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A Residence in Sound Engineering

Posted: 03/30/2012

What do 12 Skidmore student musicians have in common with pianist Jeremy Denk, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, the Juilliard String Quartet and the London Symphony?

They've all had performances produced by Adam Abeshouse, one of the world's most celebrated sound engineers.

This extraordinary experience was made possible by a two-day residence that Abeshouse, who has won Grammy Awards for Classical Producer of the Year and for Best Classical Instrumental Solo Performance, completed Friday evening in the Arthur Zankel Music Center. Setting up his equipment in the Beckerman Ensemble Rehearsal Hall -- directly adjacent to the Helen Filene Ladd Concert Hall, where four student groups performed -- he punched commands into his keyboard, scanned his monitors, coached the students, and described the intricacies of his art to dozens in the community who came to observe. It was in itself a virtuoso performance that gave both performers and observers a deeper understanding of the complexities of the recording process.

“On the early takes, what you want to do is just have fun," he counseled Heather Zhang '15 and Sasha Zabludoff '15, whom he would record peforming Francis Poulenc's Sonata for Piano for Four Hands. "I want the spontaneity and the joy of your playing together. Why else would you do this? You might as well be a banker. Always go for the sound that you really want. I want you to live on the edge, as though you’re falling off the cliff because you’re so desperate to make that beautiful sound – that singing sound that we’re all after. In the process of doing that, you’re going to make mistakes. I don’t care. I’ll keep track of that. Just go out there and have a good time and then we’ll fix all the little details later."

"OK," he clapped. “Let’s go make some music."

                                                                                                                                                             (Photographs by Phil Scalia)