The Red Room presents a special program of Peabody faculty, students, and local electronic musician Bonnie Jones. An evening to explore the tensile boundaries of composition and free improvisation towards new forms for a new world.

David Smooke (toy piano)
Bonnie Jones (electronics, samples)
The Witches – Ledah Finck (violin) and Louna Dekker-Vargas (flute)


David Smooke (solo composition on toy piano)

The Witches (improvisations & compositions)

Excerpt from new work “Behind the Curtain”
Duo Improvisation

Bonnie Jones / David Smooke (duo improvisation)

The Witches (compositions)

“Pulled Into”
“To a Stranger”


Composer David Smooke (b. 1969) currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland, where he teaches music theory, rock music history, and music composition at the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University, and is the faculty advisor for Peabody’s new music ensemble Now Hear This. The Washington Post claims that “Smooke has some of the most uninhibited brain cells around” and describes his music as “superb […] a kaleidoscopic sonic universe where anything could happen”; the Baltimore Sun adds that it is a “fascinating experience in sound and content […] exceedingly imaginative [and] complex.” His honors include the 2016 Johns Hopkins Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award, and those from the Maryland State Arts Council, BMI, the National Association of Composers USA, SCI/ASCAP, the MacDowell Colony, Yellow Barn, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Ragdale Foundation. He has composed commissions for groups and individuals including the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Cube, Volti Choir, Rhymes with Opera, the Peabody Wind Ensemble, the Great Noise Ensemble, Dark in the Song, the Atlantic Guitar Quartet (funded by the Presser Foundation), bassist Jeffrey Weisner (of the National Symphony Orchestra), toy pianist Phyllis Chen (of ICE), and pianist Amy Briggs, and has worked with ensembles and performers including the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Pacifica String Quartet, eighth blackbird, Ensemble Dal Niente, and the California EAR Unit. He earned an M.M. from the Peabody Conservatory, a B.A. magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, where he received the Century Fellowship, the highest fellowship offered by the Humanities Division. His composition teachers have included Shulamit Ran, David Rakowski, Robert Hall Lewis, and Richard Wernick. In addition to his composition activities, David performs on toy piano with the support of Schoenhut toy pianos, and has written extensively for NewMusicBox, the online magazine of the New Music USA. Previously he served on the faculties of Ohio University, the Chicago College of Performing Arts of Roosevelt University, the Merit School of Music, and the University of Chicago.

The Witches curate new music performances that weave together commissioned pieces for their group and free improvisations. They are continuously looking for opportunities to bring social commentary and exchange to the forefront of their musical projects. Acting as the core members of a modular ensemble, Ledah Finck and Louna Dekker-Vargas offer a wide range of flexibility to collaborators who draw upon a variety of musical and artistic mediums.

The duo has performed throughout Baltimore, from intimate house shows to open public spaces. Several recent performances include playing for patients at the Baltimore VA medical center, appearing at The Crown joined by Baltimore beatboxer Shodekeh, presenting an evening of improvisations and premieres linked by feminist texts, and were featured in a Peabody Honors chamber recital at the First Unitarian Church. Upcoming experiments include an “Improv night” where they will team up with the Hopkins free improv troupe “The Buttered Niblets”, for a night of improvised music and comedy. This fall, they commissioned seven chamber works, asking each composer to honor a specific woman that inspires her/him. The culminating performances in January 2017 will be opened up as spaces for dialogue and exchange on the power of women.

Louna and Ledah formed The Witches in 2015. Their mentors have included Michael Formanek (improvisation), Courtney Orlando of Alarm Will Sound (contemporary repertoire), Marina Piccinini, and David Smooke.

Bonnie Jones is a Korean-American writer, improvising musician, and performer working primarily with electronic music and text. Born in 1977 in South Korea she was raised on a dairy farm in New Jersey, and currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland.

Bonnie creates improvised and composed text-sound performances, videos, and installations that explore the fluidity and function of electronic noise (field recordings, circuit bending) and text (poetry, found, spoken, visual), exposing the tensile nature of identity, history, form, and meaning.

Bonnie has received commissions from the London ICA, Walters Art Museum, Vox Populi and has presented her work extensively in the US, Mexico, Europe, and Asia. She collaborates frequently with writers and musicians. She received her MFA at the Milton Avery School of the Arts at Bard College.

Event location:

The Red Room at Normals Books and Records 425 E. 31st Street Baltimore, MD 21218

The Red Room is a volunteer-run space in Baltimore dedicated to mind-expanding experimental culture, headquartered at Normals Books and Records.