A Musical Evening Full of Emotion


The North Coast Repertory Theatre was undeniably the place to be last night, for the « Four Songs, Four Musicians Evening », produced by Bionic Sisters Productions in collaboration with NCRT. The evening was held in support of the Arts for Healing Program at Sharp McDonald Center, which treats addiction and alcoholism, a family disease. This special program was described by Liz MacKenzie who welcomed questions at a display about the Center and program after the show. Each performance was introduced by co-emcees BSP President Bridget Brigitte and Theatre Producer Tracy McDowell.

Far from contenting themselves with playing for a very enthusiastic public, the four performing artists played their pieces energetically and swamped the cozy space of the Solana Beach theater with sensitivity and emotion.

Beginning with a precise soundcheck, the tone was set: Studio West’s team from the TRAC Recording Arts Center was on site under the direction of Mark Kirchner for the occasion and offered sound mixing worthy of the biggest concerts. The special intimate acoustics of the room brought out the best sounds of the instruments including a baby grand piano, various guitars, and an ancient Chinese Gu Zheng; the atmosphere captivated the audience. Professionalism prevailed, and the rehearsals for each musician occurred without a hitch.

It was 7:30 pm when the theater opened its doors, and the public was on time. The evening began with Mira Parfitt, an acoustic songstress who mixes folk and pop. She brought us into her acoustic universe with a lively beat and very personal lyrics. The natural shyness of the young artist strengthened the charm of her songs, and last night she easily won over the public’s heart.

Then Jing Jing Evans took over to bring us on a musical trip abroad as part of the sensory experience of listening to music. This Gu Zheng player, also a world champion martial arts instructor and Women’s International Center Living Legacy, introduced an original musical style on a traditional instrument. It was easy to imagine traveling around Asia to remote lands as we were lulled by the notes of each romantic song. Without a doubt, this performance will make people want to discover more of this special style of music.
The following duo brought a rare feeling to the evening. Marshall Hattersley on guitar, accompanied by his father Mark at the piano, delivered a performance that was so touching that members of the audience were in tears, owing to his special mild voice and sensitive songs. Marshall’s mother Barby joined them for the duo’s closing song, which proves that music made in and by a family brings a very rare and moving quality to songwriting.
For the final performance of the evening, the acoustic songstress Christine Parker revealed her rare talents. After the first song, it was impossible to resist her catchy lyrics and very “Californian” guitar sound. The song  « Take Me Home, Country Roads » by John Denver was sung in unison by the audience and left no doubt about her singular talent. She played an encore song that thrilled the audience.
The evening ended with a reception where people could indulge in delicious brownies and 7 layer bars made by health and sustainability conscious Jimbo’s. Since the show happened just two days before Thanksgiving, audience members generously brought donations for a food drive in support of the San Diego Food Bank.
This concert at North Coast Repertory Theatre won everyone’s heart, with the quality of its programming and a warm welcome from the whole BSP and NCRT teams. Most likely one of the best acoustic musical events of the year, hopefully there will be many more to come!
– Matthieu Saint-Wril, Sciences Po Aix-en-Provence
Photos: William Metivet  www.williammetivet.com

The Impact of Digital Recording on the Music Industry 




When a writer tackles this kind of article, the first thing we have to do is try to be fair. Even if some developments in digital music are concrete and undeniable, there is a happy medium to be struck between nostalgia of “good old times” and the exciting prospects of the future. 

I will not focus only on economic impacts, but I will try to give several points of view about how we can compare digital music, a result of the digital revolution in the music industry, to analog music, and all the possibilities that follow, that influence all aspects of music.

Basically, digital recording consists of creating or recording music in binary numbers that can be interpreted as sound. Beyond this scientific language, it first means that you can diffuse a digitally recorded song more easily and stored many songs using only minimal storage (especially since the invention of MP3). 

