Cutting-edge percussion strides into the spotlight

10 September 2019

The sounds of over 60 percussion instruments from around the world, including drums, marimbas, conch shells, tin cans, cricket callers, wooden rulers and a lion’s roar (instrument), will fill the Great Hall at the Christchurch Arts Centre when the Grammy-nominated Los Angeles Percussion Quartet (LAPQ) takes to the stage on 23 September.


    The LA Percussion Quartet, with musicians Cory Hills, Justin DeHart Matt Cook and Nick Terry, play in venues from living room salons to concert halls. This month they will perform in New Zealand for the first time.

University of Canterbury (UC) Senior Lecturer Dr Justin DeHart, a founding member of the world-class contemporary chamber music quartet, is excited to bring the LAPQ to his new home city of Christchurch.

Since 2009, the group has forged a distinct identity that is dedicated to commissioning and presenting new works for percussion quartet.

“Percussion quartet has gained popularity over the last two decades with the advent of DIY chamber groups and the rise of post-minimal music making combining rock aesthetics with electronica and experimental genres,” Dr DeHart says.

“The dynamic as a musician in quartet is just pure fun; the give-and-take and communicative aspect of a more intimate group.”

For LAPQ percussion quartet has been an exciting medium to explore and commission new contemporary repertoire.

“Percussion still has an aspect of novelty, despite it coming out of from the back of the orchestra in the early 20th century,” Dr DeHart says.

“When people think of percussion, they think of loud repeated rhythm, and perhaps barbaric rituals. With our concerts, however, audiences will be able to experience an often neglected side of percussion – a side of percussion that is far more expressive, sophisticated and intriguing.”

A hugely versatile musician, Dr DeHart has performed with the San Diego symphony, Chinese pipa master Wu Man and various pop legends including Cheap Trick. He is an avid performer of contemporary percussion music, and has recorded solo, chamber and contemporary music with 12 labels including MCA, Sony, Sub Pop and Skunk Records.

This concert is LAPQ’s New Zealand debut and the second in a series of three concerts in partnership with UC’s School of Music and The Christchurch Arts Centre.

The LAPQ will also perform with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra on 21 September, in a programme that includes a work written for the quartet by UC lecturer and Adjunct Senior Fellow, James Gardner.

The Los Angeles Percussion Quartet performs at The Great Hall on 23 September, 7pm – 8.15pm. Tickets are $20/$10 unwaged, available online.

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