On March 1, 2019 the Back Pocket Duo (Annie Jeng, pianist and Colin McCall, percussionist) will perform Crystals (on empathy) as a part of their residency at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The Empathy Project involves commissions by several composers to develop new works which focus on the theme of "empathy". The hour-long concert experience creates a narrative which aims to blur the lines between traditional roles delineated in typical concert music: performer to performer, performer to listener, composer to performer to listener, etc. with the goal of fostering empathy in their audiences and beyond.
Crystals features a newly-commissioned text by American poet Geoffrey Nutter that is then broken up into four movements which can be arranged by the performers and placed throughout the concert in whatever arrangement they choose. Crystals also incorporates elements of play, improvisation, verbal and/or non-verbal communication, and on-the-spot decision making combined with traditional musical notation to create four unique movements that are unified by a common theme of love.
I met this inspiring duo of fearless musicians during graduate school at the University of Michigan, and since forming in 2016, they have found a musical niche somewhere between pop and classical music.