Crossing geographic borders and sonic boundaries, the Baker-Hess Duo is an international twosome comprised of Elizabeth A. Baker (United States) and Robert Hess (Canada) that seeks to expand auditory perception through an organic pairing of traditional acoustic instruments and live electronic processing. The duo employs extended techniques and unusual preparations on their primary instruments which include saxophone (Hess) and piano/toy piano (Baker); these meld with a sea of analogue synthesizers, boutique hardware synths, effects pedals, Source Audio Hot Hands USB units, as well as manipulation of sound via Max.
Baker and Hess met at the 2018 edition of the Waterloo Regional Contemporary Music Sessions in Waterloo, Ontario; where they were paired by organizers to form an improvisational ensemble. Rehearsals at WRCMS involved establishing structured improvisational forms, soon developing into the ideas, musical repartee, and shared experiences that ultimately evolved into an independent EP Illusion & Delusion, which was released in September 2018 via Bandcamp. In Spring 2019 the Baker-Hess Duo will embark on a short North American performance and educational outreach tour through southern Canada and the northern United States.
THE SOLO PIANO WORKS OF NATHAN CORDER
Another huge passion of Elizabeth’s is promoting the work of composer-performer Nathan Corder (his work is the only one on Quadrivium, which she did not write), and to that end Elizabeth is actively working with Nathan to establish a substantial body of solo piano works with which are portable for world tours. One of these new piano pieces will be premiered in NY in 2019 as part of MISE-EN_PLACE Bushwick Curator Series. Elizabeth has a deeply profound love of all the works that Nathan has composed for her thus far, and looks forward to doing more in the realm of exploring his sonic perceptions of the piano, and advocating for his music.
SONIC THEATRE OF THE OPPRESSED
Inspired by the iconic book Theatre of the Oppressed by Augusto Boal, this project seeks to create a body of improvisatory works prompted from the various games and exercises outlined in the book.
I encourage artists of all mediums to use my work as a jumping off point to create their own improvisational works inspired by the various topics in the book and my sonic explorations of the physical exercises.
STARS OF DIFFERENT HUES
A survey of the night sky from our vantage point on Earth is composed of white blips, but stars exist in many hues, and the music universe is a parallel. K-12 students are hardly exposed to the high-level experimental music and performance art; they are rarely afforded access to gear or practitioners of such art. Stars of Different Hues project puts these opportunities into the hands of students, while designed for students in my home state of Florida, has expanded to include university students across the United States.
The primary goals for this project are to broaden the exposure of K-12 students to avant-garde music and by so doing increase their perspectives of the world around them. By presenting these unique performance art pieces for the students in context (how did I achieve that sound) and without initial pretense (allowing the students to first experience the piece, depending on their age writing or drawing their first impressions of the work as they listen or watch, and then giving them the space to share their initial impressions if they wish with their peers) before I explain to them what the piece means to me and how major elements in the composition feel conceptually tied to my expression of the theme of the work. On the university level, the fundamental focus is on artistic entrepreneurship, and how to promote your individual artistic vision without compromising your voice by creating a self-sustaining independent career. College music majors may submit works for my performance consideration that may be used in concerts throughout the state and perhaps accompany my standard repertoire in international performances.
Solo Performance & Workshops
The amazing thing about experimental music is that a single artist can fill up an acoustic space, comparable to a chamber orchestra. I will perform works from my solo repertoire, including works that use interactive technology to turn the body into a living synthesizer through dance. Following the performance, I will field questions from the students but also, give them the a chance to play some of my instruments including: theremin, toy piano, synthesizers, and PureData-based coded instruments.
Workshop Instrument List
Source Audio LLC – Hot Hand USB
Schoenhut Piano Company – Toy Pianos
Critter & Guitari – Organelle
Critter & Guitari // Third Man Records – Septavox
Make Noise – 0-Coast Synthesizer
MOOG – Mother 32 Semi-Modular Synthesizer
MOOG – Etherwave Plus Theremin
Aquasonic – Waterphone
KORG – Volca Kick
Nintendo – Wiimotes
Workshop Software List
Cycling 74 – Max 7
Native Instruments – Massive
Collaborative Performances & Workshops
In addition to demonstrating how a solo artist can create vast sonic landscapes and captivating performances on their own, it is important for students to understand that collaboration is a huge part of being a successful working artist. To that end, I have invited colleagues to participate in performing with me or depending on their location in the world they will speak to the children via Skype. At least one of my performances/workshops with the students will include a live-coding music performance where I will collaborate remotely with another artist such as my colleagues Nathan Corder and Benjamin Whiting using platforms such as SuperCollider or PureData, which will expose students to algorithmic music composition. An emphasis on cross-disciplinary collaboration and inspiration will be emphasized by workshops that integrate the work of Florida-based visual artists such as Cassia Kite, as well as special exhibitions and permanent collections at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, FL.
Creation of a new “Experimental Concerto”
A crucial artistic part of the residency will be composing and then performing a new concerto (16-25 minutes) for experimental instruments with the traditional orchestra that the students have at school. The work created will be tailored for the present strengths of the school ensembles at the start of the project, based on an initial meeting with the orchestra director. There is a possibility for it to morph into a double concerto, featuring a guest collaborator using extended techniques on a traditional instrument, meanwhile my setup will include but not be limited to: toy piano, Indian harmonium, interactive electronics, found objects and amplified water. In all situations, I will be the primary soloist working with the students. Through learning this new piece students will encounter modern music notation techniques such as text and graphic notation, which will broaden their horizons and prepare high school seniors for prestigious music schools throughout the world that are employing these new techniques.
Specialized One-Week Residency Workshops
As part of a focused rehearsal time with the performing arts high schools involved, I will spend one week in Florida during the school year, preparing a new experimental work with the students. In addition to rehearsals, I will work with the orchestral director to present workshops to all of their students on topics that they are particularly interested in exploring with their students. Examples of topics include: toy piano history and composition, analog synthesis, live-coded electronic music, contemporary music history, entrepreneurial skills for performers and composer, etc.
Performances of “Experimental Concerto”
There will be no less than two performances of the new concerto. It will be professionally recorded and available for the students to use for auditions, etc. at no cost. Due to the fact that school year events vary from year to year, additional public performances outside of school will be scheduled within the grant period. The opportunity to present artistic work outside of school is invaluable to a young artist and unique experiences such as this one set them apart from the pack in college admission applications to prestigious institutions. Recordings of the experimental concerto will be presented to other schools throughout Florida.