Annual AES summit brings in the experts
Jessica Kasstrom, a senior audio production major, said the weekend of the Central Region Audio Student Summit, hosted at Webster University each spring, is the best weekend of the entire year.
Kasstrom, also the chair of the Audio Engineering Society (AES), said she looks forward to the summit every year because she is able to mingle with audio professionals and learn how to break into the film industry with her sound talents.
“It’s a great privilege to be able to talk to these people and have a personal connection with them,” Kasstrom said. “Also, to tell stories of what to do and what not to do. It’s an incredibly inspiring and motivational.”
This year, the summit drew big audio names such as Dave Isaac, and keynote speakers Frank Wells, editor of Pro Sound News, and Robert Scovill, an audio engineer who has worked with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
“We have a good variety of speakers,” said audio department chair Gary Gottlieb. “There are graduates from our program to people who have been established in the industry for years and are now giving back and starting a legacy.”
Isaac, a three-time Grammy award-winning audio engineer, told students stories about working with Madonna, Van Halen and Stevie Wonder, who inspired him at a young age.
Isaac lived in Detroit when Motown was in its prime and would see musicians and Motown pioneers like Berry Gordon and Smokey Robinson out riding in their Cadillacs. Growing up, Isaac said he would lay on the floor and listened to Wonder and other Motown artists who inspired him.
“Working with him was a full -circle moment,” Isaac said.
After meeting Gottlieb in San Francisco, Isaac told Gottlieb to give him a call if he ever needed a speaker.
“I love to give back,” Isaac said. “I love talking to students and helping the next generation be better.”
Isaac added he loved the vibe and feeling of the summit.
“I love to see a place where students want to learn,” Isaac said. “Everyone here seems like they know what they want to do.”
The summit began five years ago. Alumus Shaun Wall attended audio conferences in New York City and California as a student and wanted to bring a similar experience to Webster. After other students joined Wall in his efforts, they called sponsors and speakers for the event.
Students continued to run the summit, which Gottlieb said gives them good life and work experience.
“This year, more than any other, students are more involved,” Gottlieb said. “Not only are they talented individuals, but they also work well together as a team. I think it speaks very well to their future, not only as audio professionals but people who are going to function in the world.”
Gottlieb said one of his favorite aspects of the summit is not only seeing students have conversations with audio professionals, but also watching the professionals collaborate with each other.
“It’s such a personal touch,” Gottlieb said.