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
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
The 40-year deadline

I was, as usual, perusing the AMC Opportunity Update which conveniently lists upcoming commissions and other programs for composers. Lately, I have been noticing a trend, which seems to get stronger and stronger: opportunities are reserved for the young. Many programs list 40 or even 35 as the age limit.

True, young people should be encouraged, but it is the business of schools and conservatories to offer opportunities for composers who are starting out. To systematically shut out any composer over 40 is, outrageously, politically incorrect. This blatant age discrimination issue needs to be addressed in the broader social context of the arts industry.

What does such an age-driven policy entail? Composing is encouraged for young people; they get a start, get better at it, accomplish a few oeuvres until they reach the doomed age of 35 (!) and the carpet is pulled from under them. Oops… no one wants your music any more, you’re just an old fart now. The composing profession is not like sports or modeling; the activity is not dependent upon the condition of the physical body, but very much on the condition of the mind, which only improves with age and maturity and accumulated knowledge. The craft of composing and developing one’s own voice takes years, so why ostracize the practiced composers when they are just beginning to get good at it? Human life spans are now much longer due to the progress of medicine and health awareness; at 40 one may have another near 40 years to live.

Youth-oriented culture as represented in advertising and popular entertainment is giving a false picture of what our lives are like, and should be counteracted as a deceptive illusion. In our culture, unfortunately, seniors are still being denied even their dignity, and relegated to nursing homes away from the ‘living’, whereas in other histories and geographies age is revered and appreciated as it comes with a certain amount of wisdom, and seniors serve as guides and mentors. But more importantly, the artistic development of a composer takes place over a lifetime. Once discovered, a composer should be allowed to develop and make a worthwhile contribution to the culture. An appropriate form of support would be a long-term award program which would sustain work creation over a number of years.

The youth-oriented approach to support assumes that, once initially encouraged, the composers will reach critical mass on their own. But this is a fallacy; what in fact happens is a process of elimination; only a happy few will gain access to the profession, and many other talents will be lost, along with a culture that could be thriving and enlightening for society as a whole.

The most shocking aspect of this blatant injustice is that it is not being addressed, possibly in fear of challenging the already inadequate support system for composers. Being self-supported gives me the freedom to speak up. I think the practice of offering age-driven opportunities must be stopped.