GWEN LASTER (violinist/composer) is a native Detroiter whose creative voice is heavily informed by the Motor City's burnin’ urban music culture. She earned both Bachelor and Master degrees from University of Michigan School of Music. She began her studies in improvisation in high school with the educator Anderson White, whose orchestral rehearsals included electric violins, amplifiers and David Baker string arrangements. She has received major performance, composition and teaching awards from the NEA, ASCAP, Lila Wallace, and a first place, $10,000 award from Cognac Hennessey Jazz. She’s the visionary founder of the Creative Improvisers Orchestra (CIO) the first non-traditional intuitive music education program at Interlochen Summer Institute, the Sphinx Performance and Preparatory Academy, and the Eastman School of Music. CIO reaches and teaches young musicians with the greatest needs and the fewest resources. She is a member of the Sphinx Symphony, Brooklyn Philharmonic and Go: Organic Orchestra. Gwen's music publications are available at CD Baby, iTunes and other digital media sources. Her discography as a leader includes Sneak Preview and I Hear You Smiling.
She has performed with Wadada Leo Smith, Anthony Braxton, Nona Hendryx, Aretha Franklin and Natalie Cole, and many others.