Composer/keyboardist/producer Elodie Lauten creates operas, music for dance and theatre, orchestral, chamber and instrumental music. Not a household name, she is however widely recognized by historians as a leading figure of post-minimalism and a force on the new music scene, with 20 releases on a number of labels.

Her opera Waking in New York, Portrait of Allen Ginsberg was presented by the New York City Opera (2004 VOX and Friends) in May 2004, after being released on 4Tay, following three well-received productions. OrfReo, a new opera for Baroque ensemble was premiered at Merkin Hall by the Queen's Chamber Band, whose New Music Alive CD (released on Capstone in 2004) includes Lauten's The Architect. The Orfreo CD was released in December 2004 on Studio 21. In September 2004 Lauten was composer-in-residence at Hope College, MI. Lauten's Symphony 2001, was premiered in February 2003 by the SEM Orchestra in New York. In 1999, Lauten's Deus ex Machina Cycle for voices and Baroque ensemble (4Tay) received strong critical acclaim in the US and Europe. Lauten's Variations On The Orange Cycle (Lovely Music, 1998) was included in Chamber Music America's list of 100 best works of the 20th century.

Born in Paris, France, she was classically trained as a pianist since age 7. She received a Master's in composition from New York University where she studied Western composition with Dinu Ghezzo and Indian classical music with Ahkmal Parwez. Daughter of jazz pianist/drummer Errol Parker, she is also a fluent improviser. She became an American citizen in 1984 and has lived in New York since the early seventies

Visit Elodie Lauten's Web Site
Monday, April 18, 2005
Ten reasons to stop composing

Are we better off dead? If you look at music history, the composers that have remained as household names were well-known or established during their lifetime. There is no such thing as a composer becoming known post-mortem. If we cannot achieve status in this lifetime, it is unlikely that we will later. Therefore, composing for posterity is an illusion. I have a close example: my father, Errol Parker, who passed away in 1998, and whose contribution is acknowledged in jazz history books. I was really disappointed to see that there was no interest for his work, not one performance offer, not even from the musicians who closely worked with him. We actually are not better off dead!

There are just too many of us. The American Music Center alone has 2,500 members! As the opportunities dwindle, the needs are multiplied. This is a situation of too much demand and little offer, therefore we are placed in a weak position, like workers in a recession who have to remain unemployed or take less or no pay.

People want music for free. Young people who crave it cannot afford it. I personally have a hard time blaming them for stealing files on the internet, given the financial burden put on students in this country. Where does this leave us, the music-makers? It will take a long time before the industry adjusts to selling songs on the internet, and it would take a gigantic amount of song downloads at 99 cents each to amount to anything significant.

As a result of the way the institutions are structured, there are too many limitations on artistic freedom. Programs are content-oriented. I don’t want to be told what subject to compose or even what instrumentation. In fact, why should any composer need a ‘subject’? We are not writing program music. Because of film and television, people need stories, so we are compelled to write a ‘story’ for each piece, when it should be unnecessary. Furthermore, if some program gives me the story or subject, I find it limiting, not motivating.

Composing in this day and age means being actively involved in not only the writing the performing and presenting of new work. Whereas writing only requires time (and even time can be hard to squeeze), presenting requires budgets. For many composers the only way to present their work is to support it themselves, and how long can we continue to do this? As we get older, as we get pushed out of the funding opportunities (everything is geared towards ‘emerging’ artists or under 35), and as regulars jobs are more difficult to obtain, composing becomes a luxury we can no longer afford.

There is no encouragement to compose. In fact, everything seems to dissuade us from keeping up the work: no commissions - the ineluctable reality of being for ever ghettoized.

Can’t think of a new piece that fits in a conventional mold.

Making a truly inspired work would take a year of free time.

We’ve done enough already.

Realistically, if we stop composing no one will miss anything or be affected in any significant way.

Regardless, I just started a new piece, and I really can’t find any rational reason to write it.