NB Summer Music Festival 20th Anniversary Artist profile: Jeremy VanSlyke

Jeremy VanSlyke
Jeremy VanSlyke

As part of their 20th Anniversary celebrations the New Brunswick Summer Music Festival is featuring interviews of artists and others who have a history of being involved in the festival over the past 20 years.

Below is an excerpt from their interview with Jeremy VanSlyke as recorded by their Classical Correspondent, Erin Bowlen.

EB: You’ve taken part in the NB Summer Music Festival for a number of years now. When did you first participate in the NB Summer Music Festival, and what made you want to get involved with the festival in the first place?

JVS:  I was first introduced to the NB Summer Music Festival through my participation in the UNB Summer Music Camp. I first took part in this camp as a young violinist in 1997. I continued to attend the camp and the festival almost every year. I also remember having master classes on piano and violin with some of the performers as part of the festival.

Later on, I took on volunteer roles helping as a stage-hand and handing out programs and gave performances on piano and played violin with the orchestra in the “Concert in the Park.” Most recently, I’ve worked as the festival’s recording engineer since 2010. I produce recordings of the four main stage concerts for archival purposes. These recordings are an important tool that the organizers use to apply for grants and funding, which support the festival in the future.

EB: So Jeremy, I see from your website that you are a recording engineer and producer. Would you like to explain to our followers what exactly the role of a recording engineer and producer entails?

JVS: I first became interested in recording in high school. In 2005, I was the winner of the Radio-Canada Young Artist competition and was invited to spend two days making a piano recording with a producer and an engineer in Moncton, NB. This experience inspired me to pursue the producer role as a career.

Producers work with the artists to ensure that the performer’s execution of tempo, pitch and interpretation meet the highest possible standards, while engineers work with microphones and sound processing equipment to capture the best possible sound of the performance. Both roles require careful listening, creativity, and artistic vision. There are times when the roles of producers and engineers are quite separate. More and more, however, these two roles are being accomplished by a single individual.

In my recent sound recording studies at McGill University, my training was modelled on the European “tonmeister”. The tonmeister is a highly trained musician who also has the listening skills and technical expertise to make the finest possible recordings. We learn to hear subtle differences such as when a microphone is moved only a few centimetres. As musicians, our sensitivity to performance anxiety and stamina helps build trust between the artists (performers) and the producer.

EB: Do you have a favourite memory or story you’d like to share with us from one of the NB Summer Music Festivals you’ve taken part in?

JVS: One of the things that I frequently hear in New Brunswick is that there aren’t enough opportunities. Many artists move to larger cities in Canada or the USA to pursue professional careers. However, I have had many wonderful opportunities to work in the province with top-notch artists. For instance, it was really great to work with Andrew Wan, concertmaster of the Montreal Symphony, during the festival in 2011. He is an amazing performer and a warm human being. As a young recording engineer in Montreal, the opportunity to work with such an artist would surely go to a “bigger fish.” The Maritimes can be a wonderful place to build a career and with internet and social media, there is nothing holding our local artists back from competing on the national and international stage.

EB: How do you feel that your participation in the NB Summer Music Festival has benefited you as a musician/ producer/ recording engineer?

JVS: Participating in the NB Summer Music Festival has been a terrific experience for me. The opportunity to be mentored by and work with high calibre artists in my hometown is a wonderful thing. I am always excited to share the recordings I have made in Fredericton with my classmates and colleagues in Montreal. They are always impressed that a comparatively small venue can host such a high quality event year after year. We are privileged to have this festival and I have certainly grown a great deal professionally from my experiences here.

To read the complete interview, please follow the NB Summer Music Festival on Facebook.

The New Brunswick Summer Music Festival is a professional classical chamber music festival now in its second decade. Their mission is to present the finest in classical chamber music to Atlantic Region audiences. They do this by specifically featuring top Canadian talent in concert with established regional performers.

Their focus is to present the music of two specific composers each season, one well known and one less so. They are the only chamber music festival in Canada that uses this two-composer concept to determine repertoire.

The festival has featured some of the best chamber musicians in Canada. In addition to attracting high calibre Canadian performers, the festival is committed to incorporating local and regional artists into the festival concerts.

The 2013 NB Summer Music Festival happens August 12 – 24 in Fredericton.