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Linda Cajigas
Jacobs School of Music

Alain Barker
Jacobs School of Music

Last modified: Tuesday, December 7, 2010

IU Jacobs School, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra to present free concert in Bloomington

A new piano concerto by Jacobs composer Claude Baker marks the beginning of the school's centennial celebrations

Dec. 7, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Bloomington and regional audiences will be treated to a free performance by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra (ISO) on Sunday, Jan. 9, at 3 p.m. in the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music's Musical Arts Center.

The concert will be led by international conductor Gilbert Varga and will feature the world premiere of From Noon to Starry Night by Chancellor's Professor of Composition Claude Baker. Baker's composition celebrates the 100th anniversary of the founding of the IU Department of Music.

"We're delighted to begin a decade of commissions and new productions with the premiere of From Noon to Starry Night," said Gwyn Richards, dean of the Jacobs School. "Our journey begins this January with the recognition of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the IU Department of Music and will end in 2021 with the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the IU School of Music. A number of commissions and major projects planned for the decade ahead include the upcoming IU Opera premiere of Vincent by composer Bernard Rands and major works by Jacobs School of Music composers."

The program will also include the Don Giovanni Overture by W. A. Mozart and Symphony in D Minor by César Franck, and will also be presented by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Jan. 7 and 8 in Indianapolis. No tickets will be required for the Jan. 9 general admission event in Bloomington.

From Noon to Starry Night was commissioned jointly by the Jacobs School of Music, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition.

Canadian pianist Marc-André Hamelin, a well-known champion of new music, will be the soloist for the five-movement work that serves as a musical commentary on the Walt Whitman poems "Beat! Beat! Drums! -- Blow! Bugles! Blow!;" "Give Me the Splendid Silent Sun;" "Warble for Lilac-Time;" "The Dalliance of the Eagles" and "The Mystic Trumpeter."

Writes Baker in the program notes: "Rather than merely reflect the general moods and often sensual qualities of Whitman's poems, I sought in the concerto to parallel musically their overall formal structures, organizing the compositional materials in each movement in ways that would complement Whitman's cyclical presentation of ideas. Too, I attempted to amplify the implied meanings present in each poem and even to create additional associations."

Baker explained that at the core of the final -- and longest -- poem, the central theme is music and the role it plays in shaping everything in our lives. "It's the perfect tie-in with what Jacobs does," he said. "The 100th-anniversary celebration is not just of the Department and then School of Music but of music itself."

"The Jacobs School of Music and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra have developed increasingly closer ties over the years," Baker said. "The premiere by the ISO gives higher visibility to the piece and thus the celebration."

In addition to featuring a host of alumni from the Jacobs School of Music, principal guest concertmaster Alexander Kerr holds the school's Linda and Jack Gill Chair in the Department of Strings.

Conductor Krzysztof Urbanski, recently appointed as music director of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, will begin his activities as an adjunct professor of music in orchestral conducting at Jacobs in the fall of 2011.

About Claude Baker

Claude Baker (b. 1948) attained his doctoral degree from the Eastman School of Music, where his principal composition teachers were Samuel Adler and Warren Benson. As a composer, Baker has received a number of professional honors, including an Academy Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, two Kennedy Center Friedheim Awards, a "Manuel de Falla" Prize (Madrid), the Eastman-Leonard and George Eastman Prizes, BMI-SCA and ASCAP awards, commissions from the Barlow, Fromm and Koussevitzky Music Foundations, a Paul Fromm Residency at the American Academy in Rome and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Bogliasco Foundation and the state arts councils of Indiana, Kentucky and New York.

Among the many orchestras that have performed his music are those of St. Louis, San Francisco, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and Louisville as well as the New York Philharmonic, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Orquesta Sinfonica de RTV Española, the Orquesta Nacional de España and the Musikkollegium Winterthur. Other ensembles include the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, the Esprit Orchestra, the Aeolian Chamber Players, the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble and the Pacifica String Quartet (with pianist Ursula Oppens). His works are published by Lauren Keiser Music and Carl Fischer and are recorded on the ACA, Gasparo, TNC and Louisville First Edition labels.

Baker has served on the faculties of the University of Georgia and the University of Louisville and has been a visiting professor at the Eastman School of Music. He is currently Class of 1956 Chancellor's Professor of Composition in the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University Bloomington. At the beginning of the 1991-92 concert season, he was appointed composer-in-residence of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, a position he held for eight years. In recognition of his contributions to the St. Louis community during that period, Baker was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 1999.

For more about the Jacobs School of Music, see

For information about the Indianapolis Symphony, see