Frank Horvat and Kathryn Ladano at Canterbury Music working on recording Alchemist's Brew

Un-Masking The Music

One of the parts of my music-making that I’m very passionate about is recording. I have been very fortunate in my music career to produce and release 11 albums of my compositions. Collaborating with talented and kind-hearted people is an important part of my life routine. 2020 was destined to be similar to all the past recent years…making a new album! Production on album number 12, Project Dovetail, began this past January. The bulk of the production work was to take place in the Spring with the album to be released this fall…then COVID happened.

We couldn’t be in the same room as audio engineers and musicians, studios closed and I was left wondering if I was going to ever release a professionally recorded album again.

Thankfully, the government has started to allow opening of places like recording studios again in my home city of Toronto…with conditions. And so, we’re excitedly back at it!

Just getting on the streetcar to go the studio felt strange. It was the first time that Lisa and I left our neighbourhood and took transit in 2 months and only the 2nd time in 4 months. The City of Toronto has a policy that you have to wear a mask anywhere indoors, including public transit. Thankfully, we were able to sport our brand new pieces of art, our handmade masks given to us by our artist friend, Lorna Livey. It’s fitting that they have butterfly patterns on them as Lorna and her butterflies will be featured on one of the compositions for this album.

Masks made by artist Lorna Livey

The streetcar ride was eerily pleasant. Normally in Toronto in the middle of a weekday, everything is crowded. But as things start to gradually begin to reopen, it’s quite evident that many people are still self-isolating.

Recording music in the age of COVID is still pretty great. We enjoy recording at the Canterbury Music Company. Both studio and recording booth are very spacious there so it’s easy to self-distance. Our first day back was to record my composition, Alchemist’s Brew, with bass clarinetist, Kathryn Ladano. I thought it would be annoying and distracting to have to wear a mask indoors for many hours in a row. But once you immerse yourself in the music, it’s easy to forget that the mask is even there. Working with Kathryn is like a dream. The sharing of ideas and experimenting is such an important part of the music-making process for me. Despite the madness of the world outside, it felt like we were in our own little world oblivious to what was going on around us.

Frank Horvat and Kathryn Ladano at Canterbury Music working on recording Alchemist's Brew

I guess that’s the power of music. While we take the regular and basic precautions, life goes on. My life is about working with others to make music. I am so grateful that I am allowed to get back it.

Hopefully the world allows us to continue with this new normal. We have more sessions booked in the next month and this fall with the hope that we will be able to release this new album in January.

In the meantime, stay safe!

Kathryn Ladano recording Frank Horvat's Alchemist's Brew

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