely collaborations that have produced exciting new art.
The ensemble has worked with engineers at the University of Notre Dame, architects at the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, dancers at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and musicians from traditions ranging from the mbira music of Zimbabwe’s Shona people, to indie rockers and footwork producers, to some of the world’s leading concert musicians. Third Coast Percussion served as ensemble-in-residence at the University of Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center from 2013—2018, and currently serves as ensemble-in- residence at Denison University. 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, Missy Mazzoli, Danny Elfman, Jlin, Gemma Peacocke, Flutronix, Tyondai Braxton, Clarice Assad, Sérgio Assad, 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 Currents Creative Partnership program. TCP’s commissioned works have become part of the ensemble’s core repertoire and seen hundreds of performances across four continents.
Third Coast Percussion’s recordings include fourteen feature albums, and appearances on eleven additional releases. The quartet has put its stamp on iconic percussion works by John Cage and Steve Reich, and Third Coast has also created first recordings of commissioned works by Philip Glass, Augusta Read Thomas, Danny Elfman, Jlin, Devonté Hynes, Gavin Bryars, Donnacha Dennehy, David T. Little, Ted Hearne, and more, in addition to recordings of the ensemble’s own compositions. In 2017 the ensemble won the Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance for their recording of Steve Reich’s works for percussion. Third Coast has since received three additional Grammy nominations as performers, and in 2021 they received their first Grammy nomination as composers.
Third Coast Percussion has always maintained strong ties to the vibrant artistic community in their hometown of Chicago. They have collaborated with Chicago institutions such as Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, the Chicago Children’s Choir, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Chicago Humanities Festival, and the Adler Planetarium. TCP performed at the grand opening of Maggie Daley Children’s Park, conducted residencies at the University of Chicago and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, created multi-year collaborative projects with Chicago-based composers Augusta Read Thomas, Glenn Kotche, and chamber ensemble Eighth Blackbird, and has taught tens of thousands of students through partnerships with The People’s Music School, the Chicago Park District, Rush Hour Concerts, Urban Gateways, and others.
The four members of Third Coast Percussion (Sean Connors, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin, and David Skidmore) met while studying percussion music at Northwestern University with Michael Burritt and James Ross. Members of Third Coast also hold degrees from the Eastman School of Music, Rutgers University, the New England Conservatory, and the Yale School of Music. The quartet’s curiosity and eclectic taste have led to a series of unlikely collaborations that have produced exciting new art.
The works of Dana Wilson have been commissioned and performed by such diverse ensembles as the Chicago Chamber Musicians, Formosa Quartet, Xaimen Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Memphis Symphony, Dallas Wind Symphony, Voices of Change, Netherlands Wind Ensemble, Syracuse Symphony, and Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra. Solo works have been written for such renowned artists as hornists Gail Williams (international soloist, formerly with the Chicago Symphony) and Adam Unsworth (international soloist, formerly with the Philadelphia Orchestra), clarinetist Larry Combs (international soloist, formerly with the Chicago Symphony), trumpeters James Thompson (formerly with the Atlanta Symphony) and Rex Richardson (international jazz soloist), oboist David Weiss (international soloist, formerly with the Los Angeles Philharmonic), and Canadian Brass.
Dana Wilson has received grants from, among others, the National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts, New York State Council for the Arts, Arts Midwest, and Meet the Composer. His compositions have been performed throughout the United States, Europe, East Asia and Australia, and are published by Boosey and Hawkes.
He holds a doctorate from the Eastman School of Music, and is currently Charles A. Dana Professor of Music Emeritus in the School of Music at Ithaca College. He is co-author of Contemporary Choral Arranging, published by Prentice Hall, and has written on diverse musical subjects, including his own compositional process in A Composer’s Insight and Composers on Composing for Band. He has been a Yaddo Fellow (at Yaddo, the artists’ retreat in Saratoga Springs, New York), a Wye Fellow at the Aspen Institute, a Charles A. Dana Fellow, and a Fellow at the Society for Humanities, Cornell University.
