Immersion is required! Introducing Luara Karlson-Carp

Luara Kupka's Piano is proud to introduce Luara Karlson-Carp in our upcoming concert, "The American Dream-Song: New Music in the USA" - on next Friday, 29 November, 7.30pm, at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Art - where she will be performing the Australian premiere of a work by young American composer Kate Soper, as well as a great work by Downtown New York giant, Morton Feldman.

Our violinist, Alethea Coombe, took some time to chat to Luara and find out about her, her music and her connection to the States.

Alethea Coombe: Tell us a little about yourself - Where were you born? Where did you study? What were your early influences? All those things that led you to where you are today!

Luara Karlson-Carp: I was born in Montana, USA and lived there till I was four years old, in a tiny town right next to Yellowstone National Park. It was a pretty wild place, bears and cowboys and the like. I then moved to Bellingen NSW and that's where I stayed till I began a Bachelor of Music in jazz voice at the Queensland Conservatorium, from which I'm graduating this semester. Whilst in Bellingen I attended a Steiner School, which was very alternative and arts-based, and lived with a painter/potter for quite a while and I see both of these "creative" experiences as having a big affect on my values and musical/artistic influences today.

AC: How about now? What's an average day in the life of Luara?

LKC: I've just been struck down with a 24 hour bug so most recently it has included sleeping, reading A Room Of One's Own by Virginia Woolf, pumpkin soup and guilt-free internet perusal time....

AC: You recently studied in America - Please tell us a bit more about it! What did you expect, and what was surprising for you? What led you there in the first place?

LKC: I went over on a semester of exchange/study abroad. When I decided to apply, the real impetus for going was a well needed break from my environment and a chance to reflect and chase inspiration. I knew I wanted to be close to NYC, so I looked at the list of exchange partner universities, found the only one in New York state, pointed to it and said "that one". That was the extent of the expectation! I was incredibly lucky and landed in a strong community of positive, creative young musicians in the best town ever(!) and had an incredible time. Together with some friends a band focusing on free and concept-based improvisation was formed and we undertook a six-week, grass-roots, 6000 mile tour of the states, which was a pretty eye opening and pivotal experience. I also did a great workshop in New York City. I was surprised at the openness and positivity of the music scene there, and also shocked by the political situation and who really seems to be pulling the strings.

AC: Of course our aim in this concert is to present some of the music coming from the States that we find exciting and poke a little into what the scene is like there. You've experienced it first hand, though! What music and musical scenes did you discover while you were there?

LKC: The underground improvised/experimental scene was one I got some decent exposure to as we did almost 25 gigs in 25 different places on tour. Due to the economy, culture and licensing, paid gigs in venues are really hard to come by, but the underground scene is thriving. The fantastical existence of basements in nearly every US home provides pretty adequate sound-proofing, so people will set up their houses as music venues, naming them and giving them their own Facebook pages with weekly or bi-weekly events. It's fantastic as it provides a hub for local, self-determined musical communities. I think that's a lot harder to pull off in the rather more flimsy raised wooden suburban Queenslanders we have here!

AC: Tell us a little more about one of the pieces you're performing with us, Kate Soper's "Only the Words Themselves Mean What They Say".

LKC: For me this piece is really exciting for many reasons, the first being that it's actually the first piece of music I can remember performing composed by a women, and secondly it's definitely the only piece I've composed by a soprano! That's really inspiring - it can be easy to feel like your only options as a female singer are to sound pretty and, if you please, look pretty too. I also think the way the piece plays on and relates to the text is creatively brilliant, and how the movements sit together is highly surprising and satisfying. This will be my first contemporary classical concert ever, so I've been very lucky to have Hannah's patience, passion and experience at hand for the learning process. We performed the first movement recently and I was surprised at the emotional force of the piece when it's put in front of an audience - there's a lot of intense rationalisation of highly emotional content in the text, and that, combined with Soper's musical treatment of it, creates what felt to be a rather unruly beast to pace and perform, but so exhilarating! I'm very excited about the performance, I think everyone will find it to be a very powerful yet playful experience.

AC: It sounds like there's a lot of music that excites you. What are you listening to at the moment?

LKC: Morton Feldman; this is my first contemporary classical gig, immersion is required!

AC: What's in store for you in the next few years? What would you like to be doing? What do you see coming in your future?

LKC: My current plan is to move to Melbourne and enrol in a BA. I feel my creative-world needs some intellectual-world support to feel meaningful and stay relevant to what's important to me. I'm really looking forward to getting involved in the scene down there and want to continue exploring contemporary classical music, as well as improvised/experimental music and eventually sound based installation works.

AC: Thanks very much!

Luara will be performing with Kupka's Piano on the 29th of November at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts for the fourth and final concert of our 2013 series. Get tickets here!