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Renée Baker: Creative Music Summit
Sunyata: Towards Absolute Emptiness

Sun, May 3, 2015


Renée Baker
Photo: Michael S. Baker

An uncommonly versatile player who seems to thrive in unusual settings
Chicago Tribune

The latest AACM visionary
Downbeat Magazine

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. She has written a lush, energetic score for her own magnetic Chicago Modern Orchestra Project as well as four deeply affecting vocalists: Dee Alexander, Ann Ward, Saalik Ziyad, and Taalib-din Ziyad, members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. As they stand on pedestals in luminescent clothing, the singers serve as a visually potent bridge between Sambhava’s transcendent text and a protean dance Baker is conceiving for a soloist.

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.

Artists Up Close

MCA Talk
Creative Music Summit
Sun, Apr 26, 1–3 pm

Renée Baker, Nicole Mitchell, and others discuss the artistic practice that binds different disciplines and in recent years has converged artists as part of larger social progress movements.

About the Artist

A composer, conductor, ensemble leader, violinist, and violist, Renée Baker composes and performs across cultural boundaries. A member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, she has founded or led 13 contemporary music projects, including the Chicago Modern Orchestra Project, FAQtet, Mantra Blue Free Orchestra, and Red Chai. Her work as a collaborator is equally as diverse: she has performed with Nicole Mitchell’s Black Earth Strings and Black Earth Ensemble, the Chicago Jazz Orchestra, the David Boykin Expanse, and Orbert Davis. The Chicago Sinfonietta premiered her first two symphonic works, Sundown’s Promise, which featured taiko drumming, and her work for orchestra and six jazz soloists. In 2010, her piece Brass Epiphany premiered at MCA Stage as part of ACCM’s 45th anniversary.

For more information on Renée Baker, visit.