What about quality? It is sometimes better than the past music compression file types. But better quality and storage does not necessarily mean better music. To clarify, some people think that we cannot really rediscover the soul of an instrument, and the chemistry that exists between a musician and his instrument. Indeed, the stored signal does not have anything to do with the original signal, and a 100% virtual sound can loose its authenticity (Stairway To Heaven by Led Zeppelin for instance would sound better left unanalyzed).

With keyboards, however, it is possible to reproduce the sound of traditional instruments, like a pan flute or others, but it would definitely not sound the same. This is how a single person, like a DJ, can duplicate the sounds of an entire orchestra. Whether digital music represents an improvement to reproducing sound not, everyone has a different opinion, but the faithful reproduction of a live concert is suffering. 

Another consideration is that digital recording is mainly based on dematerialized, or virtual, songs. Will can take note of what is happening with the book industry. Should vinyl’s aficionados, for example, settle for a simple song on a computer or on a USB stick? Collectors will always exist, but vinyls today are already relics that are hard to get. 

A lot of people prefer to feel physically “feel” music and artwork on paper or a canvas will always be different than some pictures posted on a Facebook or Pinterest page. To know the lyrics from a song now, all that a person needs to do now is search on the internet and we find almost everything we want about a song. It is very interesting to learn about the writing conditions and evolution of a song, but there is room to believe that some compositions should keep their origins secret in order to remain mysterious, and thus be more noticeable. 

YouTube is probably one of the best examples we can find: you can see music videos for free (in spite of the regular advertisements), see how the artists look without having to pay etc. It creates a new generation of web artists, most of the time fleeting. 

But the most important issue is that the Internet revolution has permitted a huge dissemination of songs, and has created some conflicts regarding the privacy rules. The multiplication of laws in Europe and United States like SOPA and PIPA had aroused a lot of reactions and brings the debate to center stage. Because beyond the freedom to share simple files, there is a real right defended by the active members of the Internet’s cause. 

It is understandable that some artists want to protect their songs and live with their music to continue to record CD’s and perform in shows. But what an extraordinary advantage to be able introduce your own music to the largest number of people possible, for free, and to share your songs all around the world without promoting them. Some artists share their own songs via file-sharing, also known as peer-to-peer networking. 

This way, they reason, once an artist is discovered, people will maybe buy a CD or at least come to see a live show. 

Art and commerce always have and always will have an ambiguous relationship. But the record labels want to save a business in decline and are not ready to give in to the hands of  internets activists who advocate total freedom and free everything. So the goal is to combine the interests of everyone, perhaps reducing the influence of the Big Four record labels and reinforcing independent labels, originally stifled by the first ones. 

The Internet revolution is just beginning, but it is destined to bring other evolutions within the music industry, and only the future will tell us which ones. 

– by Matthieu Saint-Wril, Consultant and Intern with Bionic Sisters Productions. Sciences Po Aix, France.

California Women’s Conference 2012 : An inspiring event.

ImageThis year, the California Women’s Conference, organized at the Long Beach Convention Center, brings together several artists, speakers, professionals and attendees over two festive days. Everyone could walk around the huge building to discover the different attending exhibitors, sit down to see activities on the main stage (singers, speakers, etc.) or listen carefully to lectures given by entrepreneur women.
In order to “offer its attendees inspiration, resources, and connections to help take the next step in business, personal development, health and wellness, or philanthropic endeavors”, the California Women’s Conference had been able to give a wide vision of what can be done for women in various sectors. 
From Marcia Cross to Fran Drescher to Melissa Manchester, many celebrities succeeded on the main stage to support women’s causes in front of an attentive audience. The California Women’s Conference has been organized for nearly thirty years now, and the enthusiasm for this inspiring event seems to increase year after year. Bionic Sisters Productions was proud to attend for two days and explore the many booths and personalities that made this event unforgettable!
For more information, visit the California Women’s Conference: http://californiawomensconference.com 
By Matthieu Saint-Wril, Sciences Po Aix-en-Provence, Intern for Bionic Sisters Productions