Composer Blogs@Sequenza21.com
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

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Friday, May 13, 2005
Masterminds of absurdity

Why compose? This question is like the metaphysical why: why does the world exist, why do we die, why is there evil, why do bad things happen to good peopleÖ and composing is very much like a bad thing that happens to good people.

How can we justify composing? It is a political statement, an exercise in the freedom of speech, and in that respect, it is our right. It is not a self-serving activity. There is little outer success to be expected in serious music, and it has to more do planetary positions and marketing than the intrinsic qualities of a piece. The composer canít really be blamed for composing for ego satisfaction, as the activity typically entails one rejection after another, interrupted by glimpses of success that come and go as fast as shooting stars. Around the time of a premiere, the composer is the object of attention from the public, surrounded by performers and colleagues, but the next day, itís like nothing ever happened. Music mirrors the ephemeral passing of time. All the energies coordinated to present a new work suddenly dispel into nothingness.

In the past centuries, composing was a craft learned from a master, carefully absorbed and practiced, fashioned into a slightly personal style, within a consistent set of parameters. Each piece had a purpose, for the church, for a special celebration, or simply for some princess to fool around on the harpsichord. Composers were practically servants to the powers that be. Has this changed? Yes, and thatís another good reason to compose. We are freer Ė not totally free, but somewhat free. Composing and producing music is now accessible to many more individuals than in the past. But in the 21st century, history and geography are dead weight: each musical element has been subject to so many permutations, so many different styles of music from all the different parts of the world, that making a compositional statement is more like making conceptual art than practicing a craft. In fact, certain composers totally defy the idea of composing technique.

Some of us compose from the heart: for spiritual reasons, for the departed, for a friend, a person we love, for a muse, because of a dream. Or we are motivated by something that takes place somewhere in the future, in reality or imagination. There is such a thing as inspiration Ė but should I use such a naÔve, old-fashioned word? Is the term artist outdated? a romantic notion that no longer applies to our society? Should it be discarded like an over-sentimental birthday card? The word artist carries a social stigma. The artists are like the cursed shamans of a previous civilization, no longer wanted, while the old shamans from the past centuries are glorified because their work is now worth a lot of currency. What are we? If not artists, channels of collective consciousness? Masterminds of absurdity?