Third Eye Orchestra

“…a thrilling 75-minute display that combined individual virtuosity in a cohesive and fun-filled framework.”

 – Irwin Block / Avant Music News

Recent Concert:

Saturday, May 16th, 3pm, at FIMAV / Victoriaville Festival, Colisée

With Shelley Hirsch (voice), Dafna Naphtali (live sound processing, voice), Mari Kimura (vio), Sarah Bernstein (vio), Jason Hwang (vla), Tomas Ullrich (cello), Ned Rothenberg (cl, bcl), Michael Lytle (cl, bcl, contra bass clarinet), Briggan Krauss (as, baritone sax), Robert Dick (flutes, piccolo), Denman Maroney (p/kb), Shoko Nagai (kb/moog), Nick Didkovsky (g), Stomu Takeishi (b), Satoshi Takeishi (perc), Hans Tammen (composition, live arranging).

Travel support for the performance at FIMAV is provided by Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant!

Photo: Martin Morissette
Photo: Martin Morissette

“Everything about Third Eye Orchestra… indicates mastery and control”

Howard Mandel / CD Liner Notes

Hans Tammen heavily borrows from Charles Ives’ polytonality, Steve Coleman’s rhythmic complexity, Karlheinz Stockhausen’s organization of sounds and Earle Brown’s approach to form – to create a large multi-movement piece for a 16-piece ensemble + live sound processing.

He received composer commissions for the Third Eye Orchestra from the American Composers Forum, underwritten by the Jerome Fondation, and the New York State Council On The Arts (NYSCA). The CD was produced with funds from the New York State Music Funds, travel support for the orchestra’s performance at 2015’s FIMAV/Victoriaville Festival provided by Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant.

The core ensemble in New York City consists of live sound processing of string quartet, wind/brass quartet, two pianos/keyboards, guitar, bass, percussion, voice, and the occasional guest. The ensemble released a CD of a 2006 Roulette performance as “Antecedent / Consequent” on the Innova label. All About Jazz called the music “nothing short of breathtaking”, and “a masterpiece of musical evocation”.


Innova 225, recorded 2006 at Roulette, New York, released 2008 on Innova, the label of the American Composers Forum. Total Time: 79:34 Minutes. With Mari Kimura (vio), Mark Feldman (vio), Stephanie Griffin (vla), Tomas Ulrich (cel), Briggan Kraus (as, bari), Marty Ehrlich (bcl, fl), Robert Dick (fl, cbfl), Detlef Landeck (tb), Dafna Naphtali (voice, live sound processing), Ursel Schlicht (p/kb), Deman Maroney (p/kb), Stomu Takeishi (b), Satoshi Takeishi (perc), Hans Tammen – concept, realtime arrangement.

There are numerous smaller versions and offshoots, such as the Third Eye Electric Band or the Iron Foundry, Third Eye’s string quartet plus percussion and live sound processing. Open form compositions have also been written for and performed with minimal music or jazz ensembles.

Live at the SugarCube 2014

Live at the SUGARCUBE, South Street Seaport District, curated by 100mRecords. With Shelley Hirsch (voice), Matthew Ostrowski (electronics), Mari Kimura (vio), Sarah Bernstein (vio), Jason Hwang (vla), Tomas Ullrich (cello), Ned Rothenberg (cl, bcl), Michael Lytle (cl, bcl, contra bass clarinet), Briggan Krauss (as, baritone sax), Chris McIntyre (trombone), Shoko Nagai (kb/moog), Josh Sinton (baritone sax, bassclarinet, contrabassclarinet), Satoshi Takeishi (perc), Hans Tammen (composition, conducting, concept). Special thanks to Django Voris and PJ Norman / 100mRecords!

“...wonderful performance in its exploitation of the wide sound pallet available and in its attention to detail.”

Mike Chamberlain, AllAboutJazz

Irwin Block / Avant Music News

VICTORIAVILLE, Que. – With its first gig outside of New York City, Hans Tammen’s Third Eye Orchestra on Saturday took this town’s annual Festival de Musique Actuelle to that higher creative level. After an evening that featured three rock-oriented shows – from surf, to quasi subversive to mini metal – the cream of New York avant scene delivered the musical goods in a thrilling 75-minute display that combined individual virtuosity in a cohesive and fun-filled framework.

Celebrating his 10th year as the group’s conceptual father, composer, and director, Tammen flashed lettered cue cards, leaping, Zorn-style, into sections of the 15-member band and gesticulating enthusiastically to charge up his crew. From sections that resembled classical contemporary, to avant jazz, blues, rock and electronica, this ensemble swung with life-affirming collective energy and solo contributions that served the director’s overall objective – creating a unique, immediate, visceral and engaging musical experience. Most impressive were Shelley Hirsch, injecting an operatic element with avant vocalizing, a mesmerizing string section, Denman Maroney with his Cecil-Tayloresque pianism, Robert Dick’s brilliant flute microtones, and the powerful rhythm team of drummer Satoshi Takeishi and electric bassist Stomu Takeishi, central to driving the ensemble forward.

Original review here.

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NYC Third Eye Orchestra Performers since 2006:

Live Sound Processing & Voice: Dafna Naphtali

Voice: Shelley Hirsch

Violins: Mari Kimura, Jason Hwang, David Soldier, Sarah Bernstein, Mark Feldman, Rebecca Cherry

Viola: Stephanie Griffin, Jason Hwang

Cello: Tomas Ullrich, Ha-Yang Kim, Alex Waterman

Reeds: Briggan Kraus, Ned Rothenberg, Michael Lytle, Josh Sinton, Marty Ehrlich, Ferdinand Rexforth, Eddy Rollin

Flutes: Robert Dick, Marty Ehrlich

Trombone: Detlef Landeck, Chris McIntyre

Trumpet: Herb Robertson

Piano/Keyboard: Ursel Schlicht, Denman Maroney, Shoko Nagai

Guitar: Nick Didkovsky

Accordion: Andrea Parkins

Electronics: Matthew Ostrowski

Theremin/Gongs: David Simons

Bass: Stomu Takeishi, Jonas Tauber

Percussion: Satoshi Takeishi, Andrew Drury

Third Eye Orchestra Offshoots


Third Eye Electric Band

The instrumentation for Third Eye Orchestra’s smaller version, the Third Eye Electric Band, comes in pairs, starting with two drums for an extended rhythm section, may include two horns and two singers, but is otherwise heavy on the electronic side using analogue electronics or sampling. We sometimes revisit Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew period, because that’s where we’re coming from.

Third Eye's Iron Foundry

The Iron Foundry is Third Eye Orchestra’s string quartet and percussion. Here I am doing the live sound processing myself, either reworking the sound of individuals or the full ensemble. The score is written with specific processes in mind. The last concert was actually using a “low string quartet”, with violin, viola, cello and double bass.

Third Eye Workshops

Festival performances with professional musicians or workshops with students. Participants explore phase techniques and open form approaches. Depending on the occasion the workshop leans either towards contemporary classical or jazz forms. Or both.