ACF Announces Compositions Celebrating the AACM’s 55th Anniversary

American Composers Forum (ACF) is thrilled to announce the premieres of music commissioned through its two-year partnership with the Chicago-based, internationally-renowned Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). Supporting the creation of music by The Honourable Elizabeth A. Baker, Adegoke Steve Colson and Rudresh Mahanthappa, this is the first time the AACM has collaborated with another organization to commission artists. The concert of world premieres will be performed by the AACM’s iconic Great Black Music Ensemble (GBME) and celebrates the 55th anniversary of the AACM. It takes place at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts (915 E. 60th Street), the AACM’s long-time partner, on Saturday, October 30, 2021, at 7 p.m. Tickets are free with required reservations, and are currently available at tickets.uchicago.edu.

The Honourable Elizabeth A. Baker will join the GBME in performing three works that are real-time process driven with electronic support: the possibilities before, Strange Loops, and bioFEEDBACK, conducted by AACM President Coco Elysses. Adegoke Steve Colson will conduct the GBME in the performance of his new work, Incandescence Chapters One – Six, which draws upon his 50-year history as an AACM member, with each chapter reflecting on a decade of the organization. AACM member and Founding Music Director and Conductor of The Chicago Modern Orchestra Project Renee Baker will conduct Rudresh Mahanthappa’s new work, Finding Our Voice, a composition that conveys collective hope and understanding.

AACM's Great Black Music Ensemble--Photo courtesy of the AACM

AACM’s Great Black Music Ensemble–Photo courtesy of the AACM

“At the start of this collaboration in 2019, we had the great honor of working with the AACM’s Great Black Music Ensemble in the Twin Cities to provide an opportunity for The Honourable Elizabeth A. Baker, Adegoke Steve Colson, and Rudresh Mahanthappa to get to know the musicians of the GBME, explore ideas together for their new works, have meals with one another, and to perform together at The Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis. These experiences led to a deeper collaboration,” said Billy Lackey, ACF Vice President of Artist Services. “We look forward to experiencing these three new works at last, after this extended and challenging time in the world.”

“The AACM is extremely excited about this unique development to premiere the concert at the Logan Center, a longstanding partner. This creative experience’s impact on the composers and musicians is a great example of artistic nurturing spearheaded by ACF. The possibilities born from this convergence are deeply tied to the AACM’s mantra, which is ‘A Power Greater Than Itself.’ Our 55th anniversary celebration represents a new chapter, new collaborations, and a renewed impetus amidst a rapidly changing world, surviving and continuing our legacy in creating Great Black Music,” said Coco Elysses, AACM President.

The Honourable Elizabeth A. Baker is a highly sought after artist who was recently awarded a 2021-2022 Harvard Radcliffe Institute Fellowship. Eschewing the collection of traditional titles that describe single elements of her body of work, Baker refers to herself as a “New Renaissance Artist” that embraces a constant stream of change and rebirth in practice, which expands into a variety of media, chiefly an exploration of how sonic and spatial worlds can be manipulated to personify a variety of philosophies and principles, both tangible as well as intangible. Baker has received international recognition from press, scholars, and the public for her conceptual compositions and commitment to inclusive programming.

Elizabeth A. Baker--Photo courtesy of the artist

Elizabeth A. Baker–Photo courtesy of the artist

Adegoke Steve Colson is a Grammy® nominated pianist and composer, who has performed internationally as a leader of jazz ensembles ranging from trios to orchestras. His work has been recorded on labels including Columbia/Sony, Evidence, and Black Saint. His most recent release, solo piano recording Tones For, received international accolades including a pick as the JazzTimes Editor’s Choice. Colson’s compositions have become part of “jazz standard” repertoire and are being performed and recorded by some of today’s jazz greats as well as by his own groups. He has received several commissions and awards for music composition including support by the National Endowment for the Arts and Doris Duke Foundation. He has authored more than 100 pieces for ensemble and five major works for Jazz orchestra. His work as an artist has been discussed and reviewed in many languages and can be found in countless magazines, newspapers, periodicals, and in several books.

Adegoke Steve Colson--Photo by Sharon Sullivan

Adegoke Steve Colson–Photo by Sharon Sullivan

Rudresh Mahanthappa is widely known as one of the premier voices in jazz of the 21st century. An alto saxophonist, he has 16 albums to his credit, with the most recent being Hero Trio. Mahanthappa has been named alto saxophonist of the year for nine of the last eleven years running in Downbeat Magazine’s International Critics’ Polls (2011-2013, 2015-2018, 2020-2021), and alto saxophonist of the year in the 2015-2018 & 2020 JazzTimes Critics’ Polls. He has also received the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, and is currently the Anthony H. P. Lee ’79 Director of Jazz at Princeton University.

