501(c)3 nonprofit organizations founded in 2006 

LESPA thanks the Foundation for Contemporary Arts for the 2014 Robert Rauschenberg Award to Elodie Lauten


Marketing: Mike Barry
PR: Jeffrey James
Management: Carolyn Ratcliffe
Projects: Elodie Lauten

LESPA received support from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts 2014 Robert Rauschenberg Award to Elodie Lauten, from the Argosy Foundation Contemporary Music Fund, and public funds from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Senator Daniel Squadron), The Fund for Creative Communities supported by the New York State Council on the Arts and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Manhattan Community Arts Fund, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and aministered by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Material for the Arts, as well as private donations and memberships. We thank our sponsors for their generous support.








Acknowledgements for Waking in New York: Allen Ginsberg Trust, Foundation for Contemporary Arts Robert Rauschenberg Award 2014, The Fund for Creative Communities, supported by the New York State Council on the Arts and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Manhattan Community Arts Fund, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.



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LESPA encourages the creation of new work in contemporary music and musical theater. It facilitates the interface between diverse composers, artists, performers, especially women, and primarily low-income, multi-cultural communities. LESPA's affordable programs show depth and humanity, and effectively address the complexity of our time, improving the quality of life and sense of community.


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Spring 2014 Programs


During the summer of 1996, Allen Ginsberg gave to Elodie Lauten a selection of his poems on the theme of New York for a musical setting. Lauten met Allen Ginsberg when she first came to New York. As a member of the band Flaming Youth, she became a guest in his apartment on East 10th St, and accompanied him in his public readings. Ginsberg encouraged her to compose: one day he brought home a Farfisa organ for her to play - her first experience with an electronic musical instrument. He introduced her to Buddhism, and taught her how to chant mantras and meditate. Albeit unconventional, some form of mentoring took place, and she has always felt deeply connected to Ginsberg's life, poetry and philosophy. Waking in New York represents a cultural legacy as Ginsberg passed on in 1997 a few months after he gave Lauten the poems to set. The Allen Ginsberg Trust considers the project an important tribute to Ginsberg, helped obtain the necessary permissions and facilitated contact with Harper Collins, Allen Ginsberg’s publisher.

Waking in New York has been in progress for a number of years and is currently being expanded towards its fully staged premiere. It was seen in concert version and  semi-staged readings, including the New York City Opera's Vox series. The CD recorded at Sony Studios and released on 4Tay was well received: "a moving memorial"(New Music Box), "Compelling work" (American Record Guide), "One of the most influential works of the last 3 decades." (Sequenza21).

This "first reading" of Waking in New York at St Mark's Church continues a tradition of Ginsberg readings in this powerful locus in the heart of the East Village. The June 1st performance will feature the expanded material for a 90 minute performance arranged for piano, contrabass and flute, sopranos (3), baritone and chorus - performed by the St Mark's Chorus.

In Waking in New York, Ginsberg is just living his life moment to moment. From his apartment in the East Village, his writing is transparent: he tells us about his feelings, observations, perceptions, causes, how he sees the city and the diversity of its people. He is in a constant dialogue with his muses, Freedom and Compassion - characters created by Lauten to represent the ‘feminine’ side of Ginsberg. Suddenly, he may stop to look at the beauty of a tree, the odd shape of a roof top, even the fumes of an exhaust pipe… He tells stories about the odd mix of characters in the neighborhood. He expresses his love of life, humanity and compassion in a down-to-earth, occasionally satirical vision of the world, alternating with moments of deep emotion and poetic lyricism.

Waking in New York uniquely sets the Ginsberg poetry as melody, which brings out the lyrical qualities of the text – as opposed to other settings where his text was set simply as narrative over music.  In Waking in New York every word is sung, even the most unlikely. 



It is with deep sadness that Lower East Side Performing Arts, Inc. (LESPA) announces the passing of its Founder and Executive Director, composer Elodie Lauten on June 3, 2014. She had been suffering from a very aggressive form of cancer and died in Manhattan's Beth Israel Hospital.

