Altman engages with Lawrence musicians

Nicholas Paulson

Composer Laurie Altman, a New York native living in Switzerland, was a composer-in-residence at Lawrence from April 10 to 17. Altman, who has performed in London, Mexico City, Holland, Scandinavia and throughout the United States, was at Lawrence under the umbrella of a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship. Altman’s involvement on campus was evident throughout the week in multiple performances and demonstrations of his work.

The composer and pianist, who has written more than 100 jazz pieces in addition to chamber, vocal, piano, opera, and choral works as well as film scores, has been recognized with two National Endowment Fellowships: a Lincoln Center Felt Forum Award, and the Mason Gross Composition Prize.

Altman’s residency began April 10 with a guest recital in Harper Hall. He performed both solo piano compositions and jazz standards with Professor of Music and percussionist Dane Richeson, and Associate Professor of Music and Teacher of String Bass Mark Urness.

Altman participated with both students and faculty in the weekly Jazz Jam Session April 11 held in the Warch Campus Center Café, performing jazz standards and his own arrangements.

The composition studio held a master class with Altman April 12. April 14 was marked by both a jazz composing and arranging workshop and a short concert of works for small ensembles, performed by an ensemble of Lawrence students and faculty titled “Chamber Music of Laurie Altman.”

Frank C. Shattuck Professor of Music and Teacher of Voice Ken Bozeman, who helped sophomore Luke Randall prepare his performance of Altman’s “On Course,” said of the work, “It was an interesting, effective piece with some underlying jazz rhythms, fun, though challenging to prepare.”

This week of engagement with the Lawrence musical community culminated Friday, April 15 in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel with the world premiere of “The River Merchant’s Wife: A Letter” performed by the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra and Cantala with soloist and Professor of Music Patrice Michaels during the combined orchestra and choirs concert.