A Celebration of David Baker’s Life in Music

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David N. Baker, Jr. (1931-2016)

David N. Baker, Jr.
(1931-2016)

We mourn the passing of David Nathaniel Baker, Jr who died at his home in Bloomington, Indiana on Saturday, March 26, 2016 at the age of 84. David was an extraordinarily accomplished composer, author, conductor, and teacher; and among the most influential voices in contemporary American music over the past five decades. The Keiser-Southern Music family offers our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues. We submit this humble memorial as a tribute to and celebration of his life and music.

Born on December 21, 1931 in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Baker grew up in the rich musical tradition of the black community, in the world of church and gospel music, blues and rhythm & blues, and jazz. He trained as a classical musician and composer at Indiana University, where he later became Distinguished Professor of Music and Chairman of the Jazz Department. Baker also had served as conductor and artistic director of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. A virtuoso performer on multiple instruments and top in his field in several disciplines, Mr. Baker taught and performed throughout the USA, Canada, Europe, Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

Though thoroughly educated in classical music, Baker’s early career began in an era when the professional options for a black man in that field were extremely limited. As for composing, he once said, “there was no reason for me to aspire to write classical music. At that time the handful of black composers who were actually writing classical music were constantly struggling to have their works performed. There were virtually no role models for me to follow, and very limited opportunities to hear the music these composers were creating.” However in 1969, Baker was approached by his friend and colleague, the legendary violinist and pedagogue Josef Gingold, with a request to write a concerto for violin and jazz band. Baker accepted, and following the masterful premiere with the IU Jazz Ensemble, myriad commissions from colleagues and other world-class artists and ensembles would follow thereafter.

David Baker’s style is often described as “thirdstream,” a term commonly used since the late 1950s to describe the synthesis of elements of classical music not only with jazz but also with other folk and popular traditions. At his 2006 acceptance address of Indiana University’s Tracy M. Sonneborn Award, Baker stated, ” It was the philosophical rubric of thirdstream–not only in the narrower view of combining classical music and jazz, but also in the broader interpretation which combined classical music with various ethnic or vernacular musics–that provided me with the means to seek out my own identity as a composer.”

Over the course of his multifaceted career, David received numerous awards, including the National Association of Jazz Educators Hall of Fame Award, the Indiana Historical Society’s Living Legend Award, the James Smithson Medal from the Smithsonian Institution, the American Jazz Masters Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, and an Emmy Award for his musical score documentary For Gold and Glory. In 2007 he was honored by The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts with their Living Jazz Legend Award. As a composer Mr. Baker was commissioned by more than 500 individuals and ensembles, including many world-class performers. He served a number of times on the Pulitzer Prize Music Jury and was Chair of the Jazz Faculty of the Steans Institute for Young Artists at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, IL. His compositions total more than 2,000 in number, including jazz and symphonic works, chamber music, and ballet and film scores.

CATALOG OF WORKS – VIDEO EXCERPTS

Alto Saxophone Concerto: “Lee Konitz” (1989) 21′
Asax Solo: 3.3.3.3: 4.3.3.1: Timp.Perc(2): Str

David Baker’s concerto for alto saxophone and large orchestra is named after legendary jazz saxophonist Lee Konitz, who commissioned the work. Recorded by Czech National Symphony, Paul Freeman, conductor; Thomas Walsh, alto saxophone (Albany Records).

Listen/ watch:
Movement I
Movement II
Movement III

 

Clarinet Sonata (1990) 14′
This transcription of Baker’s Flute Sonata (1989) was performed at UBC Distinguished Artist Series, Canada. Recorded by Jaren Hinckley, clarinet and Vince Humphries, piano.

Listen/ watch:
Blues
Lonliness
Dance

 

Life Cycles for Tenor, Horn and Strings (1988) 20′
Recorded by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, Paul Freeman, conductor; William Brown, tenor; Zdenek Tylsar, horn. Can be performed as a standalone cycle of 5 songs, or as a companion piece to Benjamin Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings. Composed for William Brown; texts by Terence Diggory. A reduction for tenor, horn and piano is also available.

Listen/ watch:
Night Song
Surface
Autumn Moral
What It Means When Spring Comes
Saints and Hermits

 

Roots II (1992) 25′
Violin, Cello, Piano
Each of the five movements is a stylized portrait of a musical form from the African-American tradition. Roots II was commissioned and recorded by the Beaux Arts Trio, Philips CD 438-866-2.

Listen/ watch:
Incantation
Dance in Congo Square
Sorrow Song
Boogie Woogie
Jubilee

 

Singers of Songs, Weavers of Dreams for Cello and Percussion (1981) 25′
Commissioned by Janos Starker; recorded and edited by Janos Starker, cello and George Gaber, percussion (Laurel Record LR 117). Each movement of this suite pays tribute to a different jazz icon, including Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Jimmy Yancey, Paul Robeson, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, and Dizzy Gillespie.

