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Award-winning composer Claude Baker releases new CD

Dec. 13, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana University Jacobs School of Music is pleased to announce the IUMusic label release of "Flights of Passage," a collection of chamber music written by internationally celebrated composer and faculty member Claude Baker over a period of 25 years.

A Class of 1956 Chancellor's Professor of Music, Baker utilized an international team of talented Jacobs School alumni and current students to perform and record his work: pianists Timothy Best and Peter Henderson, percussionist Chris Martin, violinists Véronique Mathieu and Stanislav Pronin, violists Sheldon Person and Daniel Stewart, and cellist Alvin Wong. Also performing on the CD is the IU New Music Ensemble, directed by David Dzubay, chair of the Jacobs Composition Department.

When creating the compilation, Baker drew inspiration from one of America's most beloved poets, Walt Whitman. The disc's title piece, "Flights of Passage" for solo piano, consists of four separate movements, each using as its programmatic basis a poem from Whitman's "Leaves of Grass."

"Three Phantasy Pieces" for viola and percussion, commissioned by the Center for New Music at the University of Iowa, makes reference to three well-known compositions for viola by Brahms, Robert Schumann and Berlioz.

"Elegy" for solo violin was commissioned by Lewis Kaplan, violinist and director of the Aeolian Chamber Players. In the liner notes, Baker writes, "Although written in memory of a very dear friend, 'Elegy' can also be viewed as an homage to Béla Bartók, whose ghost haunts every page of the score."

"Tableaux Funèbres" for piano and string quartet, commissioned by the Chamber Music Society of Louisville in celebration of its fiftieth anniversary, is dedicated to the memory of American composer Nelson Keyes. The work provides extended musical commentary on four haiku texts of rather dark imagery.

The final piece on the recording, "Awaking the Winds" for chamber orchestra, is a composition in which Baker pursued a very different aesthetic direction from that taken in most of his compositions written before and since.

In all of the previous works on the disc, musical borrowing and stylistic allusion play significant roles. "Awaking the Winds," however, uses no conscious quotations whatsover, nor does it contain any extramusical or programmatic associations.

"Flights of Passage" is the latest of more than a dozen CDs that feature a broad spectrum of works by Jacobs School composition faculty and can be bought through the Jacobs School's MarketPlace or downloaded at CDBaby, iTunes and

The CD was produced by Konrad Strauss, chair of the Jacobs School of Music Department of Recording Arts, and was recorded and edited by recording arts students Andrew Hey, Alex Kroh, Jeff Mee, and Grant Ripp.

About Claude Baker

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 Koussevitzky Music Foundation, the Fromm Music Foundation, the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition and Meet the Composer (Commissioning Music/USA); 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.

In addition to the Jacobs School of Music, 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.

In 1991, 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.