Friday, March 17, 2017

31 Women in Audio: Lisa Nigris

Mix Messiah Productions presents: 31 Women in Audio, a series celebrating Women's History Month.

Day 15: Lisa Nigris

Today, we speak with Lisa Nigris, Director of Audio Production at the Aspen Music Festival and School and Director of Audio Visual Services at the New England Conservatory.

Leslie Gaston-Bird: What childhood experiences do you think led you to a love for the field of audio? 
Lisa Nigris: I started taking piano lessons around the age of 7 and voices lessons at 12.  There was a bit of a revelation when my folks gave me a DX7 and I discovered that manipulating sounds interested me more than performing songs.  In high school, my voice teacher mentioned that Berklee would be a good place to go to explore the various fields within the music industry.  That was good advice.

LGB: What was your earliest experience with recording? 
LN: My earliest experience with recording was holding a mic in front of my TV speaker trying to capture Kiss performing on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert.   I learned about the need for isolation in recording that day … among other things. While at Berklee, we had to record a sound alike project.  I chose the Beatles’ tune, "8 Days a Week".  It was a humbling experience.  Sounded awful, but I learned a lot about listening, and capturing the desired performance from an artist.  A little later in my college career, I was interning at Blue Jay and realized that the repetition of studio work was not for me.  I thrived on the pressure of live sound and live concert recording.  This was a major revelation that guided my career.

LGB: What questions do you DISLIKE being asked related to women in audio?

I’ll answer almost anything if it’s asked in a respectful way, especially if it’s a younger woman asking.

LGB: What questions would you PREFER to be asked related to women in audio?

LN: I’d prefer to have conversations not be guided by my gender, so whatever questions you’d ask a man, you can ask me as well.

LGB: What female role models do you have, fictional or real?
LN: My first professional role model was Robin Coxe Yeldham.  She was an amazingly talented engineer and educator.  She seemed to be able to balance work, home life, everything, with ease.  I was privileged to have taken some courses Robin while at Berklee. 

LGB: What upcoming projects are you excited about?
LN: At New England Conservatory, we’ll be opening our new building in September.  We began the design phase of this project roughly 5 years ago.  In addition to a new dorm and library space, the building will include a black box theater, large recording studio, orchestra rehearsal space, and a small stage area in the dining commons.  The AV installation begins soon.  I seriously cannot wait to see this dream become a reality before my eyes!

LGB:  Finally, be sure to tell me about anything you’d like to promote.
LN: New England Conservatory presents hundreds of concerts in 5 concert halls throughout the year.  Many of these events are free of charge.  If you are in the Boston area, please come and hear some music!

Leslie Gaston-Bird
Owner, Mix Messiah Productions, LLC