Columbus Makes Art Features Composer Lauren Spavelko

Lauren Spavelko is a composer, studio teacher, performer and visual artist. Lauren composes and performs with many organizations in Greater Columbus including the Central Ohio Symphony, Opera Columbus, Hixon Dance and New Music at the Short North Stage. She also serves on the board of the Central Ohio Hot Jazz Society (COHJS) and Converging Arts Columbus (CAC).

Bruce: Why are you composing?
Lauren: I am endlessly fascinated by people and storytelling. I’m that person who can talk to almost anyone. Leave me alone for ten minutes, and by the time you get back, I’ll have made a friend. My desire to connect inspires some of my most powerful and memorable work, and my music reflects how I engage with the rest of the world. I am here to meet you. Hold up a mirror and show yourself something you’ve never seen this way before. Receive and channel your stories so others can hear them as I do. To make you feel seen and remind you that you are not alone. And to remind you that life is as much about being enjoyed as it is about surviving.

Lauren Spavelko

Bruce: What do you think is your most important job?
Lauren: I think my most important job is baby book, a cycle of songs about miscarriage, pregnancy and motherhood. It is a work that I conceived as “by women, for women and about women”. I wrote the music based on poems from the autobiographical memoirs of Chloe Yelena Miller Viable. I think her success has a lot to do with the deeply personal subject matter and our collective need to share and support women through these experiences. Chloe and I have created sensitive and evocative work that often elicits strong emotional responses from our listeners. I’m continuously amazed and inspired by the performances and projects these songs have taken part in across the country, in Italy and in Singapore.

Bruce: What do you think is your most unusual job?
Lauren: Probably Hot air balloon interludes! This piece is a silly and fun vocal improvisation with balloons that I created in Los Angeles with the NEO Voice Festival. The room ends up being filled with balloons and crazy sounds. The musical “score” is more like a children’s book or a screenplay, and the performance is a combination of music, drama, and joke. Personally, I’d love to have this done by middle school kids – I think they’d be even better than adults!

Bruce: How did you get involved with the Central Ohio Hot Jazz Society?
Lauren: I am a swing dancer! I’ve been a ballroom dancer since 2014. It was my favorite thing to do when I was studying music composition at the University of Louisville, and I joined Swing Columbus when I got back. We like to dance to live music at the monthly COHJS jam sessions, and we also have a few professional and amateur musicians among the swing dancers. I love that hot jazz is so social and everyone can join in! As a classically trained musician, I especially enjoyed exploring jazz violin, improvising and learning standards. My favorite songs are “Five Foot Two” and “Bei Mir Bist Du Schön”, and my favorite song is “St. Infirmary James. I also loved conducting our free “Intro to Hot Jazz Jams” with the bandleader of the Whirlybirds, Joe Brenneman.

representation of balloon interludes
Performance of ball interludes.

Bruce: What do you like about the Columbus art scene?
Lauren: Columbus is cool, and I’m always proud to brag about my hometown arts when I travel! I love the diversity and collaboration between our arts organizations and the way we invest in our local artists. As a young classical musician, I had the mistaken impression that classical concert music was no longer being created, but it is a living, breathing art form. We have amazing songwriters living right here in the city! We also have performers, producers and patrons who prioritize showcasing our local talent and creating exciting new concerts and productions. I also love how I can enjoy so many styles of music in the city. There is something for every taste !

Bruce: Where can we hear your music playing in Columbus soon?
Lauren: I’ve been involved in several collaborations during the pandemic, and look forward to sharing pieces for voice, violin, orchestra, and mixed chamber ensemble this season. Many of these shows also include music from other local composers. Some are larger productions with visual arts and dance. These include A heartbreaking world, presented by Hixon Dance, March 25-27, 2022; An Afternoon with Converging Arts Columbus in March 2022; Astronomer’s dream, presented by Converging Arts Columbus on May 6, 2022; and score for fourpresented by the Johnstone Fund for New Music next spring.

To learn more about Laurent, visit www.LaurenSpavelko.com. For more information about the Central Ohio Hot Jazz Society, go to www.cohjs.org. Catch it Central Ohio Hot Jazz Jam and Dance the second Wednesday of each month at The Rambling House.

Columbus Makes Art Gifts is a bi-weekly column presented by the Greater Columbus Arts Council – supporting and advancing the artistic and cultural fabric of Columbus. The column is a project of the Art Makes Columbus campaign, telling the inspiring stories of the people and organizations that create Columbus art. Learn about local artists, organizations, public art and events at ColumbusMakesArt.com.

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