Gwen's upbringing in Detroit's Urban and Classical music scene was inspired by her mother's love for blues, jazz, the Motown sound and motivated through her high school orchestra teacher Anderson White. Andy blurred the lines between orchestral, chamber and jazz repertoire using amplified string instruments in orchestra . His raw approach to teaching improvisation was to shout "Stand up, Take a Solo" on string arrangements of Dr. David Baker.
After earning her BM and MM from the University of Michigan School of Music, Gwen relocated to New York City. She emerged herself in recording, touring, playing broadway shows, jazz clubs,traditional and non traditional chamber ensembles and teaching improvisation to string players.
She has released two recordings "Sneak Preview"(EP) and "I Hear You Smiling" of original music. Her next recording
"Gameboard" will be released in 2014. Compositions from "Gameboard" are inspired by interest in Eastern Philosophy and her curiosity in music out of Africa and India. Gwen has won awards from the NEA, ASCAP, Lila Wallace Endowment and Cognac Henessey Jazz Search (1st place).
Gwen's collaborations with popular, global and avant garde artists give her an interesting and diverse set of skills and musical sense abilities. These artists include Alicia Keys, Rhianna;
Beres Hammond,saxophonist Joe Giardullo, Angie Stone, Shaggy, Aretha Franklin, Joss Stone, Haitian vocalist Emeline Michel, Anthony Braxton and Leroy Jenkins. Her chamber and orchestral work includes Sphinx Symphony Orchestra, Harlem Symphony Orchestra, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Go Organic Orchestra and Quartette Indigo. She has toured Japan, Cuba, Haiti, Barbados, Anguilla, Jamiaca, Canada, the Dominican Republic and the U.S.
As an educator, Gwen is the founder and artistic director of the Creative Strings Global Music Workshop. This workshop develops the trained string players' improvisation and composition skills. Creative Strings has been presented at Eastman School of Music and was the first non traditional workshop to be welcomed by the Interlochen Summer Arts Camp and the Sphinx Preparatory Academy. Gwen has also authored a violin method book "Music for the Creative String Player",based on concepts from her workshops. Tracks from her book can be heard here http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/gwenlaster and her original music can be heard at CD Baby, iTunes and other digital media.
Gwen Laster Violinist, Composer, Educator
University of Michigan School of Music (BM,MM)
Music Education, Violin Performance.
Dr. Billy Taylor
Adam Rudolph "Go Organic"
Alicia Keys "Fallin"
Alicia Keys "Diary"
Alicia Keys "Unplugged"
Angie Stone – "Bottles and Cans"
Anthony Braxton – "Ghost Trance", "Shala"
Clint Eastwood – "Eastwood After Hours"
Emeline Michel – "Le Perternel"
Go Organic - "Sonic Mandela"
Gwen Laster – "I Hear You Smiling"
Gwen Laster – "Sneak Preview"
Hubert Laws- "Plays Bach"
Jay-Z – "You Must Love Me"
Joe Giardullo "Pearl Road"
Joss Stone "Introducing Joss
Luther Vandross-"So Amazing Tribute"
Shaggy - "Strength of a Woman", "It Wasn’t Me"
Ty Stephens – "All Kinds of Love"
Broadway Shows/ Television/ Orchestral/Chamber Ensemble
Alicia Keys, MTV-Unplugged
Anthony Braxton Ninetet Ensemble
Beauty and the Beast/Broadway
Brian McKnight Showtime at the Apollo
Catskill Mountain Chamber Orchestra.
Deborah Cox, MTV.
Eastwood After Hours, Carnegie Hall, PBS, NBC.
Erykah Badu, MTV Unplugged .
Esopus Chamber Ensemble, Woodstock NY
Harlem Symphony Orchestra.
Jennifer Holiday MusiCares/Carnegie
Lake George Opera Festival.
Leroy Jenkins, "The Three Willies", The Kitchen NYC
Miss Saigon /Broadway
Obama Inaugural/Neighborhood Ball w/Shakira
Porgy and Bess/Broadway
Rhianna, The Today Show, The View, Barbados Music Awards.
West End Symphony
Creative Strings Summer Workshop on the Hudson
Eastman School of Music/Performance, Creative Strings Workshop
Harlem School of the Arts-Director of Jazz Strings
IAJE-Chicago/Creative Strings Workshop
Interlochen F.A. Camp /Creative Strings Workshop
Institute of Cultural Arts- Dominican Republic/Creative Strings Workshop
La Guardia Community College/Strings Clinic
Medgar Evers College/Performance, Master Class
Music Outreach/Performance, Workshop NYC
Music of the Heart, Miramax Films. Teaching Assistant
NAMN Convention/Performance, Master Class
Poughkeepsie Day School/Creative Strings
Sphinx Music Prep/Creative Strings Workshop
St.Ann's School/Creative Strings Workshop
Somers School District/Creative Strings Workshop
African Street Festival/New York
Beres Hammond/Madison Square Garden, New Jersey Theater, Kingston Jamaica
Bill Clinton Foundation "Investing in Haiti". Petionville Haiti
Chicago World Music Festival
Global Arts Festival/New York
Harlem Arts Festival
Havana International Jazz Festival
Ibero American Cultural Festival/Japan
Institute of Cultural Arts/ Dominican Republic
Montreux Detroit Festival
Alva Anderson, Jazz vocalist/violist. Chapel Restoration, Cold Spring, NY
Chapel Benefit Concert featuring Motherlode, Conversations in Taal, David Rothenberg. Chapel Restoration, Cold Spring, NY
Igbo, Adam Rudolph and Joe Bowie. Chapel Restoration, Cold Spring, NY
Nioka Workman, Jazz Cellist. Chapel Restoration, Cold Spring, NY
Sumi Tonooka, Jazz Pianist. Chapel Restoration, Cold Spring, NY
The Future of Song featuring young musicians. Chapel Restoration, Cold Spring, NY
Violinist Jason K. Hwang and Edge. Chapel Restoration, Cold Spring, NY
ASCAP Music Awards Plus
Cognac Henessey Jazz Search 1st Place
Jazz in July, 2 time full scholarship recipient. University of Massachusetts.
Jazz Study Fellowship/NEA