Famous Five: Women composers in media

Five women composers in media, clockwise from top left: Lili Haydn, Kathryn Bostic, Miriam Cutler, Laura Karpman, Lolita Ritmanis.Getty Images (4); artist provided (Haydn)


Famous Five: Women composers in media

50:53


August 03, 2015

In 2012, Dr. Martha Lauzen released a study on women working in Hollywood called The Status of Women in Media.

The following year, Dr. Lauzen included the category of composers, and of the top 250 box office films in 2013, two percent were scored by women.

Composer Laura Karpman was one of those women that year, and has since begun the Alliance for Women Film Composers. The Alliance seeks to raise awareness of not necessarily the disparity, but rather the large number of successful, working women composers that already exist.

Laura asked if I'd be willing to highlight some of the many in the field, and it was incredible to speak with them and learn (or re-learn, in some cases) their music.

Here are five of the many:

Laura Karpman: Laura trained at Juilliard and was an apprentice of Milton Babbitt for years. She's scored swaths of critically acclaimed music for stage, film, video games, all the major television networks, and nearly any other form of media you can imagine. Her most recent project is Ask Your Mama, a piece based on poetry of the same name by Langston Hughes.

Miriam Cutler: Miriam and Laura began the Alliance for Women Film Composers together. Miriam is well-known for her work in documentaries. How did she end up doing that? She has a great story, including a job singing telegrams.

Kathryn Bostic: Kathryn tosses her hat into many rings. She regularly performs live, she's a singer/songwriter, and she scores films. She worked with August Wilson in the early '00s on Gem of the Ocean, and scored the PBS documentary on August Wilson's life, The Ground on Which I Stand.

Lili Haydn: Lili is also a Jill-of-all-trades, having initially got into scoring due to her successful solo recordings. In addition to being a fantastic violinist, Lili sings and scores. She also shares a story about her incredible journey to recovery, thanks to Mendelssohn.

Lolita Ritmanis: Lolita, like Miriam, carved herself a niche. Not documentaries, but superhero animated stories. She wrote the wildly popular theme to Justice League, and won Emmys for her work on Batman Beyond. She also discusses her Latvian heritage and her work in that country.