Stephen Andrew Taylor
Stephen Andrew Taylor composes music that explores boundaries between art and science. His first orchestra commission, Unapproachable Light, inspired by images from the Hubble Space Telescope and the New Testament, was premiered by the American Composers Orchestra in 1996 in Carnegie Hall. Other works include the chamber quartet Quark Shadows, commissioned by the Chicago Symphony and premiered in 2001; and Seven Memorials, a half-hour cycle for piano inspired by the work of Maya Lin, featured at Tanglewood in 2006 with pianist Gloria Cheng. The Machine Awakes, a CD of his orchestra, chamber and electronic music was released in 2010 on Albany Records. Paradises Lost, an opera based on a novella by Ursula K. Le Guin, received its Canadian premiere in 2013, conducted by the composer. In 2015 the New York Times called his piano work Variations Ascending, premiered by Ian Hobson, “persuasive and powerful.”
Taylor also works with live electronics in pieces such as Inspiral for contraforte and 4-channel surround sound, premiered by Henry Skolnick in South Korea in 2019; and Ocean of Air (2017) for Detroit Symphony principal trombonist Kenneth Thompkins. He conducts the Illinois Modern Ensemble, and has also appeared as conductor with Sinfonia da Camera, the Nouveau Classical Project, and the Arizona Chamber Music Festival. As a theorist, he has written and lectured on data sonification, György Ligeti, African rhythm, Björk and Radiohead. In popular music he has collaborated on concerts and albums with Pink Martini, Lang Lang, Jimmie Herrod, rock singer Storm Large, The Von Trapps, and cabaret/performance artist Meow Meow; his arrangements have been performed by orchestras worldwide, including the Oregon Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, the National Symphony (Kennedy Center), the Cleveland Orchestra, the BBC Concert Orchestra, and the Chicago Symphony.
Born in 1965, he grew up in Illinois and studied at Northwestern and Cornell Universities, and the California Institute of the Arts; his teachers include Steven Stucky, Karel Husa, Mel Powell, Bill Karlins and Alan Stout. His music has won awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Howard Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Conservatoire Américain de Fontainebleau, Composers, Inc., the Debussy Trio, the Howard Foundation, the College Band Directors National Association, the New York State Federation of Music Clubs, the Illinois Arts Council, the American Music Center, and ASCAP. Among his commissions are works for Northwestern University, University of Illinois, the Syracuse Society for New Music, the Jupiter Quartet, the Spoleto Festival, Pink Martini and the Oregon Symphony, the Quad City Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, Quartet New Generation, Piano Spheres, and the American Composers Orchestra. Taylor is Professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he lives with his spouse, artist Hua Nian.
The handful of people who know this kind of music call it free improvisation, but the rest of the world might say "experimental jazz," or even noise. This group played on tour for several years, mainly in the Midwest and Southeast, and after seven years has the chance to do it again. Wrest is restless, using all their imagination each show to do something stranger than we did the night before.
"Wrest-ing never does serious bodily harm but might scare your aunties and inlaws out of the room real quick. Sound and magic tricks on sax, floor percussion, bass. What happened? We don't know what we're doing until we're doing it."
The three musicians of Wrest live in Easton PA, Knoxville TN and Philadelphia respectively, and come together several times a year, often with guitarist Zach Darrup. They began as a collaboration in Chicago in 2012 and played several shows on their way east. Their fifth tour was three weeks, and took them as far west as Lincoln, NE, and north to Minneapolis, MN, in April–May 2015.
Jack Wright is a veteran saxophone improviser based mainly in Philadelphia. Since the early 1980s he has been touring through the US and Europe, finding interesting partners and playing situations. Now pushing 80 he is still touring widely, engaged with players outside music school careerdom and mostly unknown to the music press. His influence has extended through writings, most recently The Free Musics, published in 2017. As for his playing, he possibly has the widest vocabulary of any saxophonist, an expert at leaping pitches, punchy, precise timing, sharp and intrusive multiphonics, surprising gaps of silence, and sounds often animalistic and obscene. A reviewer for the Washington Post said, "In the rarefied, underground world of experimental free improvisation, saxophonist Jack Wright is king."
Evan Lipson (b. 1981) has lived with the incurable disease of music since early adolescence, seeking the liminal realms in which intellect and instinct, history and myth, and creative and destructive force intersect. Drawn towards aberrant perspectives at an early age, his formative experiences were primarily rooted in extreme and discordant forms stemming from various traditions of “underground” and ancient musics. He may or may not have some degree of affiliation with Rev. Fred Lane and an organization known as MEINSCHAFT. Other active outfits at present include RAWL, SONS, Wrest, Roughhousing, Virtual Balboa, and a variety of collaborations with David Greenberger (Duplex Planet).
