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Third Coast Percussion 

When: Tue., Aug. 26, 5:45 p.m. 2014
At this concert, Chicago’s finest percussion group dedicated to new music will tackle Steve Reich’s 1985 piece Sextet with the help of keyboardists Amy Briggs and Daniel Schlosberg. The 28-minute work reflects many of Reich’s most enduring and characteristic ideas; its short figures for tuned percussion (marimba, vibraphone, crotales) mesh with cyclical piano and synth phrases in shifting, hypnotic patterns, while bows applied to the mallet instruments create complementary long tones. Reich weaves this mix of stabbing and sustained pitches into a spinning wheel of constant, kaleidoscopic variation, with changes in tempo or instrumentation arriving suddenly yet fluidly. (The performance will require the members of Third Coast Percussion to navigate among the instruments onstage with balletic precision.) The music’s patterns shift so frequently that listeners can focus their attention on, say, rhythmic transformations, switch between melodic and timbral variations, or even bounce among all three. The piece is airy in sound but dense in ideas, so the organizers of the Rush Hour Concert Series did well to put it on this evening’s program alone; it’s certainly an ideal way to leave the workday behind. —Peter Margasak

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