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
Friday, January 18, 2008
Human Sacrifice?

I have noted lately how often composers are asked for commissions that actually cost them money, negative commissions, so to speak, in which they are expected to support the event in more ways than one besides donating their services. I don't dare say it out loud...but whenever someone asks me for a piece, I have a moment of anxiety wondering whether I'll be able to "afford" the commission in terms not only of time but of budget. On the other hand, I am not in a position to turn down any offers as there are so many of us who have music to be performed, and I am thrilled to be asked, so I usually end up doing the project... but as of this year I need to try to better balance my earnings versus the demands of creative projects and become a bit more selective.

In our depressed arts economy where there is never enough to go around, the reasoning goes: "if the performers don't perform, we don't have a concert. The composers have already done their work so it doesn't matter if we pay them." This distorted way of thinking is prompted by harder times. Ideally, a more democratic perspective would be to divide the money equally between all the people involved: performers,composers as well as organizers who all should get compensated for their work. This would create more a kinship and a sense of respect of everyone. When I get paid the money is actually returned to the music community (performers, engineers, etc.) so it creates a healthy spiral effect in the form of new projects being realized. It goes all the way around. But as it is now, I have to wait a long time to afford to pay performers to record the new work. This is why I so often turn to doing my own performing and writing a lot of electronic music which does not require anyone else, just my fingers and my voice. Meanwhile, I have over an hour's worth of chamber and orchestral music from the past eight years that never got a chance to get properly recorded. I know what you're going to say: who cares?...

Our society is focused on the performers because they are at the front of the stage, but the musical experience does not exist without the piece. ANY composer's work is worth money, as any other work made to order, even from composers "with no fancy names" (that was the name of an event programmed by Phill Niblock), as any carpenter's work: you can do without the nice carpentry work, but it sure enhances your lifestyle and so does music. This treatment of composers is really unsettling, and it seems to be getting worse all the time. I think one should be very careful in suggesting that for any reason composers should NOT get paid...making them the the sacrificial victims of the music community. The up-side of is short-lived, and the down-side affects everyone of us, performers and composers alike, in the long run.

And by the way... here is an interesting podcast from Kyle Gann talking about the postminimalist movement. Here is the link: