Artistic Director

Artistic Director

Renèe Baker has been at the extreme forefront of creative/avant garde music whiledeveloping this unique ensemble since 1991. Utilizing some of the finest musicians that cross the classical world as well as jazz greates, she has crafted a group of the best traditionalists and married them to dedicated improvisors. A true genre bending experience- her skills as a conductor and musician coordinator have been used by some of the finest musical organizaitons in Chicago.

Ms. Baker is also the Artistic Director of the Chicago Sinfonietta Chamber Ensemble as well as Mantra Blue Free Orchestra.  As an improvisor,Renèe has performed and recorded with Nicole Mitchell’s Black Earth Stringa, Karl E. H. Seigfried’s New Quartet and Galaxy String Quartet, the David Boykin Expanse, Orbert Davis, George Lewis, Mwata Bowden, the Great Black Music Ensemble, the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic and the Chicago Jazz Orchestra. She is a member of the Chamber of the AACM, Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. In recent years, Renèe has premiered original compositions with the Chicago Sinfonietta, The Joffrey Ballet Chamber Series, and as part of the PionoForte Salon Series and the Umbria Jazz Festival (Italy.) Future collaborations will include MCA (Museum of Contemporary Art), Chiago Architecture Foundation, South Shore Cultural Center, among others.

Renèe is Principal Violinist of the Internationally renowned Chicago Sinfonietta; she has worked with the orchestra since its founding in 1987. She has been a participant in many international music festivals includign Classical Music Festival (Eisenstadt, Austria), and Philomusica di Chicago (Martigues, France.) She has performed extensively throughout Africa, Asia and Europe.

Her debut at the prestigious Ravinia Festival was as the viola soloist for “Don Quixote” (Strauss), in which she partnered with John Sharp, Principal Cellist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She has performed numerous solo recitals at venues such as the Chicago Cultural Center, and she has been a featured performer with many chamber music ensembles, including her own FAQtet – an ensemble that primarily performs classical repertoire by African-American composers. CMOP represents her debut as a conductor and composer-in-residence of this new music ensemble.



Chicago Tribune 8/5/2012 Howard Reich, critic

..In a day thick with great singing, Chicagoan Dee Alexander triumphed twice. Her brief set outdoors showed her in gorgeous voice, the singer inventing strands of melody that stretched on and on. Later, indoors, her work with Renee Baker’s Chicago Modern Orchestra Project encouraged Alexander to push still further into avant-garde territory, her novel sonic effects inventively answered by vocalists Ann Ward, Saalik Ziyad and Taalib-Din Ziyad.

This free-ranging vocal quartet drew considerable inspiration from the strings, brass, reeds and percussion instruments ofBaker’s sprawling orchestra, a collective-improvisation powerhouse building on the innovations of Muhal Richard Abrams’ Experimental Band of the early 1960s and others that followed. To hear these vocalists riffing freely alongside a quartet of violins – the horns then joining the charge in full cry – was to relish musical techniques forged by the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM).

Its breakthroughs still resonate in contemporary music, and Baker and colleagues built on them boldly.

South Shore Jazz Lives – Because Jazz Unites! runs noon to 8 p.m. Sunday at the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Dr.; $10; free for children 12 and under; visit

“Baker offers enough triple-stopping and floating spiccato to suggest Billy Bang.” ~Jazz Word Reviews

“Renèe Baker offered soul drenched prayers on the violin and viola as she built upward to powerful verve.” ~Hurd Audio

“Baker’s violin work combines the fiercely accurate attack of the Western classical traditionw ith jazz-honed flexibility and quarter tonality.” ~Jazz Times

“[Baker employs] a plethora of string techniques, from ghostly glassandos and crystalling harmonics to sinewy double stops and pneumatic pizzicato.”~ All About Jazz

“[Baker] punched out her lines, airing each melodic phrase out before determinedly unleashing another. In the intervals between phrases she seemed to be thinking, ‘What’d ya think of that!?!’ Quite fine, I thought, quite fine, indeed.” ~Jazz and Improvised Music Webzine

“An uncommonly versitile player who seems to thrive in unusual settings, violinist Renèe Baker has made the Velvet Lounge her laboratory for delving into jazz-meets-classical ventures. The Mantra Blue Free Orchestra pushes further still, bringing together instrumentalists from the Association for the Advancements of Creative Musicians (AACM) and the Chicago Sinfonietta, as well as modern jazz and alternative rock idioms. With personnel such as flutist Nicole Mitchell, trombonist Steve Berry, saxophonist David Boykin and violinist James Sanders, it clearly has a great deal going for it.”~ Chicago Tribune

Renèe Baker represented exclusively by
RCB Arts Management
425 Callery Drive Bolingbrook, Illinois 60490
tel: 630.759.7204/630.258.7554(cell)
Renee Baker