The new in new classical music isn’t limited to the sound of a piece or its instrumentation, but sometimes how it’s presented.
For Jani Parsons, Baylor University lecturer in piano and artistic director of Latitude 49, that presentation, shaped by song selection and placement, plays a crucial part in what an audience takes away from a concert. “Generally, people want an experience,” she said. “Something where time slips away and you’re immersed in the music itself . . . Our goal is where we create an experience that by the end of the evening, audience members have had a moment to be with themselves.”
The free concert “Love Wounds” staged Thursday night at Baylor University’s Jones Theatre in the Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center aims to do that with new music, new groups and thematic threads open for listeners to connect.
The music comes from song settings, a sonata and a one-act opera from Brooklyn-based composer Christopher Cerrone. “He’s a really wonderful composer based in New York and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize,” Parsons explained. “His music is really beautiful and approachable.”
The new groups, supplemented by Baylor vocal students past and present, are the Chicago Fringe Opera and the sextet Latitude 49. Parsons helped form the latter six years ago from like-minded student musicians at the University of Michigan, including one whom later married Parsons, Chris Sies.
Both groups seek to explore new musical territory, innovative vocal works for the opera company, and instrumental and programmatic collaborations for the contemporary chamber ensemble. Parsons plays piano for the group with Sies on percussion, joined by violinist Timothy Stevens, cellist Max Geissler, saxophonist Andy Hall and clarinetist Andy Hudson. Cerrone is the ensemble’s composer-in-residence for its 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons.
The evening’s thematic threads are love, beauty and loss, woven from Cerrone’s setting of love poems by Tao Lin, “I Will Learn To Love A Person;” “The Naomi Songs,” Cerrone’s settings of a text by Bill Knott; his Sonata for Violin and Piano; and his one-act opera “All Wounds Bleed.”
The concert’s finale features a Chicago Fringe Opera singer, Baylor student Megan Gackle and Baylor grad Justin Kroll and debuts an arrangement for a larger collaboration between Chicago Fringe Opera and Latitude 49 in May, Parsons said.
Thursday’s concert is underwritten in part by a grant from Baylor’s Vice Provost for Research.