A clarinetist as well as a composer, Ray's professional career began in 1967 with a 4 year enlistment with the USAF Band in Wash.. D.C., as clarinetist and composer/arranger. From 1971-74 Ray taught at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point; from 1974-76 Ray taught Composition at Northwestern University and was a co-founder of The Twittering Machine, contemporary music ensemble of Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art; and from 1976-1981 Ray was on the faculty of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where he conducted Kansas City's Civic Orchestra and founded the Kansas City Contemporary Music Ensemble.
From 1981-2010 Ray was Associate Principal Clarinet of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. During that time Ray's music was played by all the leading Canadian Orchestras and was included on international tours by the Toronto Symphony. As well, in Canada he began an association with leading theater professionals as well as with the Canadian Film Center, where he taught a course in film music. For the Toronto Symphony, Ray created an educational, outreach program called Adopt-a-Player- a program that teaches elementary school children skills in musical improvisation and composition.
In the summer of 2010 Ray moved back to New York City, where he is a full-time composer as well as director of Voice Afire Pocket Opera-Cabaret, a music theater company. Since 2010 Voice Afire has produced 2 shows each year, shows that integrate theater with chamber music For the 2013-14 season, Voice Afire produced The Art of Love, Ray's monodrama for 2 pianos and actor; and Kafka Shorts, for string quartet and 2 actors.
Recordings of Ray Luedeke's music include Shadow Music with the Louisville Orchestra, The Transparency of Time with pianist Andre LaPlante and the Winnipeg Symphony, The Moon in the Labyrinth and The Lyre of Orpheus with harpist Judy Loman and the Orford String Quartet, Brass Quintet with the New Mexico Brass Quintet, Circus Music with the Hannaford Street Silver Band, Ah, Matsushima! with violin/marimba duo Jacques and Michael Israelievitch, and Tango Dreams for accordion and string trio with accordion champion Alex Sevastian. Quartetto Gelato has recorded Ray's brilliant arrangement of Maurice Ravel's Le Tombeau de Couperin and has performed it worldwide.
Ray Luedeke's music has been recognized by numerous grants and awards, among them prizes from the Manhattan Choral Ensemble, from the Percussive Arts Society, from the International Horn Society, and from Northwestern University. His contest winning orchestral Fanfare, opened Toronto's Thomson Hall and his overture The North Wind's Gift was performed throughout Europe in the 1991 tour of the Toronto Symphony. Six Canadian orchestras jointly commissioned Tales of the Netsilik for narrator and orchestra.
Ray Luedeke is an experienced librettist. He collaborated with playwright Sean Dixon for his first opera, Wild Flowers, produced at The Guelph Spring Festival. Subsequently, he worked with acclaimed director/dramaturge Tom Diamond to write the libretto for his second opera, The Magical Singing Drum, and the script for The Art of Love/Into the Labyrinth for two pianos, visuals and actor. The distinguished Canadian playwright Guillermo Verdecchia served as dramaturge for Ray's script for his third opera, My Life with Pablo Neruda. Ray's most recent script is for Kakfa Shorts for 2 actors and string quartet.