Christopher Antonio William Lancaster is the man choreographer Bill T. Jones calls his ‘band leader,’ though he calls himself ‘music director.’ Lancaster is one of three composers in the small ensemble that accompanies Jones’ tribute to Abraham Lincoln, Fondly Do We Hope…Fervently Do We Pray.
Lancaster started out as a classical cellist. “As I played classical music in concert situations, it seemed to just go out into an empty sort of space,” though, he says. “Then I got the opportunity to play with some dancers. It was a chance to improvise and also when I played something it came back to me in the dancers’ motions.”
“I was playing electric cello. Neither classical nor jazz players were very interested in what I could do. Working with dancers just was a natural fit and with the composition work it has just been where I’ve found myself.”
Branching Out With Other Instruments
“For our current project, I’ve actually had to go to instruments besides the cello for the kind of sounds and the feel that we want. There are some traditional pieces in the score. I don’t think that I’ve actually touched a violin since I was eleven, but it just seemed right for parts, so I’m playing it. I’m also playing some mandolin and some bass guitar.”