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, February 28, 2005
Underground Nostalgia: Beautiful Ugly

I remember: the first time I heard the word underground was in connection with Andy Warhol and the band, The Velvet Underground. At the time, the ‘in’ style was to be outrageous – any combination of modernism, biker, retro camp and glitter. The object was to stand out from the droning crowd, be an individual, a free spirit. After a good many years, the ‘style’ eventually made its way into the commercial pop culture. It was co-opted by the show-biz industry and gave birth to monstrosities of taste. Then the punks came in, getting rid of hair, bringing in their masochistic tattoos and accessories and ripped, ugly clothing. That was revolutionary at first, but soon became co-opted as fashion. Now the 'style' is mostly sported by weekend visitors to the Village, or, as true-blue New Yorkers call them, the bridge-and-tunnel people. But if it weren’t for them, the Village – East or West - would be bland….It seems as if styles have completely turned around, as discreet dress code is a must for even the most famous underground figures. The only artist I know who still dresses up is Colette - but it is part of her artistic creations as she herself is the subject of her art.

Having been raised in Paris, I was always intrigued by the cool, worn look the New York artists seem to effortlessly exude. The Euro attitude is: have few clothes, make sure they are in perfect condition and wear your best stuff as often as possible. Quite a contrast... In the sixties, when Paco Rabane and Cardin hit the streets of Paris with their geometric shapes and mini-skirts, I only wore long dresses from the flea market, going as far retro as the Pre-Raphaelites, not just the1920s and 30s. But at the height of the glitter phase, I sported a totally shaved head as early as 1976.

In the last few years, there is a nostalgia expressed in dress styles that refer back to fun times of the past: on the right wing side, the fifties with the prim and proper twin-sets and on the left-wing side, the sixties and seventies hippies, with an almost frightening variety of prints and loud colors, with crazy little outfits that only cover some parts of the body, leaving a lot exposed... it may be why I never see anyone on the street wearing them. These new self-serving styles that nobody wears express a crazy, desperate artistic expression of nostalgia for the freedom values of the past… before the world turned to conservatism. One example is Disco Nostalgia – an exhibit at the Performing Arts Library celebrated the lost days of the last good times when people actually allowed themselves to dance and enjoy loud music with beat and be 'wild'. Nobody is 'walking on the wild side' (Lou Reed) now! But even the nostalgic styles are somehow off the mark when they only express a need for attention and sex, whereas the original hippie and beat styles were provocative in a different way, with personality, self-expression, revolt, not just sexually.