Lauren has been immersed in the classical music scene here since moving to Lafayette from New Orleans in 1981. While living in New Orleans, she played with various professional organizations including the New Orleans Symphony under the baton of Maxim Shostakovich, the New Orleans/Cincinnati Ballet, the New Orleans Opera, Tulane Summer Lyric Theatre, and the Saenger Theatre. During this time, she played in back-up and pit orchestras for many celebrities including Richard Burton, Tony Bennett, Rex Harrison, Shirley Jones, Doc Severinsen, Wayne Newton, Suzanne Summers, George Benson, Diahann Carroll, etc.
Since 1988, Lauren has been concertmaster of the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra and has held that same position with Chorale Acadienne for nearly as long. Besides performing, her other passion is teaching and she has maintained a Suzuki violin studio in Lafayette since 1986. Her more serious students have been accepted to some of the country’s leading summer programs and conservatories. For 10 years, she was the founder and director of the Acadiana Suzuki Strings Institute, an intense four-day camp for string students taught by clinicians from all across the country. She has also enjoyed being on the faculties of the Ithaca Suzuki Institute in NY; the Intermountain Suzuki Strings Institute in Salt Lake City, UT; the Hartt Suzuki Institute in Hartford, CT.; and the Northern California Suzuki Institute in Santa Rosa, CA
As well as teaching and performing, Lauren is co-owner of Vermilion Strings (vermilionstrings.net), a sought-after music contracting business for weddings, church services, special events, etc.
Who makes up your art circle?
So many! It’s quite expansive. From the ASO musicians, the ASO Board and ED (the amazing Dana Baker…our “pretend” daughter), and our Maestro-Extraordinaire, Mariusz Smolij, to collaborative musicians, to my students and their families, to our Vermilion Strings clients, and most especially – my husband, Paul Baker.
How do you expand your art circle?
One way is by performances with musicians I’ve not played with before and another is playing for different audiences…and… on the rare occasion that I accept a new student, I have yet another extended family – adding richness to my life.
What value do you see in having a creative community?
Generally, creativity opens the mind, broadens perspective, and can help overcome prejudice in many forms. Without it, there would be a lot more close-minded people. The personal value is having a support system of those who understand the life and challenges of a musician, both as a performer and as a teacher. As a performer, playing with experienced professional musicians is rewarding, and we are always learning from each other. Without the community of musicians here, there would be little to no opportunity to play/perform so many of the great works written for ensembles.
How does your artistic approach contribute to your community?
The obvious answer is that performing and teaching help keep classical music alive, and I do a lot of both! When I first moved to Lafayette, there was little place for a classical violinist to expand other than playing in the local volunteer orchestra. Through the years of hard work and determination by many dedicated people, the orchestra – now Acadiana Symphony Orchestra & Conservatory of Music – has risen to a professional level. With the help of some dear colleagues, another facet of our creative community is that we have grown the event business into a demanding one, allowing for many more opportunities for many more musicians.
Our weekly Art Circle series profiles artists throughout the community and is sponsored in part by Lafayette Visitor Enterprise Fund managed by Lafayette Travel