Artist Spotlight

Molly Wilson

When I asked Drew Baumgartner how people might recognize him, he roguishly replied, “Well… you probably just recognize me as that guy with the beard.” But this super-senior from Pleasant Ridge, Mich., has a little more of a résumé than his admittedly impressive – though slightly intimidating – facial hair.
Baumgartner is currently finishing up his degrees in biology and music theory/composition. He has played in many ensembles at Lawrence, including the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble, Improvisation Group of Lawrence University and the popular campus band Love Constellation and the Stars.
Baumgartner has also become intimately familiar with the WLFM radio station over the years, serving as Trivia Grand Master in this past winter’s Great Midwest Trivia Contest, and hosting the weekly radio show “Lawrence Late” at 10 p.m. Tuesday nights.
Baumgartner got his start in music with piano lessons when he was five. He began playing the trumpet in fifth grade and quickly lost interest in piano. He spent high school playing guitar in a rock band and trumpet in school ensembles. Baumgartner decided to continue his trumpet playing, entering Lawrence as a trumpet performance major.
However, not long after he arrived, Baumgartner began improvising with IGLU. In Baumgartner’s words, “I realized I wasn’t a big fan of interpreting other people’s music… so I decided to make other people interpret my music”.
When asked how he would characterize his music, Baumgartner said it’s hard to presently categorize his music because the composition department asks the students to write so many diverse pieces.
Baumgartner’s work is certainly influenced by his biology studies, though; his upcoming recital features a work inspired by protein synthesis and another piece related to the effects of neurotransmitters upon rats that Baumgartner worked with this summer.
The recital will also feature a piece based on a letter by Beethoven, a woodwind quintet and a piece for string quartet, four page turners and a conductor, which is intended to be sight-read.
Next year, Baumgartner will be taking a year off as he applies to graduate schools for composition. Further in the future, he hopes to publish a magazine of new music scores and analyses.
Before then, you can catch his recital this Saturday, May 1, at 1 p.m. in Harper Hall. I can’t guarantee that you’ll understand protein synthesis afterwards, but you’ll definitely hear some good and varied music. Plus you can see the beard.