I like to consider myself as someone who really appreciates music and what it offers us in the world. Then, my perception of what a concert can be gets turned on its head, as it did recently at the Columbia Museum of Art
. This was my first time attending a concert in the Baker & Baker Concert Series, and it was melding of classical works, conversation, and an artistic setting unlike none I had ever experienced.
The chamber music concert took place in the museum’s atrium, beneath the beautiful Dale Chihuly chandelier that welcomes visitors to the building. For the past 34 years — dating back before the current museum building opened in 1998, the Baker & Baker Concert Series has put forth thoughtful presentations of music and cultural history. According to Peter Hoyt, adjunct curator of music at CMA, these concerts are the perfect medium to gain an appreciation of how artistic genres relate to one another.
“Although the Baker and Baker ‘Art of Music’ Series presents great musicians from all over America, these concerts are not just about music,” Hoyt says. “The performances often feature compositions that relate in some way to the art displayed in the Columbia
Museum of Art’s galleries. Discovering these relationships can lead to new ways of experiencing both the art and the music.”
This month the series presented Art of Music: The Complete Sonatas for Violin and Piano by Ludwig von Beethoven. It was a comfortable and casual crowd, sipping wine and beer in jeans and blazers. Everyone there, from age 12 to 80 was bubbling with excitement over violinist Aaron Berofsky and pianist Phillip Bush, both of whom are extremely accomplished and respected musicians who have performed around the world.
It was the perfect kickoff to a series that will include two musical explorations related to contemporary artistic thought relating to the museum’s current exhibition: Mark Rothko: The Decisive Decade 1940 – 1950, which will be up through Jan. 6. The Beethoven concert, which was part of a three-day event, was chosen because both artists were considered true revolutionaries in their fields, “and both had to struggle with the problems that confront anyone who tries to forge a new path,” Hoyt says. And as it turns out, Rothko often listened to Beethoven’s violin sonatas while he worked.
The Dec. 15 concert will feature contemporary pieces written and performed by Haskell Small, who will play music inspired by Rothko’s thought-provoking modernist paintings. After this, a Jan. 4 concert will feature percussionist Greg Stuart and composer Michael Pisaro, who will collaborate on works that take Rothko as a point of departure.
For more information on the Baker & Baker Concert Series, please visit the museum website