Multi-tasking musician

Lauren Pelon will play 21 instruments during upcoming performance

Lauren Pelon

Lauren Pelon

Learning to play one instrument would be an accomplishment for most, but for musician and music historian Lauren Pelon, performing with more than 20 instruments is just a typical day’s work.

Pelon will perform “The Living Roots of Music” in the Laramie County Library’s Cottonwood Room as part of the Laramie County Community College Bank of the West Music Series. The free event will start at 6 p.m. Sept. 21 at 2200 Pioneer Ave.

The performance, in which Pelon will play 21 instruments and sing, is designed to tell the story of the last 20 centuries of music. She will play music that originated in ancient Greece, medieval and renaissance Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas, according to Pelon’s website.

Pelon performs her own compositions, and her arrangements of songs and instrumentals come from many countries, cultures and time periods. She said she loves blending the ancient and modern instruments.

The instruments Pelon will play include: rchlute, guitar, lute-guitar, lyre, recorders, gemshorns, cornamuse, krummhorn, schreierpfeife, shawm, rackett, pennywhistles, concertina, ocarina, hurdy-gurdy, psaltery, eagle bone flute, Kiowa courting flute, electric wind instrument and pedalboard.

Pelon said the gemshorn, popular during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, was originally made from the horn of the chamois or the horn of oxen and carved out of ivory, but today they are usually made from the horn of cows.

“I have a quartet of instruments (soprano, alto, tenor and bass gemshorn) made by Pavel Číp,” she said. “They have a sweet, lovely sound and add a unique quality to many kinds of music.”

Another interesting instrument Pelon plays is the archlute, which has two peg boxes with 13 strings attached to the first peg box and six strings attached to the second peg box.

“It has a beautiful sound for early music, and I also enjoy using it to accompany my voice on contemporary music,” she said.
While Pelon loved music since she was a young child, she said she did not study music until she was 18. She studied music and literature at Western Michigan University. The first instrument she studied was the recorder, and she performed with the Collegium Musicum. She continued to study the recorder and other early wind and string instruments with the New York Recorder Workshop.

In 1977, Pelon co-founded a "renaissance-jazz" trio, called "Banish Misfortune," based in Alaska. The group toured throughout the United States and Canada until 1987, when she started the Lauren Pelon Musique Company.  

Pelon has performed with The Philadelphia String Quartet and at the Russian Institute for the History of the Arts in St. Petersburg, Russia. She was named Artist of the Year by the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council in 2001. She was honored with the Artist Initiative Award in 2010 and the 2014 Arts Tour Minnesota Grant Award from the Minnesota States Arts Board.

Monday Sept. 21

Free admission

Laramie County Library, 2200 Pioneer Ave.

Cottonwood room at 6 p.m.