Listen/ watch

 

Through this Vale of Tears: In Memoriam: Martin Luther King, Jr.(1986) 22′
Tenor or Soprano Solo: 2 Violin, Viola, Cello, Piano

Commissioned and recorded twice by tenor William Brown, Through This Vale of Tears is a kind of social commentary on the death of Dr. King. As described by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “Mr. Baker’s piece set a variety of texts in a cornucopia of styles, including scat, spiritual, and chorale. Miraculously, this diversity cohered, producing a multi-dimensional work filled with grief, humor and hope.”

Listen/ watch:
Thou Dost Lay Me in The Dust of Death
If There Be Sorrow
My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?
Parades to Hell
Deliver My Soul
Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child

Explore David Baker’s catalog of Keiser Classical publications on Hal Leonard’s website.

For additional information on David Baker or his works, write to Keiser Classical.

Press links:
ABC/ Associated Press
New York Times.
Indianapolis Star

Reza Vali Premieres, New CD Release, and Spring 2016 Update

Reza Vali Segah bow

Composer Reza Vali takes a bow at the premiere of his work Segah

Reza Vali has been busy with two world premieres as part of the 2016 Segâh Festival of Persian and Turkish Music in Pittsburgh.  The first, Segâh, Double Concerto for Persian Ney, Kamanche, and Orchestra, was premiered on January 15 at the Carnegie Hall by Khosrow Soltani on the Ney, Kian Soltani playing Kamanche, and the Segiah Festival Ensemble conducted by Daniel Curtis.  The second, Sornâ (Folk Songs, Set No. 17), received its world premiere performance on January 16 at the Alumni Concert Hall.  It was premiered by Ismail Lumanovski on solo clarinet and the Hoppa Project ensemble under the baton of Erberk Eryilmaz.  For more information on either of these works, please contact Keiser Classical.

Ashoob (Calligraphy No. 14) for Santoor (Persian hammer dulcimer) and string quartet will receive its world premiere on March 18 – 20, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio.  It will be performed by Dariush Saghafi on Persian Santoor and the Carpe Diem String Quartet.  For more information on this work, please contact Keiser Classical.

A new CD of Reza Vali’s chamber works, called The Book of Calligraphy, was released by Albany Records on December 1, 2015.

Reza Vali: Six World Premieres and a New CD

Reza Vali

Composer Reza Vali

Two Reza Vali’s compositions will receive their world premiers in Pittsburgh during the Segâh Festival of Persian and Turkish Music in January 2016.  These include “Segâh, Double Concerto for Persian Ney, Kamanche, and Orchestra”, which will be premiered on January 15, 2016 by Khosrow Soltani playing Ney, Kian Soltani playing Kamanche, and the Segâh Festival Ensemble conducted by Daniel Curtis.  And “Sornâ (Folk Songs, Set No. 17), for Persian Wind Instruments and Ensemble” will be premiered on January 16, 2016 by Khosrow Soltani playing Persian wind instruments, and the Hoppa Project Ensemble conducted by Erberk Eryilmaz. For more information on these works contact Keiser Classical.

“The Ancient Call (Calligraphy No. 13)” for microtonal trumpet and orchestra was performed by Neal Berntsen and the Brevard Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Keith Lockhart, on July 8th, 2015 at the Brevard Festival.  The work requires the use of a specially designed trumpet that can perform 24 notes per octave.  Please contact our rental department for inquiries.

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra premiered “Funebre” on July 1st, 2015.  Please contact our rental department for inquiries.

“Ashoob (Calligraphy No. 14) for Santoor and String Quartet” will premiere in Columbus, Ohio in 2016.  Dariush Saghafi will play the Santoor (Persian hammer dulcimer), accompanied by the Carpe Diem String Quartet.

The Carpe Diem String Quartet commissioned and will premiere a new work by Reza Vali, “Raak (Calligraphy No. 15)”, during their 2016-2017 concert season. A new CD of Reza Vali’s chamber works titled “The Book of Calligraphy” will soon be released by Albany Records.

 

 

 

 

Stephen Hartke Recordings to Include Debut of “Netsuke,” Fall 2015 Updates

Netsuke album

Hartke’s “Netsuke” for Violin and Piano on “American Duos” (Albany Records)

The world premiere recording of Stehen Hartke’s “Netsuke” was released on Oct 1st, 2015 by Albany Records on the CD titled “American Duos” (#1593), with Jennifer Frautschi on violin and John Blacklow playing piano.  Music available through Hal Leonard.

“The King of the Sun” receives its third commercial recording, performed by Flex Ensemble and released by Genuine Records on the album “The Arrival of Night” (#14325) on July 11th, 2014.  Music available through Hal Leonard.

Stephen Hartke’s “Fourth Symphony” was broadcast on Aug 30th, 2015 on APM’s “Pipe Dreams”, a show celebrating the pipe organ and hosted by award-winning broadcaster Michael Barone.  Please contact our rental department for inquiries.

A new anthem for double mixed choir, “Blessed are they that sow and shall not reap”, was premiered by The Golden Bridge Consort and music director Suzi Digby in Beverly Hills California on Sept. 19th, 2015.  Visit Hal Leonard to browse Stephen Hartke’s current publications.