Rudresh Mahanthappa--Photo by David Crow

Rudresh Mahanthappa–Photo by David Crow

The partnership was initiated through ACF’s commissioning program, ACF | connect, with the aspiration to work with a rotating ensemble on a national call for scores and year-long development of new work. Launched in 2017, ACF | connect provides sustained support for music creators to build relationships with ensembles based in the United States. Through the development of new art, the program intentionally supports a spectrum of voices and music to advance creative musical expression, which ACF believes is essential to human culture. Other collaborations include the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble (PNME), Roomful of Teeth, and Music of the Unsung America.

COVID-19 Response

The Logan Center at The University of Chicago is committed to the health and safety of our expansive communities — visitors, artists, vendors, students, faculty, and staff. The Logan Center, in accordance with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Chicago Department of Public Health, the Illinois Department of Public Health, and experts at UChicago Medicine, requires that attendees of any event follow specified health & safety protocols, including masking and vaccination requirements, in an effort to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

About Great Black Music Ensemble (GBME)

The Great Black Music Ensemble features some of Chicago’s most visionary artists of improvisation and creative music. Originally founded by Muhal Richard Abrams as the Experimental Band, GBME ranges in size from three to fifty musicians and carries on the legacy of the Black Arts Movement of Chicago’s South Side; GBME invigorates the traditions of Great Black Music (a term coined by the AACM’s renown Art Ensemble of Chicago) with exciting new sounds and rhythms. GBME has been in residence at the Rebuild Foundation and has been performing at the Arts Bank every first Sunday for the last two years. The ensemble has also been in residence at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago and performs regularly at the Chicago Park District Night Out in the Parks. GBME has premiered new works of AACM composers throughout Europe and has been frequently showcased at the Chicago Jazz Festival and Chicago’s Millennium Park.

About the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM)

The AACM is an internationally recognized institution that uplifts creativity through creative music. It is a non-profit organization and a collective of composers and musicians, focused on nurturing, performing and recording high artistic level programs. The AACM’s mission is to uplift humanity and enhance cultural understanding through the celebration of original music, to cultivate young musicians in the practice of creative music, and to push the boundaries of contemporary music through composition and improvisation, while providing an environment that encourages the development of its member-artists. The AACM’s School of Music provides free training programs by providing access to Black and at-risk youth who are not given the opportunity to engage with the arts in their public schools. AACM composers, through their experiences as members, often grow to be heralded for their innovations in contemporary music, to hold positions at prestigious universities, and to direct their own groundbreaking ensembles and organizations. Recently, the AACM was awarded a prestigious Chicago’s Cultural Treasures grant, and has received generous ongoing support from the MacArthur Foundation, the Oakwood Foundation, Chicago CityArts, DECASE, and others.

About American Composers Forum

American Composers Forum (ACF) supports and advocates for individuals and groups creating music today by demonstrating the vitality and relevance of their art. It connects artists with collaborators, organizations, audiences, and resources. Through storytelling, publications, recordings, hosted gatherings, and industry leadership, ACF activates equitable opportunities for artists. It provides direct funding and mentorship to a broad and diverse field of music creators, highlighting those who have been historically excluded from participation. Founded in 1973 by composers Libby Larsen and Stephen Paulus as the Minnesota Composers Forum, the organization continues to invest in its Minnesota home while connecting artists and advocates across the United States, its territories, and beyond. ACF frames its work with a focus on racial equity and includes within that scope, but does not limit to: diverse gender identities, musical approaches and perspectives, religions, ages, (dis)abilities, cultures, backgrounds, sexual orientations, and broad definitions of being “American.”

American Composers Forum’s ACF | connect program is made possible with the outstanding generosity of the following individuals: Jane Anfinson, Thomas Arneson, Suzanne Asher, Carol Barnett, Pearl and Bob Bergad, Margee and Will Bracken, Karen Brooks, Richard Cisek and Kay Fredericks, Dee Ann and Kent Crossley, Julia W. Dayton, C. Lee Essrig, Rosemary & David Good Family Foundation, Katherine Goodale, Jeff and Hyun Mee Graves, Mike and Kay McCarthy, Carol Heen, Steve Heitzeg and Gwen Pappas, Kathleen Henschel and John Dewes, Linda and Jack Hoeschler, Leaetta Hough and Bob Muschewske, Sam Hsu and Sally Cheng, Hella Mears Hueg Estate Gift, Thelma Hunter Estate Gift, John and Ruth Huss, George Frederick Jewett Foundation East, Art and Martha Kaemmer, Jon Lewis and Lisa Merklin, Greg McNeely, Alfred and Ann Moore, Louis and Gloria Nuechterlein, John Nuechterlein and Dan Monson, John and Debbie Orenstein, I.A. O’Shaughnessy Foundation in memory of Thelma Hunter, David and Judy Ranheim, Denice Rippentrop, Vanessa Rose, Bill and Susan Sands, Gale Sharpe, Doug and Kathy Skor, Dan and Ellie Thomas, Stephen and Jayne Usery, Kathleen van Bergen, Janika Vandervelde, Jim Wafler, and Margaret and Angus Wurtele.


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