Boston, You’re My Home

Alumni of note who chose to launch their careers in Boston rather than in L.A., New York, or Nashville

Boston has a national reputation as the home to great sports teams, top medical facilities, and high-tech companies. But Boston is also an outstanding music town due to the number of students who come here to study music and then put down roots after graduating. While the major music industry opportunities in Beantown don’t rival those found in America’s three major music hubs, many Massachusetts-based musicians have established great careers doing the kind of work they want.

Live from Boston

Brad Hatfield '75 and Gaye Tolan Hatfield '82

Associate professor Brad Hatfield ’75 and his wife, professor Gaye Tolan Hatfield ’82, have developed diverse careers that enable them to teach and to perform and write music for some high-profile clients. And while they frequently work for TV and movie productions based in Los Angeles, they’re firmly rooted in the Boston area. At the end of each workday they return to the peace of their lakefront home north of Boston.

Brad teaches for Berklee’s songwriting department and Gaye is a member of the Ear Training faculty. Both also teach courses for Berklee Online. Gaye co-authored and teaches the “Music Foundations” online course. Brad authored and teaches “Music Supervision,” which was named the best online course of 2012 by the University Professional and Continuing Education Association.

Their ties to Hollywood have offered great opportunities to create music for TV and film. The Hatfields were recently nominated for a 2017 Daytime Emmy for their work as part of the team writing music for The Young and the Restless. Brad won an Emmy in 2006 for a song he cowrote with Michael Kisur for the same show. On the Hatfields’ collective résumé are music credits for C.S.I., The Good Wife, Saturday Night Live, Rescue Me, and The Sopranos, to name a few. They have contributed cues to such films as Iron Man 2, Dear John, and Borat, among others. Also, Brad’s solo piano flows under the opening scene and end credits of Clint Eastwood’s film Mystic River.

Brad has been writing orchestrations for the Boston Pops Orchestra since the late 1980s. He also appears regularly with the Pops playing keyboards for the group’s nationally televised July 4 concert from the Esplanade. Gaye penned a choral arrangement that was performed during one esplanade show. All of their work has developed from their Boston network.

Gaye grew up in Scituate, MA, and after high school, enrolled at Crane School of Music as a classical saxophone principal and music education major. She later rethought her career plans. “I transferred to Berklee and started playing other styles of music,” she says. “I majored in commercial arranging. After graduating, I wasn’t ready to jump into the workforce as an arranger, but I started doing my own arrangements to play at wedding gigs.”

The couple met in the eighties when Brad was looking for a singer for his general business band, Gaye auditioned. He was impressed with her singing and woodwind playing and that she had a book of her own charts. They began working together and married a few years later.

Gaye joined the Berklee faculty in 1992. “I had played some gigs with Greg Badolato, who was chair of Ear Training at that time,” she recalls. “He was instrumental in bringing me to the faculty. I started out teaching ear training and ensembles.”

Brad grew up in Columbus, OH, and was considering going to Indiana University after high school. His brother Mike Hatfield ’75 was attending Berklee. After Brad paid him a visit there, he also opted for Berklee. He later formed a pop cover group that played gigs all over the country. “The band was pretty much all Berklee alumni,” he recalls. He later discovered that knowing hundreds pop songs had benefits beyond a weekly paycheck. “With the Boston Pops, I’ve gotten to play some of those songs with the original artists: the Pointer Sisters, James Taylor, and Aretha Franklin,” Brad says. “I already knew the tunes.”

 Brad’s Boston roots began growing deeper after he began touring and recording with the jazz composer George Russell and his Living Time Orchestra in the late 1980s. Also in the group was percussionist Pat Hollenback, who also worked with the Boston Pops Orchestra. “Pat had observed me making it through George’s complex music,” Brad says, “and told me that the Pops had an upcoming recording session with John Williams and they needed a synthesizer player for a really hard piece of music. I made it through that session and Pat got me playing synthesizer for the Boston Pops July fourth concert.” Ever since, Brad has played with the Pops and arranged orchestrated music for the group.

