Despite the typical California sunshine that makes the winter months in Los Angeles so enjoyable, some dark clouds have emerged on the economic front. Everyone is affected in some way, and the timing is tough for recent grads beginning their job search. Staying connected is key.
And with the economic downturn in mind, it was great to see such a huge turnout at our annual Los Angeles Alumni Brunch in January. More than 250 alumni attended the event in Santa Monica, and the room was full of energy and conversation. In his address to the crowd, President Roger Brown gave an overview of the college’s plans for the future. Networking was the theme of the day, and the event was a great success.
In late January, Berklee faculty songwriting guru Pat Pattison presented the master class “Rewriting Your Song” at Sanctum Sound Studios in West Los Angeles Pattison was joined by Grammy-nominated songwriter Steve Seskin (Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney) as they used alumni song submissions to demonstrate how to solve the small imperfections that distract the listener and let the air escape from a song’s tires. This session was held in one of Sanctum’s tracking rooms, an ideal setting for this kind of event.
Sanctum Sound Studios may be familiar to readers who know of the Boston location. Alumni Leo Mellace ’91 and Steve Catizone ’94 recently expanded operations to the West Coast, and their Los Angeles facility was featured in the February issue of Mix magazine. Since opening their new studios Mellace and Catizone have taken on interesting projects, such as a recording by Israeli-born songwriting and recording artist Ma’ayan Castel ’04. Her new EP is entitled Walk on Water, and her touring schedule included a performance at the Berklee/Heavy Rotation Records party at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. For more information on Castel, visit www.myspace.com/maayancastel. To learn more about Sanctum, check out www.sanctumsound.com.
In late February, WesFest 4 proved to be the most successful West Coast-based fundraiser to date. This was an evening of celebration and great music. (To read more about the event, see page 4 of this issue.) Special kudos go to the alumni who contributed their considerable talents onstage, including Bryan Beller ’92, Kira Small ’93, Griff Peters ’93, Lance Konnerth ’93, Mark Flynn ’93, Colin Keenan ’93, Theresa Flaminio ’08, Kurt Ozan, Chris Broome ’08, Scot Gilman ’80, Kristian Habenicht ’05, Melinda Colaizzi ’04, Andrea Whaley ’04, Major “Choir Boy” Johnson ’06, and Danny Morris. Thanks to the performers for making WesFest 4 such a memorable event.
Known as the Green Room, a new series of alumni networking mixers began in late March at the Cat & Fiddle pub in Hollywood. Led by Los Angeles Berklee Alumni Chapter Coordinator Justine Taormino ’06, these events are great opportunities for alumni to meet, greet, chill, and chat. If you’re new to Los Angeles, check out the Green Room.
Amanda Mosher ’97 released her much anticipated album Everything You Need on April 7. She won a 2006 L.A. Music Award in the Rock Single of the Year category for her song “Mr. Maddness.” Good luck with the new disc Manda.
In the world of production, Mike Baiardi ’96 co-wrote and produced a tune for the indie movie Sunshine Cleaning (Alan Arkin, Amy Adams). The tune “Intro (Stay Here)” is featured in the film and on the soundtrack. Baiardi’s remix of the Jay Z tune “99 Problems” is featured in the upcoming remake of the movie The Taking of Pelham 123. Baiardi also worked with RZA (Wu-Tang Clan and Kill Bill soundtrack) on the score to the Japanese animated movie Afro Samurai: Resurrection (Samuel L. Jackson, Lucy Liu).
The soundtrack to the 2008 hit indie film Juno was mixed by Oren Hadar ’02 and was nominated for a Grammy in the Compilation Soundtrack category. The soundtrack has hit number one on the Billboard charts and is approaching platinum-level sales.
Among this year’s Grammy winners was mastering engineer Gavin Lurssen ’91 for his work on Album of the Year Raising Sand by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. This was Lurssen’s third win following honors for his work on the 2002 Album of the Year O Brother, Where Art Thou? and the 2004 Historical Album Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues.
The Fox Network has ordered two more seasons of the animated comedy The Simpsons. This fall the show will begin its 21st season, and Alf Clausen ’66 will mark his 20th season as the show’s composer. It’s a remarkable achievement, not only in terms of Clausen’s longevity but also because he uses a live orchestra, despite their rarity in television music.
That’s all for now. Stay in touch.
—Peter Gordon ’78
Director, Berklee Center in Los Angeles