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Laurence Kaptain was born to a Hungarian father and was exposed to the cimbalom at an early age by attending ethnic social functions in his hometown of Elgin, Illinois. He was awarded a grant to study cimbalom in Budapest, Hungary and has appeared with major North American, Mexican and European symphonic ensembles for over 25 years. Most recently he has appeared with the New York Philharmonic and cellist Yo-Yo Ma, a series of concerts with the Baltimore Symphony and pop artist/composer Elvis Costello, Pittsburgh Symphony, and collaboration with prominent Dutch composer Louis Andriessen. Kaptain has also appeared with leading solo and chamber artists, including Gil Shaham, Monica Germino, Lucy Shelton, Christina Zavalloni, John Jorgensen, Gilles Apap, Robert McDuffie, and others.

He has recently been heard with the Chicago Symphony at the 2013 Ravinia Festival, National Symphony at the Kennedy Center, Nashville Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional (the national symphony of Mexico), St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and soprano Dawn Upshaw and the Louisiana Philharmonic (with Yo-Yo Ma).  His performance with the New York Philharmonic also included actor Alec Baldwin and has been issued on iTunes.

He may be heard on the Teldec, London/Decca, Chandos, and Deutsche Grammophon, and has performed under James Levine, Pierre Boulez, the late Sir Georg Solti, Neeme Järvi, Giancarlo Guerrero, Gilbert Vargas, Hugh Wolff, Alan Gilbert, David Zinman, Valery Gergiyev, Carlos Miguel Prieto, Timothy Muffitt, Larry Rachleff, Donald Schleicher, James Conlon, Alan Gilbert, Reinbert DeLeew, H. Robert Reynolds, Leonard Slatkin, Kurt Masur, Ivan Fisher, Adam Fisher, Edo de Waart, Charles Dutoit, Kent Nagano, Osmo Vänskä, Hans Graf, Christoph von Dohnányi, Zuohuang Chen, Paul Gambill, Gary Lewis, and others.

In 1987, Kaptain was the first individual to receive the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in percussion instruments from the University of Michigan. His other degrees are from the University of Miami (Florida) and Ball State University. He has been on the percussion faculty of the UMKC Conservatory, Drake University, Stephen F. Austin State University, and has held visiting appointments at the University of Michigan, Oberlin Conservatory, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His principal teachers have been Michael Udow, Charles Owen, James Lane, Erwin Mueller, G. Allan O’Connor, James Ross, Duane Thamm and George McNabney.

Before assuming his post as Dean at LSU, he was Dean of Shenandoah Conservatory, Director of the Schwob School of Music in Georgia, and Vice-Provost for Faculty Programs and Academic Quality at UMKC. He is featured in Peter Seldin’s book, “The Administrative Portfolio” and consults and makes presentations internationally on numerous topics in higher education, communication, and improving faculty teaching and student learning.

While at the University of Michigan he was a Fulbright Scholar to Mexico, received a Rackham Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, and was the first recipient of the UM Charles Owen-James Salmon Percussion Award. His Fulbright award led to numerous publications and recordings of the Mexican marimba tradition that is centered in the State of Chiapas. His book, Las Maderas Que Cantan, was translated and published in Spanish by the government of the State of Chiapas. He travels to Mexico often as an adjudicator, guest lecturer and consultant.


Laurence Kaptain, is currently Dean of the College of Arts & Media at the Unversity of Colorado Denver. 



Skype: laurencekaptain

Facebook: Laurence Kaptain

Twitter: @LKaptain and @DeanontheGeaux


Voice: 706.662.8690







Laurence Kaptain with Maestro Carlos Miguel Prieto and the National Symphony of Mexico (OSN) in Mexico City,on a rehearsal break in 2012.

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