CSU, Chico News

Recording Arts Students Place Second in National Competition

Date: 04-22-2011

Kathleen McPartland
Public Affairs
Dann Sargent
Recording Arts

Five recording arts majors in the Department of Music, California State University, Chico, received the second-highest score in the 2011 Shure Fantastic Scholastic Recording Competition. Elliott Eicheldinger, Ian Davidson, Fernando Macias-Jimenez, Mitchell Bohanan and Todd Simonson worked through intersession to produce the recording that garnered them runner-up to the Grand Prize.

Teams from 10 universities, including Chico, competed. The Grand Prize winners were students from Butler University in Indianapolis, Ind. Among the other competitors were honorable-mention winner Ex'pression College for Digital Arts; the Cleveland Institute of Music; Ithaca College School of Music and Loyola Marymount University.

Chico team members were rewarded with Shure studio microphones for their own use, and the Recording Arts Program will receive thousands of dollars worth of state-of-the art recording equipment.

The competition required students to make a recording of a live ensemble with only studio microphones provided by Shure. The recording of a song from Sacramento artists The Kinzie Affair, “Everything We Whisper,” was produced, arranged and mixed by the students. Once completed, the recording was then sent to Shure to be evaluated by a panel of judges that included Grammy-winning producers and engineers.

“Professor Joe Alexander, the other advisor on the project, and I set a simple goal for this project: Bring together some of our most creative and talented students, give them access to the tools and spaces they need, inspire them to think creatively and then let them go to work,” said Dann Sargent, faculty advisor. “What the students produced together was wonderful. Not only did they record and mix the song, they also arranged and composed new unique additions, including a string interlude for the chorus and an acoustic jazz break for the center section of the song. These students worked extremely hard to produce a recording they can be proud of, and they raised the bar for their peers.”
“I would like to thank Dann Sargent and Joe Alexander for presenting us with this opportunity,” said Davidson. “It was an incredible learning experience, rich with musical experimentation (trial and error), with limited bouts of educational malarkey and/or tom-foolery. Having the studio completely to ourselves during the intersession allowed us to dig deep into each of our musical and creative potential, in turn, providing the project with the attention it needed to be a success.”

“We were able to spend a huge amount of time in the studio before, during and after winter break, so it was a great learning experience,” said Bohanan. “The band we worked with, the Kinzie Affair, included friends of Todd Simonson’s, and we chose the song because it had a lot of interesting, genre-bending characteristics. Even if we hadn’t have finished well in the competition, it would have been time well spent because of the one-of-a kind experience.”

“This has probably been the most beneficial experience in my audio engineering career. I learned more in that month of recording than I had learned in all of my schooling,” said Eicheldinger. “This is mainly because recording arts is a lot about experience (based on teachings), as well as trial and error, and we had a lot of time for trial and error. Since the competition, I feel as though all of my individual projects for classes yield to a higher sonic quality and more dense arrangements than previous semesters.”

Shure Incorporated is a consumer and professional audio-electronics corporation that designs and manufactures microphones, wireless microphone systems, headphones and other high-end audio and recording equipment.

The Department of Music’s option in recording arts provides students with intensive, hands-on instruction and experience in recording, sound reinforcement and performance audio. The Raymond Barker Recording Arts Studio was renovated in the summer of 2010 by Alexander and Sargent. As part of the renovation, they installed an API console, which brings the studio on par with other recording arts programs at larger universities.

The students will be presenting their winning recording at the 2011 Humanities and Fine Arts Symposium on Wednesday, April 27 in PAC 134. You can listen to the winning recording of “Everything We Whisper” at http://www.shure.com/idc/groups/public/@americas/documents/webassets/wav_en_fantastic_2_prize.wav