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Laura Karpman at Juilliard



A composer who brings to her music feverish imagination, impeccable musicianship, complexity, versatility, unbridled joy, and fearlessness, Laura Karpman’s music is, in the words of George Manahan, music director of New York City Opera, "a rare combination of heart and groin." With her rigorous musical approach, coupled with conceptual and progressive uses of technology and recording, Karpman is a true 21st century American composer. She is one of a handful of female composers with an active career in film and television, winning four Emmys and receiving an additional seven nominations, an Annie Award nomination, and a GANG award and nomination for her video game music. She was named one of the most important women in Hollywood by VARIETY MAGAZINE, and is a professor at UCLA in the School of Theater, Film, and Television.


A native of Los Angeles, Laura began composing music at seven years old and continued her studies at Phillips Academy at Andover and the National Music Camp, Interlochen, Michigan. Her lifelong obsession with jazz began early on as well, when, at age 11 she started memorizing Ella Fitzgerald’s scat solos. 

Later she started playing and singing in high school bands, sneaking into clubs with a fake I.D. to hear great players like Anthony Braxton, Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald, Ahmad Jamal, and Betty Carter, among others.

Karpman attended the University of Michigan School of Music, studying composition with William Bolcom and Leslie Bassett, and spent a life-changing summer studying with the legendary Nadia Boulanger at Fontainebleau. She then went on to Juilliard, where she received her Master’s and Doctoral degrees as a student of Milton Babbitt, composing and studying the complexities of concert music by day, while playing jazz and scat singing in Manhattan clubs by night.



Laura Karpman's earlier performances



Laura Karpman and Milton Babbitt  

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Laura Karpman at American Academy of Arts and Letters

Karpman subsequently received kudos in concert music with awards including the Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 2 ASCAP Foundation grants, multiple Meet the Composer grants, and residencies at Aspen, Tanglewood and The MacDowell Colony. Laura credits a fellowship to the Sundance Institute’s Composer’s Lab as a pivotal moment in her life. For the first time, she saw computers and music work together and was utterly enthralled with this then new technology. She relocated back to Los Angeles from New York, attended the ASCAP Film Scoring workshop, and soon after began working steadily in the commercial world.





Karpman has scored over 30 projects for every major network, including the acclaimed DOING TIME ON MAPLE DRIVE directed by Ken Olin for Fox, DASH AND LILLY directed by Kathy Bates for A&E, and the highly rated SINS OF THE MOTHER, starring Jill Scott for Lifetime. She also composed music for NBC’s hit miniseries A WOMAN OF INDEPENDENT MEANS, starring Sally Field, creating American music including rags, and jazz from the 20’s 30’s and 40’s. Karpman scored the series WIOU for CBS and the procedural drama INJUSTICE for Robert and Michelle King on ABC.


Karpman created a unique soundscape for Showtime’s acclaimed science fiction series, ODYSSEY 5 starring Peter Weller. This Emmy-nominated highly unusual score, featuring 12 cellos, duduk and countertenor, caught the attention of Steven Spielberg, who invited her to create an epic orchestral score for his 20-hour miniseries, TAKEN. She seamlessly intertwined traditional Americana with evocative modernist strains is this sprawling, adventurous sci-fi score.




Laura has also collaborated with directors Michael Tolkin, Michael Petroni and Darnell Martin on the limited series MASTERS OF SCIENCE FICTION for ABC, for which she received an Emmy nomination for her quirky score to JERRY WAS A MAN. She most recently created a massive suspense soundtrack for LAST MAN STANDING, Lifetime's first action movie, produced by Gale Ann Hurd and directed by Ernest Dickerson.


Laura’s imaginative scores for numerous independent films include THE BREAK UP starring Bridget Fonda and Keifer Sutherland for Miramax featuring master oud player John Bilezikian, MAN IN THE CHAIR starring Christopher Plummer and Michael Angarano, THE ANNIHILATION OF FISH starring Lynn Redgrave and James Earl Jones for acclaimed director Charles Burnett, and most recently, the hybrid orchestral score for THE TOURNAMENT for The Weinstein Company. She received a feature Annie nomination for her score A MONKEY’S TALE, combining Chinese instruments and traditional cartoon scoring, and has enjoyed creating vibrant scores for SANDLOT 2 and ACE VENTURA: PET DETECTIVE, JR., directed by David Mickey Evans.


Karpman has composed dozens of game titles, including the large orchestral scores for Sony’s EVERQUEST 2 and many of its updates. She created an epic choral sound and set a Middle Scots war text for the PS3 launch title and PSP versions of UNTOLD LEGENDS: DARK KINGDOM. Laura most recently worked on Kinect Disneyland Adventures, Warner Brothers Guardians of Middle Earth, a Chinese action score for KUNG FU PANDA 2 for DreamWorks/THQ, and has contributed additional music to Clive Barker’s JERICHO and HALO 3. She was included in the original production of Video Games Live and received a GANG award for her work on 



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untoldthinkingLaura Karpman working on Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom

EVERQUEST 2. This music has also been featured by The National Symphony at The Kennedy Center, and performed throughout Europe.

