Touring schedules might have crossed their paths in any number of cities or just as easily had them start up casual conversation in a recording studio or on a Hollywood soundstage. But string musicians Lauren Chipman and Ann Marie Calhoun had never met until they found themselves travelling together on a months-long rock tour accompanying Yanni through Central America and the United States. It was only when they were assigned as bunkmates on one of the four luxury tour busses that Lauren and Ann Marie finally became acquainted.
A friendship emerged during miles of travel as they crossed the country performing six cities of shows every week. When conversations weren’t about music and performing, they most often steered toward fashion, a favorite topic. Filling endless backstage hours, Lauren had already begun making sparkling headbands and glamorous fashion accessories to reflect brilliant stage lighting. The more the two chatted about music, fashion and style, an idea slowly began to emerge – why not find a way to affix jewels to musical instruments?
As miles slipped away beneath tour bus wheels, research into the idea began. Ice skating sites were Googled to study how crystals were used to decorate costuming. Adhesives, craft boxes and hundreds of Swarovski crystals were ordered and shipped to hotels along the tour itinerary, and prototypes were soon ready for bandmates to test. Creating something so uniquely beautiful was motivating, and once Lauren coined the name Baroque Bling, the idea of it all became a possibility.
When the tour ended in 2009, their music careers took them in separate directions across the globe -- but they still had the line of Swarovski prototypes in storage back in Los Angeles. They continued to keep in touch and after skyping together an early business plan, Baroque Bling was born.
Lauren recalls how they “formulated the business of creating a business,” and once the website was launched, orders began flying in as quickly as they could be filled. Strings Magazine called and soon afterwards, the international STRAD Magazine contacted Lauren for interviews, both making Baroque Bling “Products of the Month” in 2010. With orders coming in from around the world, Connolly Music Company took on exclusive domestic distribution rights to their Swarovski-encrusted mutes and tailpieces in 2011.
As Ann Marie’s performance career continued taking her outside the country that next year, she increasingly left the business and creative operations of Baroque Bling to Lauren back in Los Angeles. Early in 2013, Lauren took on full ownership and creative control of Baroque Bling, and began modeling a new direction for the company.
Today, Lauren remains true to the original quality commitment of Baroque Bling’s domestic production, keeping all hand-crafted fabrication within the United States to carefully monitor unparalleled brand excellence. Continuing to dream new prototypes, she is expanding the development of glamorous string-player products in anticipation of the Holiday 2013 introduction of her new Motif fine jewelry line.
Building upon that vision first created when the business was just a tour bus dream, Lauren presents Baroque Bling as an expression of her passion for playing with a little sparkle.
An instrumentalist who weaves through music genres, Lauren is as comfortable in classical settings as she is on a Hollywood soundstage. Living in Los Angeles, she is a member of The Section Quartet as well as musician and songwriter with indie band The Rentals. Lauren performs and records with such artists as Justin Timberlake, John Legend, Aerosmith, Barbara Streisand, Christina Aguilera, Pink, Taylor Swift and Robbie Williams. Television appearances include the Grammys, American Music Awards, HBO: Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Concert, Dancing with the Stars, The Voice, American Idol and the Tonight Show, with soundtracks ranging from Revenge and Dexter to Oz: The Great & Powerful.
A commitment to extensive classical training remains evident in Lauren’s ongoing orchestral work where she sits Principal Violist of the New West Symphony. Chamber music appearances include performing with Midori at Zipper Hall as part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Chamber Series and the Ysaye Quartet for the Maestro Foundation Chamber Music Series. She toured South America and Europe to sold-out performances with The Armstrong Quartet, and at the age of only 17 appeared at Carnegie Hall with the Favrile Quartet by personal invitation of Isaac Stern.
A laureate in numerous solo competitions over the years, Lauren won the Jack Smith Memorial Award for Most Promising Talent at the 2002 Pasadena Showcase and First Prize in the Chicago Viola Society Competition. While still in the seventh grade, she recorded the viola solo for the Encyclopaedia Britannica’s early introduction of its CD-rom format.
During 2010, Lauren made a return appearance on NPR’s “From the Top” radio show as a featured 10th Anniversary alum performing live with pianist Christopher O’Riley. This live broadcast highlighted not only a career retrospective but revisited her two previous NPR appearances at the age of only 17. Lauren continues to collaborate with “From the Top” conducting educational and community involvement programs on the West Coast, co-hosted their 2013 Gala in Boston and most recently performed as music director for their appearance at 2013 Google Zeitgeist .
A graduate of the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, Lauren received her Bachelor of Music in Viola Performance and pursued graduate studies with renowned violist Donald McInnes. She is currently on faculty at the Colburn School in Los Angeles overseeing the Academy’s Outreach Program.