A new recording showcases the stunning acoustics of North Central College’s Wentz Concert Hall, which is positioned to become a destination for recordings of classical, jazz and other musical styles.
The release, “Recorded Music of the African Diaspora, Vol. 3” pays tribute to noted African-American composer Florence B. Price and is available on Albany Records and Amazon.com. The recording was produced by Columbia College Chicago’s Center for Black Music Research and represents the first professional release recorded in Wentz Concert Hall.
“The performance and sound quality of the recording are outstanding,” composer Frank J. Oteri says in a review on NewMusicBox.org.
Since its opening in 2008, Wentz Concert Hall has built a stellar reputation as a state-of-the-art performing arts venue with exceedingly praised acoustics. The “African Diaspora” project was recorded in the Wentz in March, 2011. Producers found the hall’s sound exceeded expectations, and that the space is an ideal venue for recording.
“There is a lot more than the acoustics to take into consideration—such as the size and functionality of the stage and the availability of a remote room for the engineer, his equipment and the producer—that is isolated from the live sound from the stage,” said Morris Phibbs, deputy director of the Center for Black Music Research and producer of the recording.
The Wentz is equipped with closed-circuit video that Phibbs found helpful for the sound engineer to be able to view the musicians onstage as the performance was recorded. Recording engineer Eric Arunas spoke highly of the Wentz, finding appreciation for the clarity of sound, the reverberation achieved and the absence of ambient noise.
“The Wentz Concert Hall is unique in many respects from other venues I have recorded in,” Arunas said. “The hall or acoustical environment a recording is made in is as much a part of the sound of the recording as the instruments used by the ensemble.”
The performance featured a large orchestra—the Center for Black Music Research’s New Black Music Repertory Ensemble—which was accommodated on the Wentz’s large stage. The ensemble was conducted by Leslie Dunner. Throughout the process, the recording team worked with Kyle Gettelman, North Central College’s technical director and scenic studio manager, and other members of the venue staff.
“My experience with the staff at North Central was very positive,” Arunas said. “They were ready at all stages to help with any issue that came up before or during our recording sessions.”
Producers say they would recommend the Wentz for other recording projects.
“I highly recommend Wentz Concert Hall as a first choice for any serious recording project,” Arunas said. “Wonderful, warm and transparent acoustic, adjustable reverberation, isolation from extraneous noise—all are keys to creating an exceptional recording. Wentz also offers all of that in an outstanding architectural space. It is an environment that is a pleasure to work in for musicians and technical staff alike.”
Kyle Gettlemen, technical director for North Central’s theatre department, worked with the Center for Black Music Research in the Wentz during the recording, when he was the College’s technical director/scenic studio manager.
“The Wentz’s outstanding acoustics and lack of ambient noise allow the musicians to create a beautiful and high-quality sound,” Gettleman says. “For the recording engineer and technicians, the design of the room is very efficient, which allows more time to be spent recording and making music and less time setting up equipment.”