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MA Top 30 Professional: Laura Cocks
By Hannah Edgar
December 5, 2023

Executive Director and Flutist

It’s en vogue for groups to call themselves “collectives,” but TAK, an ensemble founded in 2013, is as democratic as they come: Artistic decisions are run through consensus in the group and the five members divide administrative duties equally. In fact, when Executive Director Laura Cocks—a leading commissioner and interpreter of new flute repertoire in her own right—learned she’d been nominated for this recognition, her very acceptance was the subject of group discussion, not to mention disbelief.

In addition to Cocks on flute, TAK is clarinetist Madison Greenstone, vocalist Charlotte Mundy, violinist Marina Kifferstein, and percussionist Ellery Trafford.

“There’s never been anything we’ve done that’s been solely my project,” Cocks says. “I want to stress just how collective the nature of the ensemble is, from really every angle.”

That team spirit extends to partner composers, as well. The group founded a record label, TAK Editions, to support composers in making first-time recordings of their works; TAK also produces a podcast that hosts insightful conversations on new music. Its investment in new talent includes composer-workshop residencies at several U.S. universities—up next are Princeton, Huddersfield, and the University of Chicago. The most extensive of these was a yearlong stint at the University of Pennsylvania, which also included an open rehearsal of a new piece by Tyshawn Sorey and a course on non-traditional performance.

TAK’s explorations are as deep as they are broad. The ensemble cultivates sustained collaborations with composers, like Bethany Younge and Eric Wubbels, working with the latter on interbeing, a multimedia music theater project, since 2016. When money is tight, Cocks says TAK members often forego their own compensation so composers and other collaborators can be paid fairly

“When we’re collaborating with someone, whether they’re writing for us, we’re presenting them, or something else, we really want to give them full artistic reign,” Cocks says. “It’s a richer experience for everyone involved.”


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