Touring schedules might have crossed their paths in any number of cities over the years, but string musicians Lauren Chipman and Ann Marie Calhoun never met until they found themselves travelling together on a months-long rock tour. Accompanying Yanni through Central America and the United States, their friendship emerged as they crossed the country performing six cities of shows each week.
When their conversation wasn’t about music and performing, it most often steered toward fashion, a passionate topic for them both. To fill endless backstage hours, Lauren had already begun making jeweled headbands and fashion accessories to reflect the brilliant stage lighting. The more that Lauren and Ann Marie 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, the two began researching the idea. They googled ice skating sites studying how crystals were used to decorate costuming. They had adhesives, craft boxes and hundreds of Swarovski crystals shipped to hotels along the tour itinerary, and soon were creating prototypes for their bandmates to test. Creating something so uniquely beautiful motivated them even more, and the name Baroque Bling surfaced as naturally as their newfound friendship.
When the tour ended in 2009, their music careers took them in separate directions across the globe -- but they still had the entire line of Swarovski prototypes in storage back in Los Angeles. They continued to keep in touch and after skyping together a business plan, founded Baroque Bling as a reflection of their friendship.
Both Lauren and Ann Marie recall how they “formulated the business of creating a business,” and once they launched their website, orders began flying in as quickly as they could be filled. Strings Magazine called and soon afterwards, the international STRAD Magazine contacted them 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.
Today, Lauren and Ann Marie remain committed to the quality of their domestic production, keeping all hand-crafted fabrication within the United States to carefully monitor unparalleled brand excellence. They continue to create new prototypes, and an expanded line of glamorous string-player products now in development anticipates a Fall 2012 release.
Building upon a vision they created when their business was just a tour bus dream, Lauren and Ann Marie present Baroque Bling as an expression of their passion for playing with a little sparkle.
As 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, Dancing with the Stars, The Voice, American Idol and the Tonight Show, with soundtracks ranging from Grey’s Anatomy to The Bourne Legacy.
A commitment to extensive classical training remains evident in Lauren’s ongoing orchestral work where she sits Principal Violist of both the New West Symphony and Santa Cecilia Orchestra. 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 invitation of the late 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 and serving on their inaugural Millennial Council advisory board.
A graduate of the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, Lauren received her Bachelor of Music in Viola Performance where she studied with renowned violist Donald McInnes. She is currently on faculty at the Colburn School in Los Angeles overseeing the Academy’s Outreach Program.
Ann Marie Calhoun
Ann Marie Calhoun is an internationally acclaimed rock violinist as well as an actress, composer, singer and virtuoso of her instrument across many diverse genres of music. Her extensive experience as a rock violinist includes tours as featured soloist with the legendary Ringo Starr, Yanni, Dave Stewart (Euthrymics), Jethro Tull and Steve Vai. She has appeared as a soloist at the Grammy Awards with the Foo Fighters, performed with Bon Jovi at the White House for President Obama and was featured in the Radio City Music Hall celebration of Nelson Mandela’s birthday.
Her collaborations include Mick Jagger, The Dave Matthews Band, Hans Zimmer, Glen Ballard, Incubus, Aretha Franklin, Ben Harper and Widespread Panic as well as many other acclaimed artists, and several of these collaborations have gone on to receive award nominations. Among the most noted, her work with Steve Vai earned a nomination for a 2010 Grammy Award in the category of Best Rock Band Performance. That same year, Ann Marie’s work scoring and performing with Hans Zimmer in the movie “Sherlock Holmes” received a nomination for a 2010 Academy Award.
Ann Marie’s acting career emerged when she was selected as lead actress and official spokesperson for Tim Kring (creator of HEROES) in his latest multi-platform, charity-driven collaboration with Nokia, a project that further featured her music. Among her recent business inspirations is a line of violin cases with TKL known as “Viori” and the Baroque Bling line of string accessories, one of her favorite ventures.
Formal classical violin studies began at the age of three, and following years of training Ann Marie went on to earn a fellowship to study with the National Symphony Orchestra while still in high school. As she began winning prestigious awards in the classical community, she was also branching out into improvisational styles of music including rock violin, bluegrass fiddle, jazz violin and world music.
She reinforced this love of music with her parallel passion for science, and while at the University of Virginia she double-majored in music and biology, focusing on pre-med requirements. Following graduation, Ann Marie taught conceptual physics and chemistry at Woodberry Forest School, and all-boys boarding school, before she went on to launch her professional career in music.