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Laura Karpman

Laura Anne Karpman (born March 1, 1959 in Los Angeles, is an American composer, whose work has included scoring for film, television, video games, theater, and concert. She has won four Emmy Awards for her work. Karpman was trained at The Juilliard School where she played jazz, and honed her skills scatting in bars.



Karpman worked with John Harbison at the Tanglewood Music Center, and attended Aspen Music School and the Ecole des Arts Americaines, where she worked with Nadia Boulanger. She received her Bachelor of Music from the University of Michigan, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude, studying with William Bolcom and Leslie Bassett. She received both her Doctor and Masters in Music Composition at The Juilliard School, where her principal teacher was Milton Babbitt.


Compositions by Karpman have been commissioned by Tonya Pinkins, Los Angeles Opera, American Composers Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, The Juilliard Choral Union, Pacific Serenades,[1] and percussionist Evelyn Glennie. They have been performed internationally.

Karpman's theater catalog includes three musicals for Los Angeles’s "A Noise Within" theater company, as well as underscores for dozens of classic plays. Among her media music credits are Steven Spielberg's Emmy-winning, 20-hour TV miniseries, "Taken"; and PBS's series "The Living Edens" (for which she received nine Emmy nominations). She has scored numerous films, television programs and video games (including music for "Halo 3" and her award-winning score for "Everquest II"). Karpman received an Annie Award nomination for "A Monkey's Tale", a short film commissioned by the Chinese Government, which later premiered in the US and was performed by the Detroit Symphony.

Karpman’s score for "Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz" premiered at Langston Hughes's epic poem for a libretto, Karpman's work exhibited an eclectic musical mix. Using Hughes' own voice at the core of the work, this musical includes passages from Louis Armstrong, Big Maybelle, Pigmeat Markham and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, integrated with projected images by Rico Gatson and additional archival video, as well as Hughes's own poetry. Annie Dorsen directed.

Later, Karpman created "The 110 Project", a work commissioned by the L.A. Opera as a paean to the city's first freeway, I-110, which turned 70 in 2009.

Awards and nominations

Annie Awards

  • 2007 nomination, "Best Music in an Animated Feature Production" for A Monkey's Tale

BMI Film & TV Awards

  • 2003 win, "BMI Cable Mini-Series Award" for Taken

The Charles Ives Award, American Academy of Arts and Letters

  • 1984 win

Daytime Emmy Awards

  • 2008 nomination, "Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Music and Sound" for Craft in America (PBS)

Emmy Awards

  • 2008 nomination, "Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (Original Dramatic Score)" for Masters of Science Fiction episode "Jerry Was a Man".
  • 2003 nomination, "Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Dramatic Underscore)" for Odyssey 5 pilot episode

G.A.N.G. Awards

  • 2004 win, "Best Arrangement of a Non-Original Score" for Everquest II
  • 2004 nomination, "Best Music of the Year" for Everquest II

News & Documentary Emmy Awards

  • 2008 nomination, "Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Music and Sound" for Craft in America
  • 2003 nomination, "Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Music and Sound" for The Living Edens for "Big Sur: California's Wild Coast". Nomination shared with Nancy Severinsen, Clifford Hoelscher, Mark Linden, and Tara Paul.
  • 2001 nomination, "Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft - Music" for The Living Edens episode "Kamchatka: Siberia's Forbidden Wilderness".
  • 2000 nominations, "Outstanding Achievement in a Craft in News and Documentary Programming - Music"
    • for The Living Edens episode "Costa Rica: Land of Pure Life"
    • for The Living Edens episode "Palau: Paradise of the Pacific"
  • 1999 win, "Outstanding Achievement in a Craft in News and Documentary Programming - Music" for The Living Edens episode "Madagascar: A World Apart".
  • 1998 win "Outstanding Achievement in a Craft in News and Documentary Programming - Music" for The Living Edens episodes "Denali: Alaska's Great Wilderness", "Manu: Peru's Hidden Rain Forest", "Patagonia: Life at the End of the Earth".


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Further reading

  • Vivien Lejeune, “Laura Karpman Taken by Steven Spielberg,” Cinefonia, No. 2, Nov. 2003.
  • Jeff Bond, “Taken With Her Music,” Film Score Monthly, July 2003.
  • Jon Burlingame, “Women in Showbiz: TV, Film Composer Not Confined to Any One Medium,” Daily Variety, Nov. 14, 2001.
  • Jon Burlingame, “Women in Showbiz: Composers Curry Kudos,” Daily Variety, November 8, 1999.
  • “Fast Track—Composers Worth Listening to: Laura Karpman,” The Hollywood Reporter, January 26, 1998.
  • Michael Kamensky, “Spotlight: Laura Karpman,” The Hollywood Reporter, January 26, 1995.
  • Fred Karlin, On The Track: A Guide to Contemporary Film Scoring, 2nd Ed., Routledge, 2004.
  • “Composer Laura Karpman Receives 4 Emmy Nominations,” Pro Sound News, 1998.
  • Rudy Kopl, “Taken With Her Music,” Film Score Monthly, June 1997.
  • Jennifer Seidel, “Keeping Score,” Electronic Musician, November 1995.
  • Curt Schleier, “Composer Can’t Help but Make Her Music Sound Jewish,” The Jewish Transcript, June 25, 1999.
  • Curt Schleier, “East of Eden,” The Jewish Week, April 23, 1999.
  • “Laura Karpman,” The Advocate, May 2, 1995.
  • K. Robert Schwartz, “A Woman of Independent Themes,” Out Magazine, November 1995.
  • David G. Taylor, “Duet for the Emmys,” The Advocate, September 30, 2003.

By Laura Karpman:

  • “An Interview with Milton Babbitt,” Perspectives of New Music, v.24 n.213, Spring-Summer 1986.

External links

  • Laura Karpman Official Website
  • Ask Your Mama
  • UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television: Laura Karpman

Articles and interviews

  • "Settling the Score"
  • "Ode to Joystick"
  • "Viewpoint"
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