I’m in New Orleans this weekend for the regional student festival of computer music we call Electric LaTex. This year, we’re hosted by Tae Hong Park at Tulane University, with participation from students at Tulane, LSU, Rice, UT Austin, North Texas, and Texas A&M. But in preparation for this year’s festivities, we’ve discovered that this is, in fact, the 10th edition of LaTex (and that has us professors who organized it feeling a bit old).
So I thought it would be good to write down a brief history of our cozy little event. In 2000, at the SEAMUS National Conference held at the University of North Texas, Jon Christopher Nelson (UNT), Russell Pinkston (U Texas – Austin), and I (LSU) were having dinner and started chatting about how through the strengths of our individual programs created a regional presence for computer and electroacoustic music. But we were lamenting that our students really never got an opportunity to hear each others’ music unless there were fortunate enough to go to a conference like SEAMUS. We also lamented that the only time the three of us ever got together to share a beer was at SEAMUS. Would it be possible to hold a regional festival that (a) brought students and faculty from our three schools together, and (b) kept the administrative efforts on our part to a minimum? After all, Jon was hosting the SEAMUS conference, I was hosting it the next year, and Russell was the President of SEAMUS. The last thing we wanted to do was to create even more work for us.
The solution was an annual student-run, student-organized, student-centric festival that would rotate from school to school each year. Each school would contribute up to 60 minutes of music (this was a festival, not a peer-review conference), students would organize the events, the rehearsals and the post-festival party. The only obligation from us faculty members was to secure the dates and facilities on the school calendar, and to organize the local students so that they would then organize the festival.
Our objective was clear: get the students together, let them build friendships, and create a regional community for electroacoustic music. With that, Electric LaTex was born. Austin would host first, followed by LSU and North Texas. And so on…
The name? A contraction of Louisiana (LA) and Texas (TEX), with a little innuendo stuck in for good measure.
Word got out that this was a great event for students, and we heard from Kurt Stallman at Rice University. They joined LaTex in 2003, hosting in 2004. A few years later, Tae Hong Park came to Tulane and wanted to get his students involved. And Jeff Morris at A&M joined as well. We’ve also heard that at least two other regional student-centric festivals have popped up in Ohio and Florida.
We never thought it would be this successful and influencial. But we always knew it would be fun. And indeed, it still is.
Previous Electric LaTex festivals:
- 2001 – UT Austin
- 2002 – LSU
- 2003 – UNT
- 2004 – Rice
- 2005 – UT Austin
- 2006 – LSU
- 2007 – UNT
- 2008 – Rice
- 2009 – Texas A&M
- 2010 – Tulane
Future Electric LaTex events
- 2011 – UT Austin
- 2012 – LSU
Current faculty advisors: Russell Pinkston (UT Austin), Andrew May and Jon Nelson (UNT), Stephen David Beck and Jesse Allison (LSU), Kurt Stallman (Rice), Jeff Morris (Texas A&M), and Tae Hong Park (Tulane).