Percussion is the primeval art of hitting stuff to communicate. For millennia humans have expressed themselves by striking wood with sticks, pounding on stretched animal hide with hands, and making music on metal. Percussion is likely the oldest of all musics, save the human voice and the songs of nature.
And here we each sit in a century of technological wonder... yet there are still people beating on pieces of wood, creating coordinated sounds through primal means.
Mantra Percussion brings this ancient art to our new century.
Committed to honoring the deep past and expanding the far-flung future of percussion music, Mantra brings to life new works for percussion by living composers, collaborates with artists from diverse genres and styles, and questions what it means to communicate by making music with and on percussive objects. They devote their collective energy toward engaging new audiences by challenging the standard concert format through evening-length events that look toward a grander artistic vision.
They strive for each performance to be a significant moment — their mantra.
Since forming as an ensemble in 2009, Mantra has been thrilled to be featured at festivals, venues, and universities throughout North America and in Europe including the Brooklyn Academy of Music, MATA Festival, Bang on a Can Marathon, National Public Radio, the Drogheda Festival, the River to River and Ecstatic Summer Festivals, Make Music New York, the Bang on a Can Summer Institute at MASS MoCA, Fast Forward Austin, Apple Store at Lincoln Center, the Carlsbad Music Festival, the Bowling Green New Music Festival, MIT with Bang on a Can All-Stars, Percussive Arts Society International Convention, X Avant Festival, Vancouver New Music, New Music New College, Moving Sounds Festival, Ear Heart Music, Hi Fi Music Festival, Wesleyan University, the University of Michigan, SMU Meadows School of Music, University of New Orleans, Northern Illinois University, Louisiana Tech, Southeastern Louisiana University, CalArts, Chapman University, SUNY Buffalo, Manhattan School of Music and others.
After co-commissioning Michael Gordon's evening-length percussion sextet Timber, Mantra gave the work's United States premiere in October 2011 and subsequently toured the work throughout North America. They also gave the New York premiere of Timber at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival in December 2012. Additionally, through their 3Nights series, they have commissioned Ted Hearne, Daniel Wohl, Tristan Perich, Paula Matthusen, Eric Wubbels, Alex Mincek, Sam Pluta, Zs, Xiu Xiu, and Ian Williams.
Mantra Percussion has been hailed by The New York Times as "finely polished...a fresh source of energy" and by TimeOut New York as "forward thinking"; the group was praised by The New Yorker and TimeOut New York for presenting one of the ten best classical performances of 2012.
Mantra recorded one of TimeOut New York's Ten Best Classical Albums of 2011, Aaron Siegel's glockenspiel octet (with organ), Science Is Only A Sometimes Friend on Lockstep Records, and Michael Fiday's Hands On! on Innova Records, which the UK's Gramophone magazine praised as "a disc to treasure..."