Steven’s Professional Biography

Short Bio

I received a Bachelor of Arts in Music from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Master of Fine Arts in Music with a focus on violin and viola from The California institute of the Arts. I am also a past recipient of a National Institute for Music Theater grant in operatic conducting. In 1998 I completed a Ph.D. in Historical Musicology from UCLA.

I’ve played viola professionally for over thirty years. My performance experience includes many concerts with a variety of orchestras, chamber ensembles and music festivals. For over thirty years I had the good fortune of working in the recording industry. During that time I played on hundreds of film scores, numerous TV shows and a variety of pop, rock and several jazz albums.

Recently I attained a Professional Certificate in Music Production using Pro Tools, and I received a Specialist Certificate in Guitar Skills; both from Berklee College Online.

I am a voting member of The Recording Academy, also known as the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS).

Long Bio

I began studying music on the violin. My first major teacher was Joachim Chassman. I then studied violin with David Abel, Heiichiro Ohyama and Yoko Matsuda.

When I began studying at the California Institute of the Arts, where I enrolled specifically to study violin with Ms. Matsuda, I discovered that I had a far greater feel for the viola. I studied viola for two years with James Dunham while at CalArts. During that time I also studied with Milton Thomas at the Music Academy of the West.

When I went to the Aspen Music Festival to study the viola for a summer, the excellent conductor and conducting teacher, Murry Sidlin, graciously allowed me to participate in his conducting class. Subsequent to that, I studied conducting with Lawrence Christianson, Herbert Blomstedt, Jon Robertson, and John Mauceri. My studies with Mr. Mauceri were a result of an internship, under his aegis and guidance, at Scottish Opera.

While I pursued conducting, I played the viola in orchestras throughout Southern California and in various music festivals. And, I fortunately began to work more frequently in the recording industry.

My love for music is all-encompassing, and it’s that comprehensive approach that drew me to conducting. However I remember Murry Sidlin mentioning in a class that a conductor should have a musicologist’s curiosity. What he meant by that, I believe, is that a conductor’s interpretation of a piece must be deeply informed. That would include a thorough-going structural analysis, as well as comprehensive historical understanding of the piece, its composer and their historical context.

The logical step, it seemed to me, was to pursue musicology. To that end, I received a Ph.D. In Historical Musicology for UCLA in 1998. My doctoral advisor and mentor was one of the finest teachers and scholars I could have hoped for, Susan McClary.

After completing the doctorate, I continued freelancing in the recording industry and performing chamber music. While pursuing those professional activities, I was (and still try to be) very much involved to whatever extent necessary with the lives of my two sons, Aaron and Joshua. And, needless to say, with the woman to whom I dedicated my album, my wife Lauren.

Eventually, and I suppose inevitably, I resurrected my first musical love, the electric guitar. At first I studied with some fine rock guitar specialists, then two outstanding jazz guitarists, and finally I decided to study the classical guitar. Although in most cases I spent a relatively short time with some of them, my guitar teachers have been terrific, one and all. On electric guitar I worked with Phil Woodward, Steve Hunter, Bruce Buckingham, Pat Kelley, and Tom Rizzo. James Hunley is my classical guitar teacher.

About five years ago I decided stop freelancing on the viola and focus on music production, including song writing, recording, mixing and producing.

I produced my first project, “All Over the Map – Music for Solo Guitar and Solo Viola,” to represent my eclectic and individual musical voice. The result, I hope, is a collection of recorded performances that speak, intimately, as one human being to another.

Learning about contemporary recording and music production techniques (using Digital Audio Workstations such as Pro Tools, Logic, and Sequoia) helped me a great deal during the process of making the album “All Over the Map – Music for Solo Guitar and Solo Viola.

Although I would like to return to my original intent of writing and producing my original songs, my primary goal presently is to teach beginning to intermediate violin, all levels of viola, beginning to intermediate electric and classical guitar, music analysis and chamber music. Moreover, I look forward to helping other acoustic musicians (and electric musicians too) as a producer.

The bottom line is, I’ve been around the block a few times as a musician, and I’d like to help others with their musical goals and dreams.

Film Composers I have worked with

John Williams
Jerry Goldsmith
James Newton Howard
Hans Zimmer
Alan Silvestri
Randy Newman
Danny Elfman
Alexander Desplat
James Horner
Howard Shore
Brian Tyler
Marco Beltrami
Mark Isham
John Barry
Maurice Jarre
Elmer Bernstein
Michelle Legrand
Dave Grusin
Marc Shaman
John Debney
Teddy Shapiro

Some of the Pop, Rock and Jazz Artists I’ve worked with include

Natalie Cole
Linda Ronstadt
Charlie Haden
Randy Newman
Harry Conick Jr.
Celine Dion
Dionne Warwick
Rod Stewart
Barry Manilow
Garth Brooks
Ray Charles