The Universal Language of Music and Dramatic Arts

headshot of Eric Lau


A Discussion with Incoming Dean Eric Lau

Please briefly describe your research. How did you decide to focus on this particular area? How is it important to you?

As a saxophonist, my creative activity is in the area of performance, and over the years I have presented masterclasses and concerts across the US as well as in Puerto Rico, Brazil, and Europe. While I perform in a wide range of settings, my primary focus recently has been on chamber music with Iridium, the saxophone quartet I founded, with activities centered on commissioning, performing, and recording new music for the saxophone quartet. I chose to focus on chamber music because it is a wonderful combination of musical collaboration and autonomy. Each player in the group must be both a leader and a follower during a performance. Great performances are marked by how well the musicians play together, working toward a shared musical vision, while also giving space for individual interpretation and expression.

What impacts have you seen from your research? How have these impacts shaped your career?

My experiences as a performer have had a direct impact on my teaching. The skills and techniques I share with my students were learned through countless hours of practice and hundreds of performances. One of the great joys of my career has been seeing the impact of this training on students, helping them to be successful as performers, teachers, and leaders. I am so thankful to my students who have become teachers themselves, continuing to share the beauty and excitement of music with their students. Musical training goes far beyond teaching a person how to play an instrument and can be a life-changing experience. Each new piece is a challenge to be overcome, a puzzle to be solved, and an opportunity for the performer to express something personal and make a connection with the audience. To be successful, a musician must be a creative problem solver, an effective collaborator and communicator, and possess perseverance, courage, and humility. I credit the skills I developed during my musical training with my successful transition from student to faculty member to academic leader.

How does your research relate to LSU’s Scholarship First Agenda? How can the law, and LSU Law in particular, impact and serve Louisiana? 

Whether it be the four notes of the pregame salute at an LSU Football game, a production by the School of Theatre, or a performance of the LSU Orchestra, the College of Music and Dramatic Arts is central to the cultural landscape of Louisiana. Music and the dramatic arts are universal to the human experience, providing a space where we can engage with the most complicated and difficult questions our society faces in unique and powerful ways. We in the CMDA are storytellers and can provide new perspectives on the challenges that LSU is looking to address in the Scholarship First Agenda. The CMDA serves the state by providing hundreds of public performances, creating new art and scholarship, and training the next generation of teachers and leaders for Louisiana.