CCO & Tomeka Reid: Jazz, Electronics & Brand New Music

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CCO & Tomeka Reid: Jazz, Electronics & Brand New Music

January 14, 2018 @ 7:30 pm


Doors and Constellation bar open @8:00pm, concert @8:30pm

Jazz and concert music composer Tomeka Reid joins CCO as composer and cello soloist. Plus commissions pairing orchestra and electronics by Chicago composers Lawrence Axelrod and Beth Bradfish; and George Walker’s gripping Address for Orchestra.


Tomeka ReidNew Work, world premiere

featuring Tomeka Reid, cello

Chicago based cellist, composer and educator, Tomeka Reid has been described as “a remarkably versatile player,” (Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune). Equally adept in classical and jazz contexts, Ms. Reid predominantly finds herself in experimental and improvisatory settings and composes for a wide range of instrumentation, from big band to chamber ensemble. Ms. Reid’s music combines her love for groove along with freer concepts.

Essay No. 1 is a short piece in 3 connected sections based on a recorded solo improvisation I made during early fall of 2017. The work reflects some of my recent experiences working with Anthony Braxton and Roscoe Mitchell. Initially, when approached with the idea of writing for the CCO I had the idea of writing 3 separate movements that paid tribute to two improvisers that have been inspirations to me musically over the years, Eric Dolphy and Stuff Smith. The first two movements would borrow elements from their individual solos and be developed for the larger ensemble. The third movement would be a reflection my own solo approach to improvisation. But as I sat down to write, I was having some difficulty, mostly in choosing the material because they have so much! So, I turned on a recorder and began playing and
improvising ideas on the cello. I did this over the course of a week and found that I kept coming back to certain themes which resulted in this piece. Although, I had access to using the whole orchestra, I found myself being drawn to sounds mostly on the low end of the spectrum. As I love rhythm and strings, they were definitely included.

The piece begins with percussion followed by a somber first theme from the solo cello and is joined by the flute. This theme is explored for a bit before moving into a section with more movement. Following this section, there is an opportunity for the orchestra to improvise before heading into the last section that is basically a blues. This is my first attempt to write a solo piece accompanied by a large ensemble hence the title Essay No. 1.


Larry Axelrod – Brown Line, a scherzo sort of, world premiere

When the Chicago Composers’ Consortium paired with the Chicago Composers Orchestra to present a concert of works in 2016, the one criterion was that all the pieces have something specific to do with the city. Because I am often inspired by images in the natural world, I decided to push myself in the exact opposite direction. Listing quintessential Chicago things and places,  the el was immediately at the top of the list.

The el is an amazing way to move people around the city and is a vital urban resource. It is also a source of frustration, crowding and difficulty, leading to innumerable nightmare scenarios. I decided to run with the nightmare aspect, turning a ride on the el into a kind of horror movie scenario. I chose the Brown Line because I lived a short walk from the last stop at the time. I recorded sounds from the el – stop names, door chimes, emergency announcements, creaking doors, laughter – and created a rhythmically charged electronic backdrop on top of which the orchestra has to fit exactly.

Pushing the concept of musical nightmare one step farther, I used my favorite fun musical horror scenario – the Witches Sabbath from the Symphonie Fantastique of Hector Berlioz – as a foundation. I took various rhythmic and thematic elements of this movement, shook them up, and came up with a wild fun ride, one which I hope is a worthy modern urban reflection and extrapolation of the original Berlioz.

Many thanks to Beth Bradfish for the use of her electronic equipment in collecting the sounds and to Alex Inglizian, the Paganini of the sound program, whose expertise allowed me to realize my vision of the electronics perfectly.

Beth Bradfish – Fanfare with Singing Insects of South Pond, Lincoln Park, world premiere


Fanfare is a song of praise. It is inspired by summer days when I was welcomed to Lincoln Park by the crescendo of singing insects. I usually greeted them, tried to sing with them or sometimes laughed at the sudden huge chorus that rose up out of nowhere – and then the sudden decrescendo. I wondered how they communicated? I couldn’t see them – their sound just emerged and disappeared. Sometimes the songs were like a quiet electricity cutting through the air.
I fell in love with those summer singers, and I was filled with awe everytime I heard them.
I wrote Fanfare in praise of Nature, which produces wonder, and in praise of the Love that somehow inspires us to reach out beyond ourselves to connect through song, through whatever we have within us so that we can be part of life and the source of our lives – Love.
I invite you to participate, if you choose, when directed by the conductor. Choose from any of the following files found on Soundcloud…

George Walker – Address for Orchestra

The Address for Orchestra was composed in Paris. After the performance of the third

movement by the Atlanta Symphony in a Rockefeller Foundation Symposium in 1968, the work

quickly reached legendary status.The entire score was recorded by the Oakland Youth

Orchestra for Desto Records.The European premiere was presented at a festival in Mons,

Belgium in 1971 with James DePriest conducting. The third movement played by the Dallas

Symphony was included in a documentary, “The Black Composer”, televised by PBS. The DC

Youth Orchestra performed the

entire work on their first European tour and their first international competition. Robert Shaw

programmed the Address for Orchestra as the first work on the opening concert of the

subscription series of the Atlanta Symphony in 1981.

The first movement begins with an introduction. The motivic content contains a triplet of three

repeated notes that becomes the basic element of the entire movement. These notes are

incorporated in the subject of a fugal exposition that is presented in changing meters, 3-8, 4-

8,-5-8,-6-8 and in subsequent iterations. After the exposition the modulatory technique of the

conventional fugue is replaced by a lyrical section. This is typically found in a sonata form. This

is followed by the return of the introductory material. A rhythmical accompaniment to the

arching melodic line of the lyrical section employs the repeated interval of the major second

from the introduction. The recurrence of these relationships is evident throughout this


The second movement is monothematic. lt consists of several phrases. The first is introduced

by the bassoon, then an oboe and the initial melody by a horn. The quiet cadence utilizes winds,

harp and the lower strings- cellos and contra basses.

The introduction that precedes the passacaglia of the third movements is divided into two

sections.The brief recitative in the strings is followed by two phrases of chromatic harmonies

over a pedal point.

The passacaglia was originally called “Ground”. It comprises eleven notes within the framework

of seven measures. Its construction is uniquely modulatory. The meter, 3-2. is unchanged in this

movement.There are fifteen variations with distinct characteristics in instrumentation,

harmonization, rhythm and tempo above and below the theme. There are aspects in the

Address for Orchestra that appear in later orchestral works as the Folksongs for Orchestra,

Lilacs for Voice and Orchestra, Pageant and Proclamation,Tangents and Foils for Orchestra

(Hommage a Saint George).

Appropriately, there is the declamatory statement of the beginning of of the Address for

Orchestra, the mournful reiterations in the second movement evoking the anguished stillness of

Gettysburg and the unsettling tranquillity of Harper’s Ferry.The progressive development of the

Variations leads to a conclusion that is both affirmative and defiant. The Address for Orchestra

has a Lincolnesque connection to the unresolved and disturbing American dilemma that

underlines the social fabric of our society.

Click here for CCO and Tomeka Reid_Press Release 2018


January 14, 2018
7:30 pm


Constellation Chicago
3111 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60618 United States
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