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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Thursday, September 14, 2006
Momentum for pianist Joshua Pierce

I am listening to Beethoven again, after many years of disregard for his music, which I realized, was due to the so-called ‘German-style’ interpretation of Beethoven, with ponderous tempos and overstated dynamic contrast. This past spring, something clicked when I heard the Moonlight Sonata performed by Joshua Pierce – the Kirnberger temperament helped a lot, but its is through Joshua’s interpretation that I was able to rediscover Beethoven - I am now enjoying Joshua Pierce’s newly-released triple CD set of Beethoven's five piano concertos, performed by the Slovak State Philharmonic. This CD is Pierce's fifth project on the MSR Classics label.

How does Joshua Pierce play Beethoven? How is it different? What’s magical about it? Is it the emphasis on rhythmic groupings, creating timbre with rhythms, or the utter lack of exaggeration, the fluidity, the simplicity, even? Beethoven is the first romantic, but what is the true meaning of ‘romantic’? Some consider romanticism as a synonym of excess, and I sat with Josh at the Starbucks trying to nail the definition of ‘romantic’. While I deplored the overuse of the word romantic as in ‘a romantic dinner’, we agreed that the true-to-form definition is a style focused on self-expression. Self-expression, as in the individual versus society and the limitations it entails, does not necessarily mean unbridled passion. This special quality of balanced self-expression is what makes Joshua’s interpretation unique, in its unpretentious but dazzling clarity. No exaggeration here, no excessive rubato or aggressive dynamics. It makes Beethoven’s music come through exactly as it did historically, somewhere between Mozart and Schubert.

And the momentum is, as this major recording is being released on MSR Classics, coming up this fall, the American Festival of Microtonal Music is also releasing a Joshua Pierce piano album of works by Alan Hovhanes, Robert Bonotto, Ivan Wyschnegradsky, Roland Moser, Maurice Ohana, and John Cage’s Daughters of the Lonesome Isle, a virtuosic work for prepared piano, plus pieces for two pianos by Charles Ives and Stepan Konicek performed by Pierce and Dorothy Jonas, his collaborator of 20 years.

I should be noted that Joshua Pierce has worked closely with David Tudor in interpreting John Cage’s music, extrapolating from score grids of possibilities, throwing coins to obtain the I Ching hexagrams linked to the particular tones that would constitute that day’s iteration of the piece. Josh said that this unique training in John Cage’s music has improved the way he interprets any other music… In this world of hyper-specialization – even in the arts - it is refreshing to see how playing both classical and avant-garde repertoire can lead to a higher level of sophistication in one's musical approach.