Editor’s note: Parts of this story first appeared in a Feb. 10 story in The Daily Gazette by Geraldine Freedman.
Mont Pleasant High School and SUNY Schenectady graduate Charlie Post, a sound engineer with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, won a Grammy Award Sunday for Best Engineered Album, Classical.
Post, along with David Frost and mastering engineer Silas Brown, won for Shostakovich: Symphony No. 13, “Babi Yar” by Riccardo Muti & Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Winning the Grammy Award for Classical Instrumental Solo for their recording of “Theofanidis: Concerto for Viola and Chamber Orchestra,” were violist Richard O’Neill and David Alan Miller, conducting the Albany Symphony Orchestra at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall.
Miller received a Grammy in the same category in 2014 along with percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie for their recording of John Corigliano’s Conjurer with the Albany Symphony.
Miller, who was raised in the Los Angeles area, has been ASO music director since 1992.
Two other area natives who were nominated did not win.
Schenectady native Maria Brink and her hard rock band In This Moment were nominated for Best Metal Performance with “The In-Between.” That category was won by Body Count with “Bum-Rush.”
Gregg August was nominated for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album with his work “Dialogues on Race,” but did not win. August, a bassist, is a Rotterdam native and graduate of Draper High School. He attended the University at Albany before transferring to the Eastman School of Music (Univ. of Rochester) and later The Juilliard School. “Data Lords,” by the Maria Schneider Orchestra, won the Grammy.
Post’s road to success started in Schenectady.
But for too long, he’d felt almost like being the best man and never the groom. That’s all changed now.
“I’ve had five near misses. A lot of close calls,” he said with a laugh last month after receiving his first nomination. “It feels good to get some recognition especially since I’ve been working only in classical music since 2006.”
He began his music studies at age 10 with saxophone lessons. His private sax teacher was Conrad Kushay. Around that time, Barbara Aldi, his music teacher at Lincoln Elementary School, gave him tickets to an Albany Symphony Orchestra concert — his first experience seeing a live orchestra. Later, at Mont Pleasant High School, where he graduated Class of 1990, he was in bands and choir and counts Michael Decker and Jerome Wawrzyniak as teachers who were especially supportive. He also sang in “The Entertainers” at Proctors in a group that Aldi led. But Post began looking beyond music in his senior year.
“I’d been interested in electrical engineering and my high school had a college prep tech program connected to General Electric,” he said.
After a few forays into those studies, Post discovered he missed music. The next two years he pursued a music business degree at Schenectady County Community College and fondly remembers Brett Wery (recently retired as Dean of the School of Music) and Bill Meckley (retired head of the Empire Jazz Orchestra) with teaching him “a lot of life lessons.”
“But I was looking at programs based on recording and SUNY Fredonia had a really good one on the German Tonmeister technology (based on recording classical music),” Post said.
After getting his degree four years later, Post headed to New York City to work in recording studios, then to Florida where he worked for three years on live performances using his own equipment. A referral got him the chief audio engineer job in 2007 at the Tanglewood Music Festival to record all the summer concerts of the Boston Symphony Orchestra even as he continued to freelance and do editing with various record companies including Bridge Records where he met composer George Crumb, which he called “a real experience.”
Post came to the attention of Chicago in 2014 and for the next two years, he worked Chicago during the year and Tanglewood during the summer. While the jobs had always overlapped, Post relinquished his Tanglewood position in 2016 when the Chicago job converted to year round. And none too soon. In Chicago, whenever Muti conducts a concert it is recorded and that means every program even of the same pieces. Part of Post’s job is to eliminate all the coughs and sneezes, correct instrumental balances or mishaps as the first steps towards a release.
“There must be consistency between performances to be able to make edits,” Post said. “Some classical recordings have up to a thousand edits.”
This is the fifth time in seven years that an Albany Symphony recording has received a Grammy nomination.
“We are thrilled to receive this nomination, which brings attention to Christopher Theofanidis’ magnificent concerto, inspired by Navajo poetry,” said Miller, reacting to the nomination several weeks ago. “It’s not every day that a viola concerto gets recognized, but this is arguably the finest concerto for the instrument written in many years. We are so grateful to Richard O’Neill, our astounding viola soloist, and to Silas Brown, our extraordinary producer and engineer. I deeply appreciate the work of our brilliant Albany Symphony musicians. Thanks also to our staff, board and friends at Albany Records, and to all our supporters.”
Composer Theofanidis also expressed his appreciation when the nomination was announced. “I was so delighted to receive the news. Richard [O’Neill] put so much of himself into the performances and recording of the concerto, and David Alan Miller and the Albany Symphony’s commitment to excellence doing new work shines through in this announcement. It is an honor to have the piece nominated,” he said.
Said Violist O’Neill, “In this dark time for musicians the world over, to receive this nomination for Chris’ moving and important work brought me to tears. David’s vision and unstoppable energy, the beautiful musicians of the Albany Symphony, and the great work of Silas Brown; these forces came together to create a dream team the envy of any musician. I am so incredibly lucky to have such friends and colleagues. In the absence of live performance throughout the US, I hope this recording can give comfort and joy to all that listen.”