Recording engineer Bob
Attiyeh ’87 started a company that produces CDs for young classical musicians.
(Courtesy Bob Attiyeh ’87)
Attiyeh ’87 Helping young musicians make it
Convincing a major record label to sign a young classical musician has become
more difficult than it used to be, says recording engineer Bob Attiyeh ’87.
Large recording companies like RCA once used the profits from their cash cows
such as Arthur Fiedler to finance the recordings of promising new talent — but
no longer. “Gone is the time when music labels felt responsible to support
and present the next generation of musical masters,” says Attiyeh.
To fill that need, in 2005 Attiyeh founded Yarlung Records, a small recording
label in Los Angeles that produces high-quality CDs for artists beginning their
international concert careers. To raise money to support the musicians, Attiyeh
formed a nonprofit organization, Yarlung Artists, last November.
Concert artists, says Attiyeh, need quality CDs to sign for audience
members after their performances. “Without such albums, audiences and critics
seem not to take the musicians as seriously,” says Attiyeh.
“And it helps the musicians feel legitimate and that they have
made it onto the international stage.”
Yarlung Records (www.yarlungrecords.com) has released two CDs of pianist
David Fung and one of the Janaki String Trio, with Serena McKinney on violin,
Katie Kadarauch on viola, and Arnold Choi on cello. Last summer Fung played at
the prestigious Edinburgh International Festival in Scotland. In January the
Janaki String Trio made its New York debut in Carnegie’s Weill Recital
Hall. As Yarlung Artists raises more funds, Attiyeh hopes to release six to eight
CDs a year.
Securing an agent to book concerts and manage an artist’s performance
schedule is critical to developing an international career. Attiyeh and Yarlung
Artists’ board members and advisers try to interest senior agents and managers
in New York and Europe in representing his artists and booking their concerts
in halls around the world.
Before starting Yarlung Records, Attiyeh worked as a freelance recording
engineer, recording albums for Southland Opera, based in southern California,
and for composers of new music, among other projects. Yarlung is named after
a valley in Tibet where Attiyeh made some of his first recordings. There is a
Tibetan legend about the valley that holds that “for a brief moment, heaven
and earth touched in this valley,” says Attiyeh.
“For me, this intersection of the earthly and divine realm provides
a wonderful metaphor for music.”
Attiyeh takes a minimalist approach when he records musicians. Instead
of elaborate setups with many microphones and tracks, he uses just one or two
microphones as he records Yarlung artists in a concert hall in Los Angeles. This
approach, he says, produces “recordings that are much more vibrant and
real. ... It sounds much more like the musicians are sitting there in the room
playing for you directly.”
A history major at Princeton, Attiyeh has been a connoisseur of great
music since he was a young child, listening to chamber music and opera at home
and tagging along with his parents to concerts. Today he occasionally performs
as a vocalist, but his passion is discovering and recording young artists.
“It is such a pleasure to hear music at this level, even if we
can’t help everyone ... right away,” Attiyeh says. “It is a
treat to be immersed in this world of music.”