When opportunities in film and TV music began coming up, the Hatfields considered moving to L.A. “Most of my family lives around here, so we wanted to stay near Boston,” adds Gaye. Their teaching at Berklee, work for the Boston Pops, and other gigs also tipped the sales in favor of Beantown. “Those are Boston-centric jobs,” says Brad. “We needed to be here to do that work.”

Serendipitously, a student in Brad’s online course opened even more doors in TV music. “Three years ago I had a student named RC Cates who seemed to know music supervision pretty well,” says Brad. “Then I found out that he had 11 Daytime Emmy Awards! He was between shows and took the class to learn more about all aspects of licensing. After that term, he became the music supervisor for The Young and the Restless and asked if Gaye and I would like to write for the show. Our income stream has tilted because of this opportunity.”  

“Generally we are told what style of music the show needs,” Gaye says. “We will write maybe nine tunes for each session about three times per year.” “We record a variety of approaches to each tune,” Brad says. “We might cut it once with a vocalist or instrumental soloist and then do another version for solo piano or piano trio with another tempo or vibe. So these eight or nine tunes can end up as 40 different mixes.”

The Hatfields advise those wanting to build a career in Boston to connect with people who are already connected. “There are a lot of people doing cool things here —lots of opportunities,” Brad says.

Those watching the Boston Pops in this year’s July 4 broadcast can spot Brad playing live from Boston.

The Mind Can Change; the Heart Remains the Same 

It’s a late spring day and overcast outdoors in Eastham on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Inside the Gathering Place at Eastham’s senior center, music therapist Brianna LePage ’01 leads about a dozen senior citizens from the guitar and piano in songs that range from old-time numbers such as “Bicycle Built for Two” to classic rock tunes like “Dust in the Wind.” LePage’s enthusiasm radiates to the clients and those who at the beginning of the session were staring blankly at her, start to participate. LePage conducts hour-long music therapy sessions daily in addition to other initiatives that brighten the lives of her patrons.

As the program director at the Gathering Place, she wears many hats. “I oversee all the programs and run the entire day center,” she tells me once the singing session is over. “I make the people breakfast when they arrive here in the morning and later I make them lunch. We do programs all day long here.”

LePage brings a special warmth and compassion to her work with the geriatric population. It appears to be more of a calling than a job for her, and music and other arts are central to the services she renders.

LePage started out as a classical violinist. She earned a bachelor’s degree in performance from Hartt School of music at the University of Connecticut before coming to Berklee to pursue music therapy. Her love for music and her appreciation of senior citizens both began when she was growing up in Provincetown at the very tip of Cape Cod.

“When I was three, I started playing my violin at local nursing homes,” she explains. “That’s when I first saw how music touched people. After I got my performance degree, I felt there was something missing. I loved playing in orchestras, but felt that I’d rather be right in front of someone playing the music directly to them and feeling a connection. I wanted to feel like I was helping people in some way.”

LePage’s mother told her of an article she’d read about professor Suzanne Hanser, the founding chair of Berklee’s Music Therapy Department. “When I read it and learned that she had studied about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, I really wanted to go to Berklee,” LePage says. “After I met Dr. Hanser, I knew this field was what I wanted to go into.” She dove deep in her Berklee studies with Hanser, professor Karen Wacks, and others. Her 2001 internship at Beth Abraham Health Services in Bronx, NY, brought her into the orbit of Connie Tomaino and the late Oliver Sachs, both giants in the field. She later worked at Kings Harbor Multicare Center while her husband completed trumpet studies at Juilliard. They returned to Massachusetts in 2005.

“I wanted to bring the tools I’d gotten and my artistic skills back to the Cape to share with people here,” LePage says. She worked at various Cape Cod–area facilities and as a freelancer until coming to the Gathering Place in 2013. The sensitivity LePage brings to her work imbues the place with a family feel.

LePage and the staff don’t administer medical care to their patrons. Everyone has to have a certain level of independence to attend the day programs. But staff members do provide beneficial treatment. “In the early stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia, music can help people get past something,” she says. “If someone is really upset or very confused, music is like electrical tape. When the brain is short circuiting, it can stop that from happening and help someone click into a moment that’s more clear. These moments may seem brief to us, but they could feel like a lifetime to that person.”

