Unorthodox classical music promoter Jim Bailey launches ‘Soundscape’ in Boulder

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Photo: Lumos Percussion Group
The Lumos Percussion Group, comprised of three Colorado Symphony musicians, will perform in Jim Bailey's new Boulder concert series, "Soundscape," in May.

Denver classical music promoter Jim Bailey has a passion for unusual sounds and rarely-heard works. For the last two and a half years, he's been organizing classical, jazz and world music concerts at Denver clubs and bars including Dazzle Jazz and Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret.

Now, Bailey is bringing his unorthodox programming to Boulder.

His new series, called “Soundscape,” launches at the Dairy Center for the Arts -- a venue not typically known for music -- on Jan. 21.

He's starting with a concert focusing on forgotten women in classical music.

"The knowledge of the women musicians that I knew was astounding," he said. "And so it was easy to put the series together."

That concert will feature music by Hildegard von Bingen, who Bailey calls "the infamous 12th century mystic;" a world premier performed by the Boulder-based Lyric Duo (violin and viola); and piano pieces by 84-year old west coast composer, Emma Lou Diemer and minimalist Ann Southam.

Another unusual concert will feature a quartet of bassoon players -- something rarely seen. "It's like a string quartet in that all the sounds are basically the same," Bailey said. "And obviously it's mostly modern music."

Bailey said he chooses smaller venues in order to attract new audiences -- and audiences that flinch at the cost of tickets at big concert halls.

“I think it’s important for the future of music that we find these alternative venues,” he said. The concerts are also all matinee performances. “I’ve had a belief for quite some time that Denver and Boulder could use a matinee series because there are a lot of people that either can’t or won’t go out to concerts at night in unfamiliar places."

A cello for a guide

Bailey is a trained cellist with a bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate in music, but in the late 80s he burned out on music, sold his instrument and left the industry to work as a financial advisor.

He stayed on that path for 25 years, but the instrument found him again.

“I accidently started playing,” Bailey said.

As he regained his footing, Bailey organized several house concerts. After several casual conversations with colleagues, he then presented a series of world music concerts at Dazzle.

He never planned to become a concert promoter -- he never planned to be financial advisor, either -- but he quickly discovered he had a strong passion for sharing music and attracting new listeners. He also found fulfillment in providing more opportunities for trained local musicians to perform.

Photo: Flamenco Eclectique concert at Lannie's
Flamenco dancer from Spain Salli Landers Gutierrez performs alongside multi-generational guitarist Steve Mullins as part of Jim Bailey's Eclectique concert series at Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret in Denver.

In addition to his new Boulder series, Bailey will continue his concerts at Dazzle, including an evening of classical music infused with jazz elements on Jan. 6 and a program featuring traditional music from India in late March. He has also planned more collaborations with Denver singer Lannie Garrett at Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret.

Next, he hopes to build a music presenting model in Colorado similar to Le Poisson Rouge, the famous Manhattan music venue and multimedia art cabaret.

“There’s enjoyment to be found by hearing really good music performed by wonderful artists at the same time while having a martini and crab cake,” Bailey said.

Click the audio above to hear an interview between Denver classical music promoter Jim Bailey and CPR arts editor Chloe Veltman.