Gwen Laster, Strings Improvisers Orchestra – Beacon
GWEN LASTER is a native Detroiter whose creative influences come from the Motor City’s burnin’ urban and classical music culture. After earning a Bachelor and Master degree from U of Michigan School of Music, Gwen moved to NYC by the skin of her teeth. She’s since played with nationally, internationally musicians like Anthony Braxton, Nona Hendryx, James Jabbo Ware, Aretha Franklin, Alicia Keyes and Natalie Cole. Gwen’s high school teacher encouraged her to pursue her voice and original projects that won her major performance, composition and teaching grants from the NEA, ASCAP, Lila Wallace, and a first place, $10,000 award from the Cognac Hennessey Jazz.
A champion of intuitive education, Gwen is the visionary founder of the Creative Improvisers Orchestra (CIO) the first non-traditional music education program at Interlochen Summer Institute, the Sphinx Performance and Preparatory Academy, and the Eastman School of Music. CIO expands ways to reach and teach young musicians with the greatest needs and the fewest resources.
Right now, Gwen is working with the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra, Go: Organic Orchestra, as she leads New Muse 4tet. She’s a teaching artist with the Orchestra of St. Lukes, an El Sistema-inspired program in Hell’s Kitchen NYC. She continues CIO workshops in schools, camps and colleges. Gwen’s music and books are available at CD Baby, iTunes and other digital media sources. Her discography as a leader includes Sneak Preview and I Hear You Smiling, which was chosen for airplay in the Adult Contemporary market. Her next recording, Gameboard, will be ready for release in 2016.
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