Shrunk Expand


David’s participation in the design, construction, and operation of a state-of-the-art recording facility at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston was a rare opportunity for an industrious violin student. Yet that was only part of a four-year part-time job that gave him training and experience in the recording and sound reinforcement arts. He was already prepared with the basics, having learned in earlier years to operate, maintain, repair, and even modify recording and amplification equipment, edit and compile tape projects, and build a library of music and sound effects.

At the Conservatory, his assignments ranged from assisting in the editing of a historic five-LP set of circus music conducted by the legendary Merle Evans, to setting up and operating audio equipment for Robert Moog, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Robert Ceely, Mario Davidowski, George Russell, and many other visiting luminaries in the worlds of electronic music, musique concrète, and computers. His sound reinforcement duties helped provide support for musicians, visiting faculty, and public speakers such as Margaret Meade, Ayn Rand, John Kenneth Galbraith, Pete Seeger, John Kerry, Gloria Steinem, Jonathan Kozol, the Boston cast of Hair, and Loudon Wainwright III. He also worked with visiting productions from WGBH-FM, WGBH-TV, WNET-TV, and film crews. He was responsible for the recordings of hundreds of student recitals, ensemble and orchestral concerts and LPs, and often acted as the liaison between the audio department staff, school administration, and students.

One of David’s particularly important projects was the first recording of the New England Conservatory Ragtime Ensemble, a Grammy-winning LP called The Red Back Book.” This famous LP and Gunther Schuller’s editing of the Joplin orchestrations therein were the primary inspirations for the wildly popular soundtrack for the movie The Sting.

After graduation, David pursued his musical career, but always kept a hand in recording and audio projects. In 1981 he began a 30-year association with San Francisco radio station KUSF-FM (University of San Francisco). He produced and hosted “The Ragtime Machine,” creating a new show each week for 30 years without interruption, reruns, guest hosts, or alternate hosts. That in itself is most likely a national broadcast record in any medium, yet it is only one of several programs that he produced. “The Classical Salon” and “Static Limit” are also long-running shows that were recognized for their importance and consistently high quality. Please see the project proposal that was generated from his work on “Static Limit.”

In addition to volunteering at KUSF to produce his programs, the station also employed him part-time for 17 years to maintain the broadcast facility, repair equipment, train new producers and hosts, maintain the classical music library, archive the station’s holdings, write and enforce station policy, work with vendors, provide staff support, and act as liaison with university staff, visiting production companies and dignitaries. David was the longest-serving volunteer, and producer of the longest-running show in the history of the station. “The Ragtime Machine” program recordings are now housed at the Archive of Recorded Sound at Stanford University.

Listen to the 30th Anniversary (and final episode) of The Ragtime Machine.

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