Photographer: Meg Nanna
H E L L O !
My name is Emily Lau, and I am a maker of art and communities. Many people would call me a composer, singer, people-gatherer, and teacher of music and empathy. My artistic projects traverse many mediums, including music, theatre, movement, film, and text. While each project does usually come to a specific aesthetic outcome, my collective body of work is ideologically and methodologically conceived. The thesis of my work itself is post-aesthetic; the aesthetics of each piece only serve as a memento of the people assembled to create it.
While I frequently upend the limits of genre, a strong thread of core values runs through my work. I honor the people I work with. I create compassionate art that brings light to the delight and suffering of the human experience. Creating art and educating the next generation in its importance can be a way of collectively dreaming for a more equitable world.
Virtuosity—a confident command of my craft and my continual dedication to its development—enables everything I make. Most of my new works are collectively devised with trusted collaborators, each virtuosic in their own right. My process has crystalized into the Lau Method, which incorporates techniques and principles drawn from physical theater, expressive art therapy, Dalcroze-eurhythmics, and global performance art. I am also a professional singer of new and historical music, performing and recording with leading ensembles nationally and internationally.
BBC Radio calls my contemporary compositions "haunting" and "emotional", Cleveland Classical Review praised my singing of medieval music "striking", and Boston Musical Intelligencer called the multi-media shows I have produced and directed “magical” and “imaginative”. Originally from Hong Kong, I have set up permanent camp in the strange and fascinating cultural landscape that is the USA with periodic encouragement by major institutions, in both classical and other popular genres. As a composer, I have written for GRAMMY-winning ensembles, network television shows, NPR, and more. As a singer and director, I have appeared on leading new and early music series and festivals both domestically and internationally. I have presented clinics and lectures at Wellesley College, Harvard University, ASU, University of Arizona, UCLA, Boston University, Seattle University, and numerous high schools and community arts programs.
I am founding artistic director of the eclectic chamber ensemble The Broken Consort, and the Artistic Director of Portland's new and inclusive music community, Big Mouth Society. Between the two groups, I serve mostly as the protective godmother to the creative and emotional health of a collective of artists. I love my work and the people I serve. I teach voice and coach chamber music at Reed College and from my private studio, where I get to meet some really interesting people on a daily basis. A big fan of culinary and medicinal culture, I also own and run a tea house-restaurant (www.cloudpinepdx.com) as an integrated art project near Portland.
You can hear my singing on several major labels with numerous ensembles, including Dorian, Gothic, Reference, and Albany, amongst them the GRAMMY-winning project Far in the Heavens. You can listen to full-length albums of my original works on Isle of Lucidity (2012), Isle of Majesty (2019), and Opus 1 & 2: Radical Softness & The Glorious Cuntata. I'd recommend listening to them with a glass of wine or some hot tea.
While the pandemic has upended many of my performance projects, I have stayed busy working at the tea house, community-building, and composing. Some of the exciting projects include the world premiere of "Our Queer Mother, Gabriela", a three-movement orchestral/vocal suite commissioned by INSeries for the 40th anniversary at the Kennedy Center; an expansive, student-oriented commissioned work with Boston University choir for the 150th anniversary celebration; and a gigantic commission with Big Mouth Society, "The Common Opus", involving 100+ community members and 20+ musicians to create a brand new work through an integrative, generative process that will turn into a full-length album.
Photographer: Meg Nanna