This week the legendary baritone Sherrill Milnes visited the Triangle, sharing his wealth of knowledge and experiences through a series of lectures, dinners, and Master Classes. Yesterday he gave a Master Class at UNC Chapel Hill for (college-aged) voice students, and today he gave a Master Class at the studio for (graduate-level) fellows of the AJ Fletcher Opera Institute at UNC School of the Arts. The event drew participants all the way from Winston-Salem to Raleigh, with a goodly number coming from Chapel Hill, Durham, and, of course, Pittsboro. Continue reading “A Master Class with Sherrill Milnes”
Two weeks ago, world-renowned and Grammy®-winning violinist Gil Shaham performed Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D with the UNC Symphony Orchestra. The electrifying performance was a capstone event for the first half of his 2015-2016 artist-in-residence program at UNC Chapel Hill. The smiles on the faces of those students after the performance confirmed that they knew that they had not merely witnessed greatness, but had participating in creating that greatness. And with that great success now a part of their foundation, they can aim even higher in whatever they do next, whether it be more performances, academics, professional career ambitions, or public service. As a Carolina Performing Arts board member, I am proud generally of the artistic residencies we have helped to realize at Chapel Hill, and very proud of this one in particular.
Last week, I had a chance to witness and help support another artist-in-residence program in Chapel Hill. Banda Magda (founded by Greek-born singer, film scorer, and composer Magda Giannikou) has played Carnegie Hall, Webster Hall, Irving Plaza, The Kennedy Center, The Jefferson Center, Celebrate Brooklyn, Jazz al Parque, St. Moritz Festival Da Jazz, and the Chicago World Music Festival. Their debut album Amour, t’es là? set a blistering pace (Top 10 Billboard World Music Charts, NPR’s All Songs Considered, First Listen, NPR’s 10 favorite World Music Albums 2013), and their second album Yerakina shows the next step in their musical evolution. Magda and her band-mates have composed and/or performed on a number of Grammy®-winning and Grammy®-nominated projects, yet instead of chasing only brighter and brighter lights, she takes the time to bring up the next generation of artists and creators by doing artist residences with youth orchestras. This year the stars aligned for the youth orchestra of the Guy B. Phillips Middle School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
This past weekend, Manifold Recording hosted four ensembles of the Chrysalis Chamber Music Institute from UNC School of the Arts (UNCSA): the Giannini String Quartet, the Liminal Phase wind quintet, the Chrysalis Brass Quintet, and an ad hoc piano/violin duet. The goal of the session was to give these developing musicians an opportunity to hear themselves in a new way–recorded in a studio setting. Of course musicians must be able to hear themselves, and of course they must be able to hear other members of their ensemble. But beyond that, how much do they take for granted that what sounds good inside the circle will translate beyond it. This session gave them the opportunity to experience this for themselves.
Sarah Shook came to Manifold Recording by way of an Intern from Italy, Mario Bianchi, but the story of Sidelong, Sarah’s first full-length album, has a longer history. And one that makes this album release that much sweeter.
A recent feature in INDY Week tells the backstory of a Sarah’s journey, from growing up in a fundamentalist Christian household in Rochester NY to the devilish ways that led first to her musical emancipation, her break from religion, and ultimately the embrace of herself as a unique and uniquely driven person. Regardless of how dangerous that may be. And without any apologies.
Sarah first came to Manifold Recording to make an EP with her band, Sarah Shook and The Devil. It was a fast and wild ride, but one that told us that there was some real magic, too. Ian Schreier took it upon himself to use his 20+ years in the business to convince Sarah to come back and make a real record, with him as producer. The fact that her band had just dissolved wasn’t an excuse to sidetrack the project.
Once Sarah had recruited a new band that could both play together and work together, Ian was ready take the reins as Producer.
Last night as I was driving home, I heard Bryan Adams interviewed on the CBC’s program q. In the course of that interview, he went into some details about his three-step process for making a record:
- Write the song
- Record the demo
- Make the record
His 12 studio albums have been extremely successful, with 11 going at least Gold, and Reckless going 5x Platinum. He’s also charted more than 10 #1 singles. Clearly he has a talent for writing and performing, but he has also learned to follow a process that helps good become great and great become the best.
