Like so many of you, we at E.L.C.O. were saddened to learn the news that David Bowie left this world on the quiet, gray Sunday of January 10, 2016. I had originally planned to compose a longer essay discussing why his music resonates so easily with classical musicians and why we so greatly enjoy performing it. These reasons are many: its always had an 'instrumental' sensibility that likely arose from his early interest in jazz saxophone, his rhythms are often highly contrapuntal and he has a good sense for pairing timbre with formal gesture. All of these things make it very easy for a group like ours to bring his music to life in new ways, but they don't answer the question of why we care about it.
As a longtime staple of our performance repertoire, David Bowie's music is clearly of great importance to us. What may be less clear to you is the profound influence that his life and work have on E.L.C.O. as a philosophical and aesthetic project—why we make music and how we make music are, in many ways, direct responses to the examples set forth by his personal and creative legacy. Throughout his many variations in personal and musical style, David Bowie promoted creativity in all its forms; built bridges between different styles, genres, aesthetics, types of people, and ways of life; and presented a consistently optimistic view of music's power to improve individual consciousness and of individual consciousness's power to improve society. It would be hubris to claim that we live up to that example. It would be honest to claim that we strive to.