Lauten's death came two days after the debut performance of her now-definitive version of Waking in New York, an opera with the libretto created for her by poet Allen Ginsberg about New York City and the diversity of its people, at the Church of St. Mark's in-the-Bowery.

The performance was led by Music Director Kenneth Hamrick, who wrote about her passing, "While so-challenged - but determined over these last days, she did get to hear-watch portions of the archival film (of Waking in New York) made last Friday culminating a weeklong residency at the National Opera Center. With tears in her eyes and a joyous smile on her face, she mouthed the word ‘beautiful,’ indeed while holding a copy of the program in her hands." He also wrote to the cast, "She asked me to thank you for making her devoted wishes for a splendid performance of Waking in New York, indeed her artistic testament, such a realized success."

The National Opera Center performance has been archived at

LESPA Board President Carolyn Ratcliffe added, "Like her music, Elodie was electric and vital, bringing to life the spirit of compassion and tolerance portrayed by the poets she revered. Her ability to weave a complex musical score, pulling from styles ranging from Baroque to Punk is nothing short of amazing.”

Daughter of jazz pianist and composer Errol Parker, Elodie Lauten was born and educated in Paris at the Lycée Claude Monet, the Conservatoire and the Institut d’Etudes Politiques. She moved to New York, and became an American citizen in 1984. She started as a singer/songwriter and explored electronic music, having first-hand experience with analog synthesizers. In 1998 following her first national release Tronik Involutions, she was polled Best Keyboardist of 1998. While at NYU, her Master’s thesis, an opera for the Fairlight Computer Musical Instrument, received an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. She taught composition at NYU and was on the faculty at CUNY’s New York City College of Technology.

Her music spans categories and styles, with fully-scored as well as improvised music, opera-musical theater, orchestral, chamber and electronic music with a discography of over 30 titles on various major and independent labels including Point/Polygram, Capitol, 4Tay, Unseen Worlds, New Tone (Italy), and many others. Venues include the Lincoln Center Festival, the New York City Opera, WNYC, The Whitney Museum, The Kitchen, the Performing Garage, La Mama, the Soho Baroque Opera, Downtown Music Productions, the American Festival of Microtonal Music, the Chicago Arts Festival, Interpretations, the SEM Ensemble, throughout the U.S. with performances and university residencies and in Europe, notably at the Paris Museum of Modern Art, and recently two staged productions running for three weeks at Manhattan’s Theater for the New City: The Two-Cents Opera in 2009 and The Death of Don Juan in 2011.
She had just received the Robert Rauschenberg Award 2014 from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts noting her spirit of innovation, risk-taking, and experimentation; also awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Massachusetts Council on the Arts, The Music Liberty Initiative, Meet the Composer, and the American Music Center, the Argosy Foundation Contemporary Music Fund, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, NYSCA, New York City Department for Cultural Affairs, ASCAP as well as chamber and orchestral commissions.

More about her at

Her musical-artistic legacy continues through the Elodie Lauten Music Trust, actively producing ongoing performances of her works, mostly the opera and theater works she cherished.

Lower East Side Performing Arts, Inc. has launched the Elodie Lauten Music Fund. Tax-deductible contributions honoring her can be made at: Elodie Lauten Music Fund

As to her last wishes, following cremation, a much-musical, celebratory Memorial Service is planned for the Church of St Mark’s in-the-Bowery.

Biographies, professional affiliations, photos and press:
Jeffrey James, Arts Consulting Tel. 516 586-3433

Internet and web-based activities:
Mike Barry, Princeton Creative Tel. 609 454-3923

New Music USA: Frank Oteri, New Music Box/ New Music USA Tel. 212 645-6949

Lower East Side Performing Arts:  tax-deductible contributions to the Elodie Lauten Music Fund Carolyn Ratcliff, President  Tel. 347 458-8940

Elodie Lauten Music Trust
Kenneth Hamrick, Executor Tel. 212 300-3058