LePage has penned five brief books about her interactions with clients, musings on music, and spiritual thoughts. She feels that for people with dementia, the mind may change but the heart remains the same. “We can still care for and help these people,” she says. “I feel like my generation forgets sometimes how much our grandparent’s generation has given us. I want to give them back a little something each day. And they bring us gifts from having been a mother, a teacher, or a member of the Armed Services that bought us our rights and freedom. I like to say thank you to them and repay them by playing music that they love. Having these people leave here with a smile on their faces is what I want.”

From Boston to the World

Robin Moore ’93 has worked as an audio engineer for 25 years. For 19 of those years, she has been a staff engineer for the Boston public radio station WGBH.  She regularly mixes and edits news packages for The World news programs produced by WGBH and distributed nationally, and records and mixes other programing, including live performances from the WGBH’s Fraser Performance Studio. Moore also operates her own company, Dangerzone Productions, and takes on diverse projects from tracking orchestral sessions for the video games Final Fantasy XV and Mages of Mystralia to on-location live classical recording for the Chorus of Westerly to live recordings for jazz saxophonist David Liebman, among others.

Growing up in the Boston area, Moore played piano from a young age. “I liked electronics and was into gear,” she says. “I purchased synthesizers and got my first multitrack recorder when I was 17.”  She also showed an aptitude for science and math, and decided to attend Brown University in Providence, RI, after high school and major in electrical engineering. But in her second year, she felt the need to feed her creative sensibilities.

“I wanted to do something less technical and audio engineering seemed like a happy middle ground,” Moore shares. She took a leave of absence from Brown and came to Berklee to study studio engineering. “I intended to stay just for a semester, but I fell in love with MP&E,” she says. Her engineering background enabled her to jump into the most challenging classes in the program. By loading her schedule, she completed all of the MP&E coursework in three consecutive semesters. Ultimately, she transferred those credits to Brown to complete her electrical engineering degree.

In 1993, she did an internship at WGBH, a connection that would later open doors for her. During her final semesters at Brown, Moore became an on-air radio personality for Kix 106 in Providence and worked as a deep house DJ in Rhode Island nightclubs and as a guest DJ in cities along the eastern seaboard and in Switzerland. While searching out her career path, Moore also tried her hand at software programming at RI SoftSystems, Woonsocket, RI. “I left that job after a year because it took me too far away from my passion for audio and music,” she says. She made her living through a handful of freelance jobs, including designing nightclub sound systems and doing DJ technology research for the Numark and Alesis corporations.

A Brown University schoolmate, Donald Wood (aka “Cleveland Allen”), began creating dance remixes for labels such as Epic and Motown Records and brought Moore in as his engineer for several projects in New York’s top studios. The experience solidified her determination to base her in career in Boston.

“I didn’t like the traditional model of how you rise up through the internship process to become a staff engineer at a big studio,” she says. “I didn’t have the patience for getting people coffee and cleaning toilets, but I have respect for those who have taken that route. So I had no drive to increase my studio options by going to live in New York, Los Angeles, or Nashville.” 

In 1998, Moore hit a dry spell with her New England freelance work and made a call to WGBH. Serendipitously, one of its part-time engineers was leaving. Moore was a known commodity to the WBGH staff and got the position. “They needed an uplink radio engineer to be responsible for the distribution of The World program, which is a coproduction by Public Radio International, WGBH, and the BBC,” she says.

“The show goes to 300 station nationwide through the National Public Radio network via satellite six times a day so local markets in various time zones can take whichever feed is appropriate for them. My job is to make sure it goes up successfully and to solve any problems that might arise.” Before that step, Moore mixes live introductions by the show’s host along with the packages that have been preproduced, and edits and cuts music segments for transitions and station breaks. She also does sound restoration of audio captured by reporters in the field with handheld recorders.

Moore also engineers popular WGBH programs such as A Celtic Sojourn with host Brian O’Donovan and Classical Performances; live-to-air concert performances. She is the recording, mix, and mastering engineer for Front Row Boston, featuring folk and rock bands playing live in WGBH’s studio, and In-Studio Jazz 24/7, a show that goes live to Facebook.

