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 synthesisers, 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 organisers 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 embarked on a short North American performance and educational outreach tour through southern Canada and the northern United States. In Summer 2019, the duo released their second EP Live at The BOP STOP.
August 22, 2019 – The Palladium at St. Petersburg College (Saint Petersburg, FL)
January 5, 2020 -Timucua Arts – The White House (Orlando, FL)
March 22, 2019 – Mahtay Café & Lounge (St. Catherines, ON)
March 24, 2019 – Southern Cross Lounge – TRANZAC (Toronto, ON)
March 25, 2019 – Monday Night at THE COMET (Cincinnati, OH)
March 26, 2019 – The Bop Stop at The Music Settlement (Cleveland, OH)
March 27, 2019 – Workshop at Fredonia School of Music (Fredonia, NY)
Sashay (2015) is the first of multiple piano works created by composer Nathan Corder for new renaissance artist Elizabeth A. Baker. The work, which appears as the first track on Baker’s debut album on Aeocade Music entitled Quadrivium, has been praised in reviews for both the subtlety of composition by Corder as well as a powerhouse performance displaying technical refinement and sensitivity by Baker.
In January 2019, the duo began extensive workshopping in Oakland, CA at The Paul Drescher Ensemble Studio, for a new solo piano work involving movement to be choreographed by Baker along with electronics designed by Corder, which extensively explore playing the instrument away from the keyboard by transversing pathways with transducer in hand to excite all manner of surfaces on the piano as well as the human body. The premiere of this new work will occur at MISE_EN PLACE Bushwick in April 2019.
Moving forward, Corder & Baker plan to create new works that interact with the piano as a solo instrument in nontraditional as well as traditional mediums that exploit Baker’s endurance and versatility as a performer. In addition to planned performances of the new piano works, Corder & Baker will record these new works for public release in both audio as well as visual format, and Baker will facilitate discussions of the process of working in collaboration with a living composer on the creation as well as presentation of performance works both with and without written scores at educational institutions along her tour routes.
Both Baker & Corder are passionate about inclusion and fostering safe spaces for art to experiment without judgement. In the creation of these new piano works, both artists push each other further in a way that redefines and stretches their own personal expression of the universe through art. As an African American woman, Baker is driven by a desire to obliterate the sonic expectations that are placed upon her as a black musician the moment that she sets foot on a stage — through Corder’s work which transcends gender, race, and class; Baker finds artistic fulfilment and a peaceful energy that radiates to audience members from diverse backgrounds. Through performances in nontraditional spaces as well as planned educational outreach, Baker & Corder fundamentally seek to provide access to disenfranchised members of the local communities particularly, school aged children that lack engagement with experimental music due to systemic socioeconomic barriers to inclusion.
While Baker & Corder started their collaborations through the medium of piano, they have recently come together to focus on improvisational performances with electronics and found objects.
LIST OF WORKS
waking sleeping bodies (2019) with choreography by Elizabeth A. Baker
July 2019 – Westben Performer/Composer Residency (Ontario, CA)
March 26, 2019 – The BOP STOP at The Music Settlement (Cleveland, OH)
April 1, 2019 – Rhodes College (Memphis, TN)
April 12, 2019 – Curator Series at MISE-EN_PLACE Bushwick (Brooklyn, NY)
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 pretence (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.
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 8
Native Instruments – Massive
Workshop Component Parts List
Dayton Audio DAEX30HESF-4 High Efficiency Steered Flux Exciter with Shielding 30mm 40W 4 Ohm
Lepai LP-2020TI Digital Hi-Fi Audio Mini Class D Stereo Amplifier
Eminence 6-1/2″ Guitar Speaker 20W 4 Ohm
Kinter MA-170 2-Channel Mini Amplifier Bass Treble RCA In 2 x 18W
Dayton Audio DAEX32QMB-4 Quad Feet Mega Bass 32mm Exciter 40W 4 Ohm