Solo Recording Session – January 2015

IMG_4733From January 7th through 9th, I recorded my second solo CD, which will be called “Field Notes: Tuba Music from Iowa”, at Illinois State University in Normal, IL. We recorded there since our new University of Iowa School of Music won’t be opening until Fall 2016 and our interim facilities lack a really great recording space. I played in the ISU Center for Performing Arts Concert Hall a few years ago with the Iowa Brass Quintet and absolutely fell in love with the acoustics. On our recent recital tour leading up to this recording, Alan Huckleberry and I performed her in December of 2014 and were really happy with the sound. We did have a surprise on the first day of the recording when we discovered a recessed lighting fixture in the hall that vibrated sympathetically to loud B-flats and middle C-naturals. We incurred a delay while the problem was fixed but quickly got back on schedule by the end of the first day. We managed to keep a good pace throughout the session, averaging about an hour or recording time for every five minutes of music. Here was our schedule:

Tuesday, January 7th:
9:30 -10:30 am – Arrival, warm up and recording equipment set up.
10:45 – 11:00 am – Soundcheck
11:00 – 3:00 pm  – Delay to resolve lighting fixture buzz (Hello, Jimmy John’s?)
3:15 – 4:00 pm – Recorded I Shall Buy a Black Horse by Jerry Owen ( 3’30”)
4:15 – 7:15 – Recorded Four Paintings by Grant Wood by Barbara York (16′)

Wednesday, January 8th:
10:30 – 11:30 – Warm Up
11:30 – 1:30 – Recorded Sonata en constante evoluçion by Roberto Pintos (12′)
1:30 – 3:00 – Lunch @ Merry Ann’s
3:00 – 5:00 pm – Recorded Theme and Variations (2 tubas and piano) by Jerry Owen (8′)
5:00 – 5:30 pm – Set up and sound check for offstage portion of Intra Muros
5:30 – 7:00 pm – Recorded Intra Muros by Kate Wohlman (9′)

Thursday, January 9th:
10:30 – 11:30 am – Recorded Blue Grace by Claire Sievers (no warm up!)
11:30 – 1:00 pm – Recorded Cheese Spread by John Manning
1:30 – 2:30 – Celebratory lunch at The Rock Restaurant

Overall, the recording session went very well. Despite the intitial buzzing light fixtures, the hall and the piano sounded amazing, and Alan Huckleberry’s playing was impeccable.  The sound engineer, Andy Bove from Bove Audio, is an old friend and has recorded the last few Atlantic Brass Quintet recordings. Along with Andy Rummel, our host at ISU, they served as producers, or “tonemeisters” helping us ensure we covered everything. Andy also played tuba on the Owen trio, which we will be performing, along with Alan at the Midwestern Regional Tuba Euphonium Conference at Bowling Green State University of Ohio in May 2015. Alan and I will also perform I Think I Shall Buy a Black Horse and Four Painting by Grant Wood on that program.

There were some interesting challenges, which I kept track of:

  • I suffered from a really painful ear infection from Dec. 23 to about Jan. 3rd and didn’t play at all during that time.
  • We had below zero weather throughout the recording session, with wind chill factors around -30° F.
  • On the first day, I almost fell down a 10 ft. hill taking a short cut while walking from the parking garage to the Performing Arts Center in the bitter cold.
  • While walking along the shrubs to avoid falling down the hill, I scraped my face and after recording for about two hours, I discovered seven berries from the bush which had fallen into my tuba.

I hope to be able to announce the release of this CD on the Summit Records label later this year. I am very grateful for all of the help I had on this project and will be including these acknowledgements in the liner notes:

  • This recording was made possible with generous support from the University of Iowa’s Office of the Vice President for Research & Economic Development, the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, and the School of Music.
  • Joseph Kearney, Associate Dean for Research & Infrastructure, and the Arts
  • David Gier, Director, University of Iowa School of Music, Erich Funke Professor, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Administrative Faculty Fellow, Office of the Vice President for Research & Economic Development
  • Dr. Alan Huckleberry, Professor of piano pedagogy and collaborative arts at The University of Iowa
  • Dr. Andrew Rummel, Assistant Professor of Tuba and Euphonium at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois.
  • Andy Bove, Producer/Audio Engineer at Bove Audio.
  • Tim Schachtschneider, Auditorium Technical Director
  • Jerry Owen, composer
  • Claire Sievers, composer
  • Barbara York, composer
  • Kate Wohlman, composer
  • Roberto Pintos, composer
  • Josh Calkin, Wayne State College, Wayne NE
  • Tom Stein, University of Missouri Kansas City Conservatory
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4 Responses to Solo Recording Session – January 2015

  1. Laura says:

    Well done! I look forward to hearing the CD. I like your idea of keeping track of challenges. Interestingly, we were in the studio during the same week, so we shared some of those challenges – below zero weather, for sure! Also, construction next to the studio… Anyway – cheers, John!

  2. Steve Marcus says:


    Congratulations on your completion of what you have described as a very gratifying recording project.

    Which pieces were performed on F tuba and which, if any, were performed on CC?

    Thanks very much.

    • John Manning says:

      Steve, Thank you. I really enjoy playing, commissioning and recording new music that is beyond the typical repertoire. I played F tuba on all of the pieces on this recording, as I usually do for solo recitals. I use my C tuba exclusively in brass quintet.

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