Classical Californians: Laura Karpman – Classical KUSC

Photo by Amanda Witt

Laura Karpman didn’t start out wanting to be a film composer – her plans involved going to New York from her native Los Angeles to become a “serious” composer. And she did – studying with people like Milton Babbitt and Nadia Boulanger. But she proudly returned to LA, and has provided scores for HBO’s series Lovecraft Country, won an Emmy for the Discovery Channel’s documentary series Why We Hate, as well as founding the Alliance for Women Film Composers. More recently, Laura Karpman has scored the Marvel Studio’s series Ms. Marvel, and the upcoming film The Marvels, which she describes as “a real celebration of female empowerment.” For her Classical Californian playlist, she returns to some of the music she listened to obsessively as a student – from the orchestration of light and dark heard in music of Stravinsky, to Benjamin Britten’s slippery strings, to a jazzy reinterpretation of Ravel. And we’ll hear one of her favorite works by Samuel Barber that she had a chance to re-examine in one of her own pieces.

Tune in at 7pm on Wednesday when she takes the microphone, and then come back here for highlights and extras!  You can also find the archive our past guest hosts here.

Laura Karpman begins with the darkness and light found in the end of Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms… Press the play button to listen to her introduction!

Next, a double-header of a classic by Samuel Barber, and the work by Laura Karpman that was inspired by it.

The piano concerto disguised as a symphony by Leonard Bernstein: The Age of Anxiety

Laura Karpman feels a personal kinship with Margaret Bonds – beyond being birthday buddies…

Now for a jazz take on a classic by Maurice Ravel…

A fresh look at minimalism and adolescent angst by Anna Meredith…

Louise Talma wrote “Prestissimo” – she was a teacher to Laura Karpman at the same time she was taking lessons with Nadia Boulanger in Paris.

And fond recollections of the filmic “Romantic Symphony” of Howard Hanson – which he adapted for this theme of the Interlochen Camp in northern Michigan, which Laura Karpman attended as a young music student.

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KUSC Staff

Classical KUSC, located in the USC building in downtown Los Angeles, broadcasts hand-picked commercial-free classical performances, expert music commentary and coverage of the arts in Southern California. The listener-supported station has been broadcasting for more than 75 years as a broadcast service of the University of Southern California at 91.5(FM) in Los Angeles and Santa Clarita, 88.5 KPSC in Palm Springs, 91.1 KDSC in Thousand Oaks, 93.7 KDB in Santa Barbara and 99.7 KESC in Morro Bay/San Luis Obispo. It is live-streamed at, attracting listeners from around the globe.

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