The Sound of Success

Lebanon Valley College graduate Joe Stolarick poses with audio and music production equipment

Joe Stolarick ’08 decided at an early age to attend Lebanon Valley College. Growing up in nearby Pine Grove, Stolarick had heard of the highly-respected music program at LVC and was certain that was where he would spend his undergraduate career studying music recording technology. 

“Having been serious about music from an early age, part of me always assumed that I would go to LVC,” Stolarick said. “However, once I got serious about looking at colleges and knew that I was interested in studying recording, LVC stood out as the obvious choice.”

While other music recording programs focus their curriculum solely on the technical aspect of the program, Stolarick remembers appreciating the music-based aspect of the music recording technology (now renamed audio & music production) program at LVC. He says it helped him to better understand the musical components of his major. 

“Communicating musically, making meaningful contributions to the artistic process, and learning how to listen can be much more difficult skills to attain,” Stolarick said. “Courses such as music theory and aural theory may not pertain specifically to recording. However, they helped me become more musically literate, which can be a major advantage in my field.”

The skills Stolarick attained at LVC have helped advance his career in the music recording technology industry. 

“From a technical standpoint, LVC introduced me to the key concepts and building blocks I use as an engineer—signal flow, routing, processing, etc. These are the constants in the recording field. No two studios or venues are exactly the same so there is always a learning curve involved,” he said.

These skills also helped lead him to New Orleans, La., where he is the audio-visual production manager for the New Orleans Jazz Museum, which is located on the third floor of the Old U.S. Mint in the French Quarter. 

“I provide audio, visual, and lighting support for all concerts, lectures, and special events. The venue is also a recording space and we capture every performance, so I do a good deal of tracking and mixing as well,” Stolarick said. “Additionally, I help to maintain all of our digital recordings, service the venue’s A/V equipment, and occasionally digitize analog recordings from the State Museum’s jazz and oral history collections.” 

Stolarick also works as a contract engineer for WWOZ 90.7 FM New Orleans, mixing live performances for radio/internet broadcasts of the renowned New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. During his time in New Orleans, he has also recorded Mardi Gras Indians, produced award-winning children’s albums for the National Park Service, and worked with organizations like National Public Radio (NPR).

 “The best thing about my job is that I love what I do,” Stolarick said. “Also, being in New Orleans, I am very lucky to work with world-class musicians on an almost daily basis. The New Orleans music community is very welcoming and that opens a lot of doors, even outside my job at the Jazz Museum.” 

Although Stolarick has made many advancements in his professional career since his time at LVC, he still reflects on his time as an undergrad student at The Valley where he participated in a variety of different organizations and music ensembles.

Along with on-campus activities, Stolarick also took advantage of the study abroad program, traveling to Cambridge, England, during the spring semester of his junior year. In addition, Stolarick interned at Smithsonian Folkways Recordings in Washington, D.C., which helped further broaden his interests in the musical world. 

“This experience had a huge impact on me, showing me that there are opportunities outside the recording studio that also engage my interests in history and cultural studies,” Stolarick said. 

Stolarick hopes to further his career by pursuing opportunities through audio archival work. He is currently earning his master’s degree in library and information science with a concentration in archival studies and digital curation from Drexel University and provides services as a contract audio-visual archivist for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation Archive.