Preview | Sō Percussion at Music Academy Festival in Santa Barbara

Sō Percussion Appears in Key Contemporary Musical Role of the 75th Annual Music Academy Fest on Saturday, July 9, at Hahn Hall

Sō Percussion | Credit: Shervin Lainez

Percussion music, in a category and with a mission and ethos unto itself, has been an important development of “serious” music of the past century-and-change. This most pre-historic of music-making modes is also among the most modern and evolutionary sound/music fields.

And among the elite percussion ensembles making the international scene, a list including the UC San Diego–based red fish blue fish, Brooklyn’s Sō Percussion is one of the brightest stars in today’s new music cultural constellation.

Credit: Stefen Cohen

Suddenly, this supremely gifted, rooted and also game-for-anything group — formed in 1999 and going strong in 2022 — is headed to the 805 for significant appearances, starting on Saturday, July 9, at Hahn Hall. As the most forward-leaning contemporary visitor in this year’s 75th anniversary Music Academy festival, the ensemble is appearing as one of four special concerts in the luminous Mosher Guest Artist series.

Next spring, Sō Percussion returns to town in collaboration with innovative composer-vocalist Caroline Shaw and their Let the Soil Play Its Simple Part project, as part of the UCSB Arts & Lectures series announced recently.

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But the Hahn Hall show qualifies as a must-hear for existing believers and a fine primer for the as-yet uninitiated. Whereas next spring’s concert is devoted to the music of Shaw — one of many artists and composers the group works with — the Hahn Hall program showcases the ensemble itself and includes a world premiere of Collective Ungraspable by Robyn Cee Kay Jacob, a composer-in-residence at the Music Academy this year.

July 9’s concert also includes two works by Puerto Rico–born composer Angélica Negrón, whose enticing Moriviví just had its premiere earlier this month, in the finale concert of the L.A. Philharmonic season. Also on the multi-cultural program is music by Trinidadian composer-steel pan player Kendall Williams, capping things off with group member Jason Treuting’s Amid the Noise.

Even as they navigate their way through tours and travel dates, soon to include the 805, Sō Percussion retains a sense of rootedness at home in Brooklyn. Their “Brooklyn Bound” concert series features guests appearing in their home studio/personal space, in the Navy Yard area of Brooklyn. Theirs is a joyful, wise, primal, sophisticated and sometimes suitably raucous noise, worth savoring. 


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