“Lipson easily stands among the best bassists I’ve heard lately, his terrifically strapping tone epitomizing the decision to really learn how an instrument works.”—Massimo Ricci (Touching Extremes)
Ben Bennett is a Philadelphia-based percussionist. He usually plays a compact pile of self-made drums, stretched membranes, and other objects which are continually rearranged in the course of playing, and sounded with techniques of the hit, rub, and blow varieties. A branching path of musical de-materialization has led to other forms of performance, including self-vitiating monologues, and the long and repetitive YouTube series, Sitting and Smiling and Walking and Talking. His work tends toward themes of pointlessness, paradox, and stupidity.
“The enigmatic musician and artist Ben Bennett has a mind-bogglingly wide variety of fascinating work that covers both poles of extremes. As a percussionist, his improvised performances are wild, exciting and constantly changing, using an arsenal of drums, cymbals, homemade instruments and found objects that are struck, rubbed or vibrated using air from his lungs, unlocking hidden universes of unfamiliar sounds.” —Ernie Paik
Emily Rach Beisel
Emily Rach Beisel is a Chicago-based improvisor, composer, educator, curator and woodwind specialist. She is known for her visceral performances combining extended instrumental techniques with heavy amplification and timbral effects. Her solo work frequently explores the intersection between avant-garde art music and extreme metal genres such as mathcore, doom, and death metal. As a curator, Beisel seeks to increase the visibility and involvement of women and nonbinary artists in the creative music community. She founded the Pleiades Series at Elastic Arts, presenting monthly performances along with a community-based free improvisation jam for femme and nonbinary performers.
Rach Beisel is a member of the contemporary ensemble Fonema Consort, touring most recently in Brazil, Mexico, Minneapolis and New York and premiering works of living composers including James Dillon, Richard Barrett and Julio Estrada. Rach Beisel also works as a woodwind doubler at Chicago-land theaters including the Marriott Theater, Paramount Theater and multiple productions with Chicago's feminist Firebrand Theater Company. As an educator, Rach Beisel maintains a private studio in addition to her teaching positions at Harold Washington College and Oak Park School of Music.
Emily holds her Master of Music degree from Northwestern University and is a member of the American Federation of Musicians Local 10-208.
Paul Hertz is an independent artist, printmaker, and curator who works with algorithmic processes. From 1971 to 1983, he lived and worked in Spain, where he collaborated with actors and musicians. He earned a BA in Fine Arts from Brown University (1971) and an MFA in Time Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1985), where he was a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Studies in Art and Technology. He taught courses in the theory, practice, and art history of new media at Northwestern University (1995–2004) and at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2011–2018). Hertz’s curatorial work includes Second Nature (1999) for the City of Chicago’s Project Millennium, all.go.rhythm (2015) and glitChicago (2014), all at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art in Chicago, and Imaging by Numbers (2008) at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum, Northwestern University. La Finca/The Homestead (1995), one of the earliest art exhibitions on the WWW, with works by seven artists and critics, was exhibited at Northwestern University and the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, Valencia, Spain.
Hertz has exhibited his archival pigment prints and interactive installations at numerous international media festivals, conferences, and symposia. His large scale glass mural “A Chance Encounter of Measure and Continuity” (2016) is featured in the headquarters of the National Science Foundation, Alexandria, Virginia. His recent virtual reality installation, “Fools Paradise,” toured international venues (2017–2020). He lives and works in Chicago.
In addition to visiting composers and artists, the 2023 concerts feature performances by members of the fantastic SIU School of Music Faculty:
- Joseph Bauer, Bass
- Christopher Butler, Percussion
- Jessica Butler, Trombone
- Rossana Cauti, Viola
- Susan Davenport, Conductor
- Anthony Gray, Piano
- Sean Harold, Composer/Guitar
- Yuko Kato, Piano
- Richard Kelley, Saxophone
- Eric Mandat, Clarinet
- Christopher Morehouse, Conductor
- Christopher Walczak, Composer
- Douglas Worthen, Flute