LIVE BROADCAST: Third Coast Percussion Paddles to the Sea

by Maggie Molloy

Second Inversion presents a LIVE broadcast of Third Coast Percussion performing their original score for Paddle to the Sea, streaming worldwide this Thursday, Jan. 25 at 8pm PST. Click here to tune in.

A small wooden figure in a canoe is the protagonist of Holling C. Holling’s 1941 children’s book, Paddle to the Sea. Later adapted into an Oscar-nominated film, the story follows the epic journey of a small wooden boat that was carved and launched by a young Native Canadian boy.

“I am Paddle to the Sea” he inscribes on the bottom of the boat. “Please put me back in the water.”

Over the course of the film, the boat travels for many years from Northern Ontario through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway out to the Atlantic Ocean and far beyond—and each time it washes ashore, a kind stranger places it back in the water.

This Thursday Third Coast Percussion performs their own original live score for Paddle to the Sea alongside a screening of the film at Meany Center for the Performing Arts. The music will be released as an album on Feb. 9—but you can get an exclusive first listen during Second Inversion’s LIVE broadcast of the performance this Thursday, Jan. 25 at 8pm PST. (Streaming worldwide! Click here to tune in.)

Third Coast’s film score is inspired by and interspersed with music by Philip Glass and Jacob Druckman, along with traditional music of the Shona people of Zimbabwe. All of the music in the score is inspired by water, with Third Coast performing an entire ocean of sounds ranging from pitched desk bells to skittering wood blocks, ceramic tiles, bowls of water, and one particularly special instrument: the mbira.

The mbira is a thumb piano that plays a leading role in the Shona music from Zimbabwe. In fact, one of the pieces on the album, Chigwaya, is a traditional song used to call water spirits in the Shona religion—a song which was taught to Third Coast by their mentor Musekiwa Chingodza. By incorporating elements of their Western classical training with their study of the traditional music of the Shona people, Third Coast weaves together their own epic musical journey.

And in the spirit of Holling’s original story, the music itself becomes the small wooden boat: rather than keep it for themselves, the musicians add what they can and send the story out into the world again for others to discover.

Third Coast Percussion performs Paddle to the Sea on Thursday, Jan. 25 at 8pm at Meany Center for the Performing Arts. Click here for tickets and additional information.

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