Fine Tuned Music Series - Latitude 49

Oct 29, 2019

Latitude 49 is a contemporary classical group of piano, strings, winds and percussion. The group is comprised of six musicians - including percussionist Chris Sies and pianist Dr. Jani Parsons - who are married and both teach at Baylor University's School of Music. The mix-chamber ensemble derives its name from the parallel along Canada and United States border - and so too brings together musicians from both countries.

In this episode of the Fine Tuned Music Series, Sies and Parsons discuss how Latitude 49 was formed when they were at the University of Michigan, what "new music" in classical means and the changes they see happening in the Central Texas music scene. 

Learn more about Latitude 49's Chris Sies and Jani Parsons in the full conversation below:

The music featured in Latitude 49's Fine Tuned episode include Huascarán composed by Gabriella Smith and A Wish for the Displaced composed by Virgil Moorefield. Listen to full versions of those pieces below. 

The description of Huascarán and A Wish for the Displaced can be found in the liner notes of Latitude 49's 'Curious Minds' Album. 

"Huascarán is the highest mountain in Peru and also the name of the national park surrounding it where I spent several days backpacking in January 2016. This piece is inspired by its vast landscapes, never-ending mountains turquoise glacier-fed lakes, the rhythm and perpetual motion of endless travel, the gradually changing landscapes, and the way they change you."

A Wish for the Displaced was composed by Virgil Moorefield after his 2015 vacation in Italy. The discription for the piece highlights the composer's "stark realization" that across the Mediterranean people were fleeing their own countries, making their way towards Europe. 

"Some of them were standing on the other side of the water, perhaps, and looking toward Europe. What must they be feeling? What must they be fleeing? What are their fears, their hopes - what kind of life do they seek for themselves and their children?" Moorefield questions.

He dedicated the piece to "all the displaced persons from around the world who are searching for a new life, in a new country, with peace and dignity."