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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Monday, June 20, 2005
Success revisited

It seems that our Western civilization entails a conditioning to pursue success versus happiness. From early days of schooling to the pursuit of careers, to psychotherapy even, people are constantly brainwashed with the power of positive thinking and the idea of success as presented through the mass media. What is success in a happy pill society? And what does it mean for a composer? Actually, it is not as obvious as it may seem.

Are a Pulitzer Prize and a teaching job success for a composer? Many Pulitzer winners are actually not very well known at all. And even the household names, do they actually make a living strictly from composing? Don’t they most often have to rely on teaching jobs to get by? Is success defined in ‘professional terms’, i.e. earning a living as a composer, which then would mostly apply to those who in commercial music. Is success in selling yourself? In marketing? The capitalist system prompts us to equate success with money and fame. However, from an artistic and creative standpoint, a lot of the music produced strictly for money is worthless from an esthetic and spiritual point of view.

Some people are famous but not rich. There are levels of fame. One can be famous in a small circle, semi-famous, relatively famous, just for 15 minutes. There are so many of us. We’re a democracy, not an aristocracy. What is it that drives our society to constantly look for kings and queens?

I would like to try and redefine the elements that make a composer successful, not according to capitalist standards, but according to a set of alternative values: communication, quality and continuity. The first element is communication: It is important that the music is heard, and we can take full advantage of the accessibility of recording and what I call the ‘free distribution system’, which does not make money but makes it possible to be heard. The second element is the intrinsic quality of the piece. Quantity is not quality. Is the piece unique? Does it bring a new approach? Is it, if not totally new, pretty and enjoyable? Or so difficult it makes the listener feel really smart? Does it linger? Does it make people talk? The third element is continuity. Is the composer able to continue to create new work regardless of commissions? That is being truly successful.