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Blog Archive



Ted Hearne Premieres "Baby (an argument)" with Ensemble ACJW

Ted Hearne has long considered vocal music his "home turf," authoring powerful, politically-charged works such as Katrina Ballads, Consent, and But I Voted for Shirley Chisholm—each centered around voice, text, and the interplay with instruments. His newly-commissioned work, Baby (an argument) works with voice, but in this piece, voices come not from bodies that are present, but rather from recordings—samples of r&b recordings from years past. Mixed together with the instrumental sounds on those recordings, these samples are warped, transformed, and spatially positioned on stage between pianist and percussionist, perched at opposite ends of the stage. 

The result interpolates the sound world of r&b—Hammond organs, Rickenbacker bass, synthesized vocal pads—through live instruments, including winds, brass, piano, and percussion. The single word, "baby", is slowed, skewed, broken into syllables; framed as "an argument", the piece forces the listener to ask who is addressing whom—and how. Baby questions the intersection between argument and affection, slowly meditating on the sounds we make when we engage in both. 

Commissioned by Ensemble ACJW, Baby will premiere on February 12th at Skidmore College, where the ensemble is in residence, and will later move to Carnegie Hall on February 15th. PSNY composer and pianist Timo Andres will be a featured guest artist with ACJW for this performance. 

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