Brian Baxter (b.1985) is a Chicago-based composer, arts administrator, and drummer whose music is vigorous, direct, and heavily influenced by personal experiences of places and environments. Lawrence A. Johnson of The Classical Review has described Brian’s music as “smartly scored and makes effective impact with economy of means.” He writes primarily chamber, orchestral, and vocal music.
Having co-founded the Chicago Composers Orchestra in 2010, a group dedicated to the performance and advocacy of orchestral music by living composers, Brian serves as a co-Artistic Director and Board of Directors President overseeing all aspects of the organization. Brian’s passion for new music is equaled by his passion for music education and is put to work as Director of Operations with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras where he oversees more than 500 student musicians in a variety of orchestras and chamber music groups that perform across the Chicago area and around the world. Here he founded a Composition Seminar that supports pre-collegiate student composers.
Brian has self-released two albums including Roots Run Deep featuring the Chicago Q Ensemble with Angela Tomasino in 2016 and Book of Drum in 2014. For both projects he received Individual Artist Program Grant Awards from the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events. Brian’s music has also been recorded by the Palomar Ensemble on its Ten x Ten collaborative arts vinyl release (November, 2013) and by Gaudete Brass Quintet on their debut release with Cedille Records, Chicago Moves (November, 2012). His chamber and vocal music have been performed by the Anaphora Ensemble, Chicago Q Ensemble, Forecast Music, Gaudete Brass Quintet, neoPhonia New Music Ensemble, Palomar Ensemble, Phoenix Concerts, Singers On New Ground and many others. His large ensemble works have received performances from the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestras, Chicago College of Performing Arts Wind Ensemble, Chicago Composers Orchestra, Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras, and Vermont Youth Orchestra.
In a collaboration with Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), Brian co-wrote orchestral arrangements of My Brightest Diamond’s music for a concert featuring Shara with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra at Millennium Park’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago (August, 2011). At South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, Brian’s music and performance was featured as a part of Gabriel Prokofiev’s NonClassical Showcase at the Velveeta Room (March, 2011).
Brian holds degrees in music composition from Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts (M.M.) and Illinois Wesleyan University (B.M.). He has received seven consecutive ASCAP PLUS Awards from 2009-2015.
Brian originally hails from the Illinois town of Geneva situated on the banks of the Fox River just fifty-five miles west of downtown Chicago. His family’s roots however lie in the rural New England state of Vermont. When Brian is not composing or administrating he is most likely spending time with his family and friends or recording a hot new spoken word album.