She conducted Games in Concert 2, Metropole Orchestra and PA’dam Choir, Music Centre Vredenburg, in Utrecht, The Netherlands, in 2007. She has also contributed to PLAY FOR JAPAN, a collection of tracks from top videogame composers for the Japanese tsunami relief effort. In 2011 she will be a guest professor at Berklee’s Videogame Sound and Music Seminar. docsKarpman has a passion for documentary film, and has won four Emmy's and been nominated for an additional five for her work in this genre. Laura credits THE LIVING EDENS, the long running nature series on PBS, for helping to shape her creative voice. To create a sound for the last unspoiled places on earth, Laura melded world music with jazz and

traditional Western scoring and started sampling from her collection of over 200 instruments from across the globe.



emmyKarpman with Emmy Awards

Karpman has scored dozens of documentaries, including Regarding Susan Sontag for HBO, and three seasons of the Peabody award-winning PBS series, CRAFT IN AMERICA, where her re-contextualizing of classic American tunes earned her another Emmy nomination.  For directors Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine she wrote the music for THE GALAPAGOS AFFAIR, which premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and is being showcased at the Berlin Film Festival, as well as A Cool Jazz score, featuring the Turtle Island String Quartet, for Geller and Goldfine's feature documentary SOMETHING VENTURED, which premiered in 2011 at South By Southwest.  Karpman has served as an advisor to the Sundance Institute Documentary Lab.             politicaladssKarpman has helped shape dozens of winning political campaigns, having written music for candidates Diane Feinstein, Charles Schumer, Lois Capps, and many others. She also scored a third of the campaigns for the DCCC in 2000.


Hailed by Vanity Fair as “super-lush…always impressive,” Karpman’s epic multimedia work ASK YOUR MAMA was  

askyourmamacarnegieJessye Norman, Laura Karpman, George Manahan

commissioned by Carnegie Hall. At its sold-out World Premiere there, The New York Times reported that the audience “thundered its approval,” and raved that the ground-breaking music, “melding Ivesian collage with club-culture remixing, morphed from one vivid section to the next in a dreamlike flow.” ASK YOUR MAMA, based on an iconic cycle of poems by Langston Hughes, was written for Jessye Norman, The Roots, Nnenna Freelon, d’Adre Aziza, and large orchestra, conducted by George Manahan. The work received its West Coast Premiere at the Hollywood Bowl, returned to New York’s Apollo Theater in 2013, and is to be released in 2014 on CD. Karpman’s concert music has been commissioned and performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cabrillo Festival Orchestra (with Marin Alsop), Concordia, the American Composers’ Orchestra, Metropole Orkest, Northwest Sinfonia, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and the Detroit, Houston, National, New York Youth, Richmond, and El Paso Symphonies.

Recent and upcoming commissions include the evening-length THE HIDDEN WORLD OF GIRLS, in collaboration with NPR’s the Kitchen Sisters and visual artists Obscura Digital, for which she also served as creative director, for the Cabrillo Festival; ONE TEN PROJECT for the Los Angeles Opera, celebrating both the 70th anniversary of the dedication of the freeway and the 25th anniversary of the Los Angeles Opera; DIFFERENT LANES for string quartet and


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Laura Karpman at the helm

two iPads for Pacific Serenades;  THE TRANSITIVE PROPERTY OF EQUALITY for orchestra and electronics, conducted by Marin Alsop with the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, commissioned by Red Bull; new works for Laura Klugherz (viola) and Roberto Limón (guitar); NOW ALL SET, a memorial tribute to her teacher Milton Babbitt, for Perspectives of New Music. She is also developing multimedia works for clarinetist David Krakauer, violinist Tim Fain, and a new opera with New York Times columnist Gail Collins.




Laura is an active composer for the theater. She has created underscore and songs for A Noise Within in Los Angeles, The Georgia Shakespeare Festival, The Old Globe Theater, and Los Angeles Theater Works, among others. She will be scoring a new production of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD for Denver Center Theater Company in 2011. She takes great pride in A WILDE HOLIDAY, her original musical theater production of Oscar Wilde's Fairy Tales which ran to critical acclaim for three seasons at A Noise Within, and her work with Tony award-winning singer/actress Tonya Pinkins, for whom she created arrangements for Jazz at Lincoln Center and Stephen Sondheim's 75th Birthday Celebration.


Karpman is a professor at UCLA in the School of Theater, Film, and Television, where she teaches about film music, mentoring the collaboration between filmmaker and composer, and about interdisciplinary multimedia performance. Karpman has lectured at The Juilliard School, USC, UCLA, Mills College, Berklee College of Music, and The Tides Momentum Leadership Conference, and is a fellow of The Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities. She had served on the boards of the American Music Center, the Society of Composers and Lyricists and currently is on the Artist's Council for New Music USA.







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