Bryan takes collaboration as a given. Just as Design Thinking teaches that “the best idea wins”, so, too, does it apply to songwriting and producing. When he was just getting started, he felt his initial drafts were “precious” and wanted to retain the purity of his authorship. But, as he says in the interview, “Mutt Lange beat it out of me.” And as Wikipedia reports, they co-wrote “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You“, a hugely successful single written for the Kevin Costner film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves that currently holds the record for the longest consecutive Number 1 UK chart single with 16 consecutive weeks at the top of the charts (7 July-26 October 1991). They clearly worked well together!
After the songs are written, demos are recorded. The demo is the first really concrete representation of a song as it might be played and recorded for real. Demos are not low-quality sketches, but an honest first draft of the real thing. They are also a baseline for quality: when recording a record, Bryan’s goal is that each “real” song be better than the demo. In cases where that doesn’t happen, the song is likely going to be left off the album. The demo provides an objective way to tell if they are really knocking the ball out of the park or if they are just making another version of the demo.
When enough material has passed the demo test to fill out an album, and when that material all fits together coherently, then it becomes possible to make a record that will be successful.
Obviously Bryan Adams has had a very successful career as a musician. In his telling of his own story he is humble and humorous, but it is also clear that he follows best practices rather than ignoring them. And this has certainly served him well.
One of the reasons I was so excited to install a Harrison Trion console in the Annex Control Room is that it used commodity processors to do all its musical math. Which meant that as processors got faster, the console could, too. That was realized this past weekend when we swapped out four Xengine processors (4U, 750W PSUs each) and replaced them with two Xengine2 processors (4U, 400W PSUs each). We went from almost overloading our 2200VA APC UPC to not even lighting up the first of 5 load LEDs! Moreover, the new engines support 4x more “Toys” (complex Harrison plug-ins) and 50% more channel capacity, taking us from 96 channels at 96K to 144 channels at 96K. Awesome!
I cannot believe it’s been nearly 3 months since I last updated the blog. That’s not a sign about how quiet things have been, but rather how busy they have been!
In January we started a flamenco project with Ed Stephenson and his Paco Band. We did several days of pre-production, several days of tracking, one more day of tracking to do, and then we’ll be mixing the album for release later this year. We shot a video of one of the songs that will also be released with the album. Here’s a few images from that:
Beat Your Boots is the name of a new acoustic guitar duo from Fayetteville, North Carolina. Stationed at Fort Bragg, Chris Roberts and Jacob Eubanks write and perform original tunes that are gaining traction on local radio stations such as 95.7 WKML and winning fans as they open shows in the area.
Last year we offered a day in the studio as a prize for the annual Huske Unplugged Singer/Songwriter Competition. I had a chance to see some of the winners from years past, and I was impressed! New artists need every advantage they can get these days, and we felt that when the audience and the judges pick the best of more than 50 new artists, the winner deserves to make a demo they can be proud of. This year, Chris and Jacob won, and so it was their turn to find a day they could take leave from the base and record some songs. Turns out it took them until nearly Christmas to take that leave.
Here are some photos from that session:
Continue reading “Acoustic Duo win Songwriting Contest…and a day in the studio”
Guitar virtuoso and teacher Wayne Krantz and his trio are coming to the Miraverse February 15, 2015, and we are so excited! I first learned about Wayne from the AbstractLogix catalog. My love of the music created by John McLaughlin, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Herring, and others of that sort predicted I would like Wayne’s music. Not because he imitates them–he most certainly doesn’t! But because he is as boldly original as they are, bringing together an exciting mix of classic and alien, funky and beautiful, harmonic and angular. I bought the self-titled album Krantz Carlock Lefebvre and it spent weeks in the player as I listened to it over and over and over again.
When Wayne released a book (An Improviser’s OS), I found myself falling down a rabbit hole of nearly infinite complexity. And infinitely beautiful. And that’s how I learned that in addition to being a creative composer and master player, he is also a teacher.
So it is fitting, then, for him to come to the Miraverse both to play, and to teach…and you can attend his lessons and/or performances by clicking here.
Still reading? Then here’s some more motivation to come…
Last week we hosted a benefit recital for two fellows of the A. J. Fletcher Opera Institute, Jaclyn Surso and Megan Cleaveland. These two talented sopranos needed to raise money to offset costs to travel to Italy for the summer to study and perform under renowned soprano Renata Scotto, and we saw a perfect opportunity to help.