When I arrived at London’s Heathrow Airport in June of 2008, I had no idea what I was going to find. I was in London for the summer to try to scout out a field site, make some contacts, and conduct some preliminary observations and interviews in preparation for my proper dissertation fieldwork the following year. Of course, at that moment, I was embarking on a life-changing journey during which I would meet some amazing people, hear some beautiful music, and learn a great deal about how classical music records get made.
I can’t recall exactly how this project came to me. These days, I like to joke that since my grandfather was a butcher, I’ve always liked to know how the sausage gets made. Indeed, while I have the greatest respect for all of the musicians whose recording sessions I observed, I am inevitably drawn to the people whose names don’t appear on the front of the record (and sometimes not even on the back), but whose creative contributions are absolutely essential to every single one of the classical records we love: the producers, engineers, production assistants, language coaches, tape operators, record label administrators, and so many others. (Even the slightly creepy worker at the Crypt Cafe who took a somewhat odd interest in me and my research during that summer of 2008.)
The pages of this website will, over time, be filled with stories from my research in Britain’s classical music industry. I created this site because I want these stories to be heard and I want the names of these remarkable individuals to be known. I have spent years in awe of their creativity, musicality, and humility, and I want to share my own awe with others. These people were so kind to me during my research, letting me tag along to recording sessions, answering all of my naive questions, gracefully putting up with the presence of one more hot body in a far-too-small control room. I can never repay them the debt I owe; I can only try to tell these stories in a way that does justice to their talents.
I hope you’ll poke around this website and maybe keep up with the stories as I add them. A good place to start might be here, where I explain the source of the site’s name, and then either visit the Posts page (where posts will appear in reverse chronological order) or explore the categories on the right. When possible, I’ll also link to recordings for you to listen to or purchase (although sometimes, for reasons that will be clear, I’m not able to do so). Please enjoy this site and do what you can to keep good music alive and well in your own community.