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Meet Andrew Tarr

Today we’d like to introduce you to Andrew Tarr.

Andrew, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I have always been fascinated by music. Growing up, my parents would play all kinds of music, from rock to jazz, in the house. I started playing saxophone in 5th grade and then picked up as many instruments as I could, including the guitar when I turned 13. In my 20s, I began playing in ensembles around my hometown of Lafayette, Indiana. There’s a lively music scene in Lafayette, and I fell into an American folk collective – playing guitar, bass, ukulele, and keys.

I began my undergraduate studies at Purdue University in 2011 without really knowing where to focus my attention. During a meeting with Professor Richard Thomas, I found that my musical background was very well suited for Theatre Sound Design. Studying with Professor Thomas, I learned as much as I could about audio technology, music composition, theatre design, and artistic collaboration. During my time at Purdue, I began freelance theatre Sound Design, working in cities all over the country including Dallas, Chicago, Orlando and New York. In 2016, I moved from Indiana to Southern California to begin my MFA at the University of California, Irvine.

Since finishing my Master’s, I’ve begun working as a freelance Engineer and Consultant for a variety of companies across the country, designing and documenting Sound, Video, and Control systems in attractions and installations both seen and heard the world over. I’ve also been continuing to work as a Sound Designer, as well as a freelance composer, working mostly with Modern Dance.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I figured out early on that if I wanted to make a career in Sound/Audio or Music that I needed an advanced degree. Getting through school was the most challenging part. Starting off, I needed to work a few jobs to cover tuition and cost of living. Balancing work, school, and life can be a struggle for anyone. But those years are where you take away really valuable time management skills. And you really learn to prioritize what’s important to you in that moment and to your plans for the future.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I have a broad skillset that applies to a variety of outlets in the entertainment industry. My formal training is a Theatre Sound Designer. As such, it’s my job to interface with the show’s director and design team to create a soundscape that supports the narrative of the story. This could mean recording sound effects, writing recording original music, working with the cast to learn a song, EQing mics, coordinating wireless channels, and/or mixing the show. Recently I’ve been specializing in Associate Sound Design. This is a more collaborative role, often working closely with the Sound Designer to document the design or help handle one element of the design entirely.

I’m also routinely collaborating with choreographers to develop original music for Modern Dance. This included live stage accompaniment during Dance performances, recording soundscape, and arranging existing music to fit the piece at large.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I’ve been SO fortunate to have a wonderful support system. My family, friends, and colleagues have pushed me to be better than I thought possible. Mom, Dad, and Alex have always been my rock. Mimi and Papaw, Tam and Brian and the boys, & Mark and Jen’s collective, ongoing encouragement has genuinely been a driving force behind my creativity and will power.

Dylan, Cheese and Marc, Tina and Allesandro, Jimmy, Ross…you guys rock.

Erica has been such positive influence in my life, especially since lockdown. Thanks!

My grad mentors, Mike and Vinnie, really broke me into shape. I’d have fewer gray hairs without them, but a lot less wisdom, experience, and tenacity. They’re much more talented and influential than they let on.

Slim (https://www.andreaallmond.com) and I have a lot in common. It is such a blessing that we work so well together too. I couldn’t ask for a more professional and caring designer to work for. Here’s to what’s next.

Andrea Ordaz (https://www.andreaordaz.com) is truly one of those people that make an impression on you for life. Her work ethic is unmatched and her dedication to her craft is contagious. She (wittingly or otherwise) has played an enormous part in my development as a composer in the last few years.

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