UW-Eau Claire has never had access to a recording studio before and has never had anything close to a recording arts program. Today, not only does Eau Claire have just that, but we now have a brand-new recording studio, the Pablo Center at the Confluence performance venue, and a recording arts program and internship.
The new Recording Arts Certificate is an interdisciplinary curriculum that addresses diverse interests in both sound and technology. The curriculum offers a foundation in musicianship, design, and recording technology, and opportunities for students to pursue specific interests in areas of composition, design, music history, physics of sound or business.
This exciting opportunity has intrigued several students to the point where the beginning class capacity filled in not weeks or days, but hours. Two of those students are graduating seniors Nicole Johnson, originally from Chippewa Falls, and Thomas Lahren, from Wausau. Not only are these musical seniors a part of this up-and-coming certificate, but they also were the first to be chosen as Recording Arts interns in the Pablo recording studio.
“We were recording with some students, mixing those tracks, and getting a lot of feedback,” says Nicole, discussing the day in the life as a Recording Arts intern. “Now, we are looking to do some mix practicing with tracks online and learning more about the technical side to studio recording with Lena Sutter.”
Audio engineer Lena Sutter suddenly found herself at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire this past November, ready to continue making her mark on the recording arts. “Things just kept getting bigger and better,” Lena says. She is currently working as a sound engineer, managing the brand-new recording studio at the Pablo and Confluence Center. In addition to maintaining the studio, she records student and faculty projects, teaches the Sound Technology class, and works with Nicole, Thomas, and other interns in the studio.
“I have found it incredibly valuable to work with someone who has such a deep well of knowledge about audio and is able to share that knowledge in a really practical way,” said Thomas. “Not to mention she's also very professional and personable.”
“What I will take away from Lena and this internship is that recording is more about trial and error than needing to know the complete ins-and-outs of recording,” Nicole added. “Lena taught us about the technical and creative aspects while encouraging us to play around and make mistakes using the knowledge we understand.”
After her many accomplishments and experiences, including the Recording Arts internship, Nicole plans to stay in town to be a part of the “arts renaissance” of Eau Claire. “I don't see myself leaving anytime soon,” she stated. “As I watched the Pablo Center be built from the dirt, I told myself that I would work there someday so that is the shiny goal for me right now.”
Thomas’s current plan is to pursue a career as a composer, with an emphasis on writing music for films, sticking around Eau Claire to work, write, and consider graduate degree options. “I feel I've learned the importance of having a combination of great interpersonal and technical skills, especially as someone going into freelance work,” he explained. “In the world of music, if it's between you and someone else for a gig, and you've got a reputation of being bad to work with, they're going to go with another person, no matter how good you think you are.”
“If I were to put the lessons I've learned these past 5 years into one sentence it would be this: we always have a little bit more to give to get closer to the best version of yourself every day,” says Nicole. And, thankfully, the Recording Arts internship helped her and Thomas in the journey of doing just that.