newmuseumNew Museum, 9/11/09

pirouPerforming on synth at the Castle of Pirou, France - 2001
Photo: Christian Ducasse

studioIn the studio with Arthur's Landing, 2010
Photo: Anjali


santosat Santos with Peter Gordon, 2010 (Village Voice)






My music evolved from a performance-based practice. In the early 80s I performed solo on a piano or electronic keyboard, with a multilayered soundtrack I created. This was the performance situation for Piano Works, Concerto for Piano and Orchestral Memory, and Tronik Involutions, which is an electronic set of works based on a tuning relationship with the earth tone for the year cycle.

I also performed with Arthur Russell, Peter Zummo and Mustafa Ahmed as the Singing Tractors, and in many of Arthur Russell's venues, as he often performed in mine, and some of Peter Zummo's pieces as well.

However, this is kind of an exception to my own rule of exclusively performing my own work. I feel that since my own improvisation is often the engine of the music, working on other people's material would somehow sidetrack me. For instance, my father Errol Parker who was a great jazz improviser on the piano, told me that he felt he had to quit a gig he had with a dance group, as he felt their requirements were bearing down on his own style. This is why we both avoided "lounge music" situations that are known to be style-killers.

The exception with Arthur Russell's music is that our music merged together in a very natural way, and this is why I find myself again performing the music of Arthur Russell with Arthur's Landing, and contributed to the recent release on Strut.

I often perform in my own operas - Existence, on piano, Waking in New York, on the synthesizer, in The Two-Cents opera on piano, in The Death of Don Juan on harpsichord, Trine (a lyre of my design) and synthesizer.

When I moved into the realm of chamber and orchestral music in the 90s, I did not perform as often... and evolved to having ensembles and orchestras perform my music, but at some point I began to miss the performing experience and once again wrote compositions that I would perform, either alone or with other musicians, such as the microtonal XX and Harmonic Protection Circle, and various piano pieces including a set of Tangos.

Performing is an exhilarating experience, and an enhancement to composition - and I would not be happy just being a composer behind a desk or a computer.

When I first started I was singing, and with Arthur Russell, who really liked my voice and encourated me to sing more. But around the mid-80s, due to respiratory problems, allergies and constant colds and flus, I really couldn't keep up with the singing. So I kind of stopped practising voice, after I spent two years at NYU studying Indian music vocal practice with Arkhmal Parwez, and before that with Pandit Pran Nath, LaMonte Young and Marian Zazeela. I still sang, occasionally but mostly I focused on keyboard practice and writing vocals for other singers to perform, which made me fulfilled.

Once again, with Arthur's Landing, I am involved in singing occasionally, as Steven Hall, like Arthur, encourages me to sing more.

Elodie Lauten