Monday, July 25, 2011

'Divertimento Notte blu (for String Orchestra and friends)' of Renée Baker Performed by Chicago Sinfonietta May 22 & 23

[Renée Baker Conducting]

Today AfriClassical received a press release concerning the role of Renée Baker, composer and conductor of Divertimento Notte blu (for String Orchestra and friends), in the Women in Classical Music concert of the Chicago Sinfonietta on May 22 & 23, 2011. An article published in on April 20, 2011 and a review of the concert in the blog were also received. We present excerpts from all three:

Divertimento Notte blu (for String Orchestra and friends) will be conducted by Mei-Ann Chen as part of Sinfonietta’s Women in Classical Music concert May 22 & 23, 2011

CHICAGO – Divertimento Notte blu (for String Orchestra and friends), composed by Renée Baker, will receive its World Premiere in two Chicago Sinfonietta concerts, Sunday, May 22 at 2:30 pm at Lund Auditorium of Dominican University, 7900 W. Division Street in River Forest, and Monday, May 23 at 7:30 pm at Orchestra Hall of Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago. It will be included in the orchestra’s Women in Classical Music concert along with other notable works by women composers, including blue cathedral by Jennifer Higdon, An American Concerto by Gwyneth Walker, and the Pulitzer Prize winning Symphony No. 1 by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich.

The “friends” of the title are six of the most respected names in the world of jazz and improvised music: saxophonists Mwata Bowden and David Boykin, flutist Nicole Mitchell, vibist Bruce Nelson, cellist Teddy Rankin-Parker, and bassist Karl EH Siegfried.

Ms. Baker will conduct the orchestra and ‘friends’ in these premiere performances.Ms. Baker, in describing the concept behind Divertimento Notte blu, says “I envisioned the depths of the human condition and the melancholy that the examination nurtured led me to explore the face of human nature… In framing the human condition through sound, I have tried to touch both our conscious and unconscious states.” She continues, “Divertimento Notte blu beckons the listener to focus on the party of our lives awakened and to imagine the full randomness of our dream episodes.” It consists of eleven movements, but Baker advises listeners “Don’t try to follow the movements. That would equal the experience of trying to document your dreams every minute in the notebook on your nightstand.”

Renée Baker is founder/leader of thirteen contemporary music performance entities, including Chicago Modern Orchestra Project, FAQ tet, Mantra Blue Free Orchestra, Connoisseur Musica String Ensemble, the Renée Baker Trio, and several more. She has created eclectic chamber festivals for Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium, Joffrey Ballet Chamber Series, Norris Cultural Arts Center and Classical Symphony Hall. She programs and conducts the Chicago Sinfonietta Chamber Ensemble.

As a composer, Ms. Baker has penned compositions for her own groups, as well as the Chicago Sinfonietta Chamber Ensemble and Great Black Music Ensemble/AACM. In 2009, Ms. Baker’s compositions premiered in Umbria, Italy and also have been performed at Suoni Per Il Popolo in Montreal. Baker has presented her compositions in over twenty concerts for the Chicago State University Student Afternoon Recital Series. She has premiered over ten works on the Chicago Sinfonietta Chamber Series. Ms Baker was accepted into the Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute at Columbia University in July 2010. Renée Baker currently has over 900 compositions to her credit. She is currently working on commissions from the Gaudete Brass Quintet, the Harnegra Chamber Orchestra and a chamber opera commissioned by Chicago Modern Orchestra Project entitled Clarity of Job. In October 2010, her orchestral composition Sundown’s Promise for Taiko and Orchestra received its World Premiere with the Chicago Sinfonietta.

As a violinist/violist, she is the principal violist in the Chicago Sinfonietta, of which she is a founding member. Ms. Baker is one of the most sought after instrumentalists for chamber music as well as recitals. She has performed in major music festivals all over the world, including the Aspen Music Festival and the Classical Music Festival (Eisenstadt). As a soloist, she has performed with John Sharp (Chicago Symphony) making her Ravinia debut in Don Quixote as well as with YoYo Ma and many other luminaries.
April 20, 2011
“Chicago Sinfonietta Bids Farewell to Founder Paul Freeman”
“Pulitzer Prize-winner Ellen Taaffe Zwilich's organic and accessible Symphony No. 1 is next on the jam-packed program, followed by an original composition by Sinfonietta principal violist Reneé Baker, titled Divertimento Notte blu (for String Orchestra and Friends), featuring the Sinfonietta and an ensemble comprised of some of Chicago's most exciting jazz musicians, including Nicole Mitchell on flute, David Boykin on tenor saxophone, Bruce Nelson on vibraphone, Mwata Bowden on baritone saxophone and Karl E.H. Siegfried on bass.”

“Chicago Sinfonietta – a fond farewell to Maestro Paul Freeman”
Kathryn J Allwine Bacasmot
ChicagoClassicalMusic.orgMay 27, 2011
“Following the intermission, and a video presentation documenting the career of Maestro Freeman, came the premiere of the commissioned work Divertmento Notte blu by Renée Baker (who also took to the podium to conduct her piece). Comprised of eleven brief movements 'for String Orchestra and friends,' to be performed without pause, one was instructed via the Ms. Baker’s program notes: 'Don’t try to follow the movements. That would equal the experience of trying to document your dreams every minute in the notebook on your nightstand.' I took her advice, and very much enjoyed the ride through her dreamscape 'ranging from inconsolable desolation to shuckin’ and jivin’ joy' – which included a terrific didgeridoo solo.”

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