Merging Politics and Concert Music

Drew Baker Columbia College Lecture

Tomorrow afternoon I will present a talk at Columbia College Chicago on the role of politics in three of my works: National Anthem, Stress Position, and Age of the Deceased (Six Months in Chicago). I will discuss the specific events and conditions that inspired each piece and how the related political considerations influenced the compositional process as well as the listening experience. Admission is free and I hope to see you there!

Political Sounds: Connecting the Concert Hall to the Outside World
Friday, May 1, 2015, 2pm
Columbia College Chicago
Room 205
1014 S. Michigan Ave.

Can't make it to the talk? Learn more about the making of Stress Position at the blog post below:

Politics, the Piano, and the Making of Stress Position

 

MFCP Presents Short Works Inspired by Morton Feldman

 Detail from the  Rothko Chapel  score

Detail from the Rothko Chapel score

Morton Feldman Chamber Players
Sunday, April 19, 2015
8:30PM
Constellation, Chicago
Tickets: $12 (18 and over)
Facebook Event Page | Tickets

I am very pleased to be included on the program for this Sunday's concert by the Morton Feldman Chamber Players at Constellation in Chicago. Entitled "Hors d'Oeuvres," the program features short works (incl. 3 world premieres) by Thomas Carr, Anthony Donofrio, Marti Epstein, Jacob Gotlib, David Grant, Morgan Krauss, Ryan Packard, John Rea, and yours truly. All of the selected composers have been influenced to some degree by Morton Feldman.

My own long-standing interest in Feldman's music began with one of the other featured composers on Sunday, Marti Epstein. Marti, who was my first composition teacher, once recommended I listen to Rothko Chapel. I was immediately captivated by the way in which the incredibly simple gestures that open Rothko Chapel (rolls on the timpani and temple blocks, chords in the vibraphone and celeste, long tones in the viola), combine to generate a surprisingly sensual, expressive atmosphere.

This reductive approach to gesture, in addition to Feldman's fascination with resonance (Cornelius Cardew states that the sounds in Feldman "do not die away, but recede from our ears"), are clearly present in National Anthem, my contribution to Sunday's program. Scored for solo piano, National Anthem proceeds at a slow tempo, allowing the listener to hear each sonority fade and elide with the next. The piece also features an underlying political element, something that stands in stark contrast to Feldman. I won't go into the details in this post, but you can learn more about the political inspiration for National Anthem and listen to a recording here.

Sunday's program also includes works by two of my close colleagues here in Chicago, David Grant and Morgan Krauss. Their music, like that of Feldman, immediately transports you into unique and often unexpected environments and it is this quality that makes hearing their work so special.

I hope to see you at Constellation on Sunday for what will undoubtedly be a truly unique experience. And speaking of unique, courtesy of the one and only Andrew Tham, I leave you with the official concert video: