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, March 03, 2008
Avant-post synchronicity

Recently perusing a Brooklyn newsleaf (actually, no other than the wonderful L Magazine, an illustrated listing of goings-on in New York, which I still cannot find in my Manhattan downtown neighborhood), I noticed on the cover something about the death of the ‘avant-garde’ in New York. Intrigued, I looked at the article inside went through a list of the names that would constitute the avant-garde in all different art forms (literature, art, music, theater, etc.) but in a ‘dude’ kind of style that makes everything appear cool and of-the-now. The article was a misnomer, as obviously the old avant-garde is not dead and remains a culture of interest even for the blasé new gen-X, Y and Zs.

Striving for a definition of avant-garde, I would tend to think it is a matter of spirit, and attitude, rather than an esthetic per se that defines avant-garde – I am aware that many of us hate the expression "avant-garde" as a synonym of old and stuffy. I can’t help recalling Stefania de Kennessey’s "derrière garde" festival a few years back: the funny thought was to replace "arrière" — which would be the opposite of "avant"— by "derrière" which means both behind and the corresponding body part.

But there is something deeper in this expression, which points to how the avant transforms into the arrière very quickly. Creative attitudes easily change. I don’t see young composers being even interested in being revolutionary. Maybe that is something from the past. Maybe there are just too many possible forms of expression and technological miracles, and it is now unnecessary to be revolutionary in art. And that’s all been done before. Even being original seems pointless or can even be a deterrent to audiences, funders or even performers – if your music does not identify itself as part of a style or trend by some element of commonality, if it is not readily understandable, it will easily be dismissed.

Avant-post synchronicity is basically the creative cycle that occurs when an idea is broken in by someone, and it may first come as a shock, and possibly be ignored or under-rated or even criticized for a while, until years later other creators recycle the idea more successfully that the initiator. The “avant” is an outburst but the "post" is what hits the target. I have on occasion been a victim of this avant-post phenomenon – and most true creators probably have. Coming up with a new idea, but doing too early for it to be a viable vehicle – until someone else picks it up and makes it into that award-winning film soundtrack. When the "post" hits, what are the original creators to do? Laugh or cry... but most of all not look back.