Web Exclusives: Alumni Spotlight

April 4, 2007:


Recording engineer Bob Attiyeh ’87 started a company that produces CDs for young classical musicians.

(Courtesy Bob Attiyeh ’87)

PROFILE—Bob 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.”P

By K.F.G.