renée baker, live!

renée baker, live! this is a massive event! sunday, may 3, 7.30pm, mca, chicago. do it!

The spare, emotive Sunyata harks back to early Buddhist writings to push at the limits of today’s creative music. Forward-thinking violinist/composer Renée Baker finds inspiration in the earliest Buddhist writings to reach Tibet, Padma Sambhava’s Book of the Dead (The Bardo). Sambhava playfully hid his writings in unusual and remote locations, believing that people would recover them at a time when his spiritual messages would have the most beneficial impact. Baker engages his writings with the same belief.

For her first MCA commission, Baker entwines music, voice, and dance. The work, written while in residence in Vietnam, is a lush, energetic score for her own magnetic Chicago Modern Orchestra Project as well as seven deeply affecting vocalists: Dee Alexander, Ann Ward, Saalik Ziyad, and Taalib-din Ziyad, members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians; as well as Yoseph Henry, Rae Myra Hilliard, and gospel superstar Dwayne Lee. As they stand, clothed in luminescent fabric, the singers serve as a visually potent bridge between Sambhava’s transcendent text and Baker’s musical score. Joining the production are world-class musicians from the Bridge, a transatlantic network for Creative Music, including Jean-Luc Cappozzo (trumpet, flugelhorn), Douglas R. Ewart (woodwinds), Joëlle Léandre (double bass), Bernard Santacruz (double bass), and Michael Zerang (drums, percussion).

Sunyata: Towards Absolute Emptiness is presented as part of MCA’s Creative Music Summit in recognition of creative musicians/composers, and in conjunction with the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), This year Creative Music Summit features Baker and Nicole Mitchell in two distinctive concerts which journey through the multiple dimensions of inner and outer spaces.

event info here.

interview with renée baker!


CMOP is my creative vehicle for putting real-life sound to my compositions and that’s why I created it, as an afterbirth of Mantra Blue Free Orchestra which Fred Anderson helped me workshop at the Velvet Lounge for a couple of years. CMOP emerged when I received tacit approval from my AACM cohorts that I and this ensemble were ready to fly. We didn’t need their permission, per se, but they sanctioned and blessed the endeavor. CMOP is the most fully integrated new music ensemble in the country. Modeling inclusion not just racially, but breaking barriers regarding the marriage of classical and other creative forms. Too long have the genres been frightened by each other via unhealthy marketing ploys which keep audiences unaware of the beautiful hybrid possibilities in listening material.

read the whole thing here!