Berklee Today

Berklee Beat:
Stern and Chattaway Residencies Give "Otherworldly" Perspective

During the fall semester, Writing Division Dean Joseph Smith invited two very different and accomplished contemporary composers, Leni Stern '80 and Jay Chattaway, to Boston for artist residencies that left a definite impact on students.

Trekkies for a Day: Composer Jay Chattaway (center) flanked by students (left to right) Brian Simmons, Aiko Fukushima, Christopher Dierks, and Michael Goodenow at the conclusion of a mock "Star Trek" scoring session in the Berklee Performance Center
Photo by Justin Allardyce Knight

Guitarist/composer Stern, called "one of the most original jazz guitar composers of her time" by National Public Radio, has released a dozen solo albums and worked with some of the top players in jazz. She has received the Gibson Award for Best Female Guitarist three times and is the owner of her own label, LSR Recordings.

Drawing on her skills as a composer, singer, and guitarist, Stern mentored four students (Debbie Little, Julie Schreiber, Eunice Sim, and Aiko Fukushima) during November 2000. The students met weekly with Stern to polish their melodies and lyrics, develop arrangements, and finally record the finished songs. Joining them in the recording studio was Stern's producer George Whitty '82. During her time on campus, Stern also spoke with music business students about the intricacies of owning and operating an independent record label.

Prolific film and television composer Jay Chattaway was also on campus in October and November. Chattaway has scored 26 feature films and served as composer for the last four seasons of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," all seven seasons of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," and the pilot and all seven seasons of "Star Trek: Voyager." He has earned eight Emmy nominations, and four Grammy nominations and has recorded four gold albums.

In classes, lectures, and recording sessions, Chattaway discussed the many issues and techniques related to a successful career in film scoring. On the last day of Chattaway's residency, four top film scoring students, Brian Simmons, Aiko Fukushima, Christopher Dierks, and Michael Goodenow, experienced what a day in the life of a composer like Chattaway involves. Each student was given the assignment to compose and record music for an episode of "Star Trek." The recording session took place on the stage of the Berklee Performance Center, where a student orchestra performed the music of the composers as a scene from "Star Trek" was projected on a screen behind them.

At the conclusion of the sessions, the student composers received a critique by Chattaway who shared technical tips and his impressions on how their music matched the emotion of the scenes.

Both residencies provided the students with invaluable instruction from a top artist in the field, some real-world experience, and a recording to add to their portfolios.