Berklee Today

Alum Notes: L.A. Newsbriefs

Distinguished alumni awards were presented to film composer Richard Gibbs '77 and songwriter Tom Snow '69 in February.
Photos by Lester Cohen

Let me begin with a quick recap of the alumni brunch, held in early February. The alumni in attendance represented a span of four decades--an impressive showing at this always-popular event. This year, distinguished alumni awards were presented to renowned songwriter Tom Snow '69 and prominent film scorer Richard Gibbs '77, both of whom delivered memorable acceptance speeches.

In late March, an alumni educational event, entitled Focus on Home Recording, was held at Westlake Audio in Hollywood. This was a panel discussion moderated and coordinated by John Conard '81, sales manager at Westlake. The impressive roster of panelists included various product specialists, recording engineers, a sound designer, a songwriter/producer, and Nick Batzdorf '81, editor of the magazine Recording. The discussion focused on how, with digital recording technology becoming both more affordable and accessible, home recording has become increasingly sophisticated and is now regarded as mainstream. The panelists agreed that, when planning a home studio and making choices regarding equipment, there needs to be a clear vision as to the usage of the studio as well as the available budget. The point was also made that, given the fact that new equipment can often be frustrating to operate, buying from an established dealer is a good idea. It can create a relationship that can provide troubleshooting assistance and increased efficiency. While it is tempting to search for the bargain prices in any equipment purchase, this strategy is short-sighted and likely to provide little after-sales support.

As for other alums in the news, Mindi Abair '91 has been touring for the past year with the Backstreet Boys playing sax, keyboards, and percussion. Benny Faccone '98 won a Grammy Award for his recording and mixing work on Santana's Supernatural album. His credits also include work on all of Ricky Martin's albums, and recording and mixing the new Julio Iglesias album and the popular MTV album Mana Unplugged. Cathy Segal-Garcia '74 has developed a successful series of clinics as part of her School of Vocal Performance. These clinics deal with a variety of topics and performance techniques for the vocalist. Cathy can be reached at <>.

Renowned drummer Peter Donald '70 has been leading a trio entitled Prime that includes Abe Laboriel, Sr. '72 on bass and Tom Ranier on piano. Recent gigs include opening for Poncho Sanchez, Carmen Lundy, and Terence Blanchard. Saxophonist Jason Goldman '98 and bassist Bill Mohler '96 are members of the current Monk Institute Ensemble. This group tours regularly and recently performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival. Ken Van Druten '92 has been front-of-house mixer for Kiss on the band's current world tour. Cheche Alara '94 has been touring with Christina Aguilera. Recent appearances include NBC's "Saturday Night Live," "The Rosie O'Donnell Show," and VH1's "Men Strike Back/Divas Live." Keyboardist Atli Orvarsson '98 is playing with Sony recording artist Jessica Simpson.

Alumni attending the February brunch in Los Angeles included (from the left) Michael Bell '92, Chris Tobey '67, David Kowal '75, Chris Klatman '80 (behind), Sharon Farber '97, Richard Gibbs '77, Kevin Kliesch '92, Philip Giffin '75, and Scott Breadman '75.

In the world of film and TV music, Jan Stevens '81 composed the theme for, and has been scoring the CBS show "Grapevine." Also involved in recording that music were Abe Laboriel '72, Nick Lane '76, and Terry Wollman '80. Tanya Hill '95, working at Segue Music, served as music editor for the upcoming movies Bless the Child (starring Kim Bassinger) and Angels in the Infield (produced by Disney). Scott Gershin '84 recently won a Golden Reel Award for his work as supervising sound designer on the widely acclaimed movie American Beauty. This movie also earned him a nomination for a BAFTA Award, the British counterpart to the Oscars. Randy Miller '77 scored the movie Family Tree (starring Cliff Robertson and Robert Forster) and the independent documentary Amargosa. Nicholas Pike '76 scored Return to Me, starring Minnie Driver and David Duchovny. Richard Gibbs '77 served as composer for the Sandra Bullock movie 28 Days. Shie Rozow '97 scored a short film titled Cumulus Nimbus, which was screened at the Cannes Film Festival.

That's it for now. Stay in touch.

Peter Gordon '78

Berklee Center in Los Angeles