As for future ambitions, Moore enjoyed recent sessions recording orchestral tracks for video game scores and audio for video productions and looks forward to more work in those areas. “Video is challenging,” she says. “It’s crucial to capture everything because if someone is playing something in a shot and the sound isn’t there, it really sticks out. You have to raise the bar with video to make sure the audio matches it. When I’m working with exceptional players and people who pay attention to the details, this work is very satisfying to me.”

Moore, who is married and has a five-year-old daughter, has found in Boston a balance between home and professional life. A staff engineering position with a union contract that provides benefits and the freedom to take freelance work is for her an ideal situation.

Where He Needed and Wanted to Be

Gunter Schroder  ’00 recalls a tearful farewell when he left his family and friends in South Africa to come to Berklee in 1997. “I remember crying at the airport saying goodbye to everyone,” Schroder says. “I had a girlfriend and was in a band that was starting to break in South Africa, so it was a big decision to give all that up and come here. I didn’t know what to expect going to a new country.”

Two decades have passed, and Schroder is flourishing in America—more specifically in the Boston area. In April, he was named vice president of the international booking division at the Ted Kurland Agency in Allston, MA. One of the top boutique booking and management firms in the United States, TKA currently represents artists such as Pat Metheny, Chick Corea, Wynton Marsalis, The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and Béla Fleck among others.

Growing up in Pretoria, South Africa, Schroder was surrounded by music. His father, Robert Schroder, is a producer who has worked with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, pop act Mango Groove, and traditional African musicians. He’s also an award-winning jingle writer and has done work for Mercedes Benz, Coca Cola and other major companies. Gunter spent lots of time in his dad’s studio and played piano, drums, and guitar as a youth. He declared drums as his principal instrument at Berklee.

“I liked being behind the kit rather than up front onstage,” he says. “A drummer is behind the scenes and that set me up for what I’d do later in life.” Schroder started as music therapy major at Berklee but later pursued a dual major in songwriting and music business/management.

As an international student, after graduation Schroder had one year to build his résumé to the point where he could secure a work visa to permit him to continue working and living in America. “I’d fallen in love with the States and wanted to make this country my home,” Schroder says. “I took internships and a management company, a publicity firm, and a booking agency, all aspects of the music business. I didn’t want to go to New York or Los Angeles because I loved Boston. I started calling every company I could think of to get a job.”

He was hired by an agency booking general business bands. To prove his worth, he helped redesign the company’s website. He also got the company to branch out into managing bands doing original music. They signed some acts and Schroder organized a successful showcase for their best bands at the Somerville Theater. He rallied personnel from rock radio stations, music vendors, and others to attend the company’s first successful showcase. Shortly thereafter, he heard of an opening at Ted Kurland Agency and accepted a position as a receptionist.

“I was qualified to do more than that, but I knew this was a path I needed to follow,” Schroder recounts. “I started that job in 2002 and did it for two years.” He also undertook setting up the company’s media library so clients could access Kurland’s system and listen to whatever artist’s music they were interested in. “I was trying to come with new ideas for the company rather than just sitting there answering the phone,” Schroder says. “I wasn’t doing it to impress them, it was my internal drive.”

In 2004 he became Ted Kurland’s executive assistant and two years later he became a European agent. He has continually proven that he was ready to handle more responsibility. Today 15 years after joining the firm, Schroder is its fourth most senior employee.

“I’m very pleased with the VP position,” he says. “I am responsible for booking the European market as well as North and South Africa, the Middle East, and Israel. Another agent books Asia, South America, and Australia. My goal is to oversee the international side of things to show that our clients are getting booked in those territories and progressing in those markets. On average, I book between 250 and 300 shows a year in Europe for our roster.” Schroder recently booked Pat Metheny for a fall concert in Iceland, the Grammy-winning guitarist’s first appearance in that country.

“All of my friends went to New York or L.A. and said I should go with them,” he says. “But I love Boston, it’s the most amazing city. I feel that I’m where I need and want to be. I had to create my own scene in Boston. I was pretty reserved when I got here, Berklee gave me my voice.”

Since he is in the neighborhood, Schroder periodically comes to campus to present masterclasses for the music business/management department at the invitation of Don Gorder and Jeff Dorenfeld. His advice to current Berklee students is: “Keep an open mind and do as much as you can. Don’t doubt yourself and continue to set goals.”