A podcast about the most fascinating time in classical music history: right now.

Hosted by composer Seth Boustead, Relevant Tones features interviews with and music by some of the most creative figures in contemporary classical music, themed shows exploring new trends in classical music and frequent live streamed shows featuring conversations and music performances.

Relevant Tones is a production of Access Contemporary Music.

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#312 Useless Machines

The opening night of the Relevant Tones Tenth Anniversary Festival featured an exciting multi-media concert of music inspired by Rube Goldberg machines. We were joined by Rube’s granddaughter Jennifer George who is also the director of the Rube Goldberg Institute, and an all-star roster of musicians for an unforgettable evening. MUSIC Rube G. by Frank … Continue reading #312 Useless Machines

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Seth Boustead

Seth Boustead is a composer, broadcaster, writer, concert producer, in-demand speaker and visionary with the goal of revolutionizing how and where classical music is performed and how it is perceived by the general public.   As a composer he has forged a unique and highly personal identity through pieces that are regularly performed and heard on radio broadcasts around the world.  

Recent projects include an operatic adaptation of the classic Chris Marker film La Jetée, the inspiration for Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys and an hour-long chamber piece inspired by stories of Italo Calvino.

As the founder and Executive Director of Access Contemporary Music, Seth has created a wide range of unique programs to bring contemporary classical music to new audiences including the Sound of Silent Film Festival, the Thirsty Ears Festival – the country’s only classical music street fest, a chain of storefront music schools teaching musical creativity, a concert series in Chicago and New York and more than a dozen annual international commissioning projects in Chicago, Milwaukee, Mexico City and New York.

Seth is the host and creator of the ASCAP Deems Taylor award-winning podcast Relevant Tones featuring music by and conversations with some of the most creative figures in contemporary classical music.  He also created the Concept Lab series in Manhattan.  Find more at sethboustead.com

Stephen Anthony Rawson

Stephen Anthony Rawson is a Chicago-based pianist, composer, and arranger. He has performed as a guest artist at the Space City New Music Festival, Lone Star College, the Oregon Composers Forum, and throughout Chicago.

In 2019, he began working with Grammy Award-winning artist Jennifer Hudson as her music assistant. Together, they prepared for her role as Aretha Franklin in the biopic Respect (2021). Stephen teaches piano and composition at Access Contemporary Music and City Strings & Piano. He also works as an interviewer and album reviewer for Relevant Tones.

Stephen has composed and arranged music for collegiate ensembles, professional musicians, and students. In 2020, he arranged, performed, and composed original music for the musical Out of My Dreams, A Revue for the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. He is also the music director of the Musical Theater Ensemble, and the accompanist for the Community Choir and Vocal Tech 3 class at the Old Town School of Folk Music.

In 2015, Stephen earned his Bachelor’s degree in composition at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, where he studied with Dr. Chiayu Hsu. He continued his piano studies and gave recitals under the instruction of Dr. Owen Lovell.

He then attended the University of Oregon where he taught first-year aural skills and music theory as a Graduate Teaching Fellow, and an upper-level summer course called Improvised Music and Analysis. While in Oregon, Stephen performed new works in the Oregon Composers Forum, and directed the improvisation-based ensemble Sonos Domum.

Austin Gray Williams

Chicago based composer Austin Gray Williams derives style and aesthetic from many different styles of music and music culture. His music often being visceral and brash in nature, often depicts issues that humanity finds hard to come to terms with.

However, having lived in the Midwest for most of his life (Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois) there’s no doubt that the natural environment of this region has influenced the beauty in his music, showing a bit of optimism come through. 

Having actively been part of a variety of music groups ranging from small jazz groups, large orchestra’s, and punk trio’s, there is a wide variety of influence on his work. With such a variable background it’s not uncommon to see multiple influences at once, though still incredibly cohesive.

In writing music with a variety of style and aesthetic Austin hopes to reach those who don’t otherwise have a voice or cannot voice it themselves. Life is messy, harsh, and beautiful. Austin Gray Williams reflects on finding the space where chaos and beauty intersect.

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