Laura Anne Karpman (born March 1, 1959) is an American composer, whose work has included music for film, television, video games, theater, and the concert hall. She has won four Emmy Awards for her work. Karpman was trained at The Juilliard School, where she played jazz, and honed her skills scatting in bars.
Born in Los Angeles, Karpman worked with John Harbison at the Tanglewood Music Center, and attended Aspen Music School and the Ecole des Arts Americaines, where she worked with Nadia Boulanger. She received her Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Michigan, where she graduated magna cum laude, studying with William Bolcom and Leslie Bassett. She received both her Doctorate and master's degree in Music Composition at The Juilliard School, where her principal teacher was Milton Babbitt.
Compositions by Karpman have been commissioned by Tonya Pinkins, Los Angeles Opera, American Composers Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, The Juilliard Choral Union, Pacific Serenades, and percussionist Evelyn Glennie. They have been performed internationally.
Karpman's theater catalog includes three musicals for Los Angeles's "A Noise Within" theater company, as well as underscores for dozens of classic plays. Among her media music credits are Steven Spielberg's Emmy-winning, 20-hour TV miniseries, Taken; and PBS's series The Living Edens (for which she received nine Emmy nominations). She has scored numerous films, television programs and video games (including music for Halo 3 and her award-winning score for Everquest II). Karpman received an Annie Award nomination for A Monkey's Tale, a short film commissioned by the Chinese government, which later premiered in the US and was performed by the Detroit Symphony.
Karpman's Grammy-winning Ask Your Mama premiered at Carnegie Hall on March 16, 2009, with performances by Jessye Norman, Cassandra Wilson, The Roots, and the Orchestra of St. Luke's conducted by George Manahan. With Langston Hughes's epic poem for a libretto, Karpman's work exhibited an eclectic musical mix. Using Hughes' own voice at the core of the work, this musical includes passages from Louis Armstrong, Big Maybelle, Pigmeat Markham and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, integrated with projected images by Rico Gatson and additional archival video, as well as Hughes's own poetry. Annie Dorsen directed it. ASK YOUR MAMA was released by Avie Records in July 2016.
In 2016, Karpman became the first woman elected to the music branch of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Board of Governors.
Awards and nominations
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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
- 2015 Membership Induction
- 2007 nomination, "Best Music in an Animated Feature Production" for A Monkey's Tale
BMI Film & TV Awards
- 2003 won, "BMI Cable Mini-Series Award" for Taken
The Charles Ives Award, American Academy of Arts and Letters
- 1984 won
Primetime Emmy Awards
- 2008 nomination, "Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (Original Dramatic Score)" for Masters of Science Fiction episode "Jerry Was a Man".
- 2003 nomination, "Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Dramatic Underscore)" for Odyssey 5 pilot episode.
- 2020 won, "Outstanding Music Composition for a Documentary Series or Special (Original Dramatic Score)" for Why We Hate episode "Tools & Tactics".
- 2020 nomination, "Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music" for Why We Hate.
- 2004 won, "Best Arrangement of a Non-Original Score" for Everquest II
- 2004 nomination, "Best Music of the Year" for Everquest II
News & Documentary Emmy Awards
- 2008 nomination, "Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Music and Sound" for Craft in America
- 2003 nomination, "Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Music and Sound" for The Living Edens for "Big Sur: California's Wild Coast". Nomination shared with Nancy Severinsen, Clifford Hoelscher, Mark Linden, and Tara Paul.
- 2001 nomination, "Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft - Music" for The Living Edens episode "Kamchatka: Siberia's Forbidden Wilderness".
- 2000 nominations, "Outstanding Achievement in a Craft in News and Documentary Programming - Music"
- for The Living Edens episode "Costa Rica: Land of Pure Life"
- for The Living Edens episode "Palau: Paradise of the Pacific"
- 1999 won, "Outstanding Achievement in a Craft in News and Documentary Programming - Music" for The Living Edens episode "Madagascar: A World Apart".
- 1998 won "Outstanding Achievement in a Craft in News and Documentary Programming - Music" for The Living Edens episodes "Denali: Alaska's Great Wilderness", "Manu: Peru's Hidden Rain Forest", "Patagonia: Life at the End of the Earth".
- "Premieres – Pacific Serenades".
- Burlingame, Jon (2019-03-03). "Starr Parodi Named President of the Alliance for Women Film Composers". Variety. Retrieved 2019-03-10.
- Greiving, Tim (2019-01-10). "Female Composers Are Trying to Break Film's Sound Barrier". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-03-10.
- "Academy Elects Steven Spielberg, Laura Dern to Board of Governors". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2017-07-03.
- Garrett, Diane (2020-10-28). "Variety's L.A. Women's Impact Report 2020". Variety. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
- Womack, Carolyn (2019-08-21). "History forgot these female composers. An L.A. music writer is helping us remember". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
- Vivien Lejeune, "Laura Karpman Taken by Steven Spielberg", Cinefonia, No. 2, November 2003.
- Jeff Bond, “Taken With Her Music,” Film Score Monthly, July 2003.
- Jon Burlingame, "Women in Showbiz: TV, Film Composer Not Confined to Any One Medium", Daily Variety, November 14, 2001.
- Jon Burlingame, "Women in Showbiz: Composers Curry Kudos", Daily Variety, November 8, 1999.
- "Fast Track—Composers Worth Listening to: Laura Karpman", The Hollywood Reporter, January 26, 1998.
- Michael Kamensky, "Spotlight: Laura Karpman", The Hollywood Reporter, January 26, 1995.
- Fred Karlin, On The Track: A Guide to Contemporary Film Scoring, 2nd edn, Routledge, 2004.
- "Composer Laura Karpman Receives 4 Emmy Nominations", Pro Sound News, 1998.
- Rudy Kopl, “Taken With Her Music,” Film Score Monthly, June 1997.
- Jennifer Seidel, "Keeping Score", Electronic Musician, November 1995.
- Curt Schleier, "Composer Can’t Help but Make Her Music Sound Jewish", The Jewish Transcript, June 25, 1999.
- Curt Schleier, "East of Eden", The Jewish Week, April 23, 1999.
- "Laura Karpman", The Advocate, May 2, 1995.
- K. Robert Schwartz, "A Woman of Independent Themes", Out Magazine, November 1995.
- David G. Taylor, "Duet for the Emmys", The Advocate, September 30, 2003.
By Laura Karpman:
- "An Interview with Milton Babbitt", Perspectives of New Music, v. 24 n. 213, Spring-Summer 1986.
- Laura Karpman Official Website
- Laura Karpman on IMDb
- Ask Your Mama
- UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television: Laura Karpman
- Laura Karpman on IMDb