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More music to John Poppo's ears

John Poppo
Alumnus and sound recording entrepreneur John Poppo is honored in Mason Hall. Music Professor Keith Peterson is in back.

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John Poppo hears a lot of amazing things. As the founder of Pop Productions, Inc. — operating in the heart of Manhattan’s Times Square — he is a producer, engineer, mixer, arranger and musician who regularly works with the music industry’s biggest stars.

His credits can be found among the recordings of pop icons like Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, NSync, Seal, Madonna, Luther Vandross, Al Green and Vanessa Williams – whose parents, incidentally, are both SUNY Fredonia alumni.

But to hear him talk as he received the SUNY Fredonia Alumni Association’s 2008 Outstanding Achievement Award over Homecoming weekend, you’d think this was the greatest honor he’s ever received.

“I’m not exaggerating in the least when I tell you that everything I’ve earned, all of the successes I’ve enjoyed throughout my career, I can trace back to what I learned right here at Fredonia,” Poppo said during his acceptance speech.

Poppo, a Sound Recording Technology (SRT) major was honored Saturday, Oct. 18 in a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the SUNY Fredonia SRT program. School of Music Director Karl Boelter began the ceremony at the Juliet J. Rosch Recital Hall and SUNY Fredonia President Dennis Hefner presented Poppo with the award.

It was an almost surreal moment, Poppo said, to find himself back on campus, being recognized in this fashion — made even more so by the fact that he was a little sleep deprived. You see, all-nighters, common to most college students, are still very much a part of Poppo’s world as well.

“I was up all night last night, working with an awesome up-and-coming artist who was the headliner for an AIDS benefit in New York that raised somewhere around $1 million dollars,” he explained. “Her name is Chelsea. She’s only 17 years old, and could very well be the next Christina Aguillera.”

“I might be a little red-eyed as a result, but believe me, I wouldn’t miss this for anything,” he added.

In addition to having engineered and/or produced everything from pop, rock, R&B and hip-hop, to classical and jazz music, John is also a published songwriter, signed to BMG/Universal Music Publishing, and holds copyrights to numerous major label releases throughout the world.

The SRT bachelor’s degree program at Fredonia — the only accredited program in the SUNY system — is as good as it gets, according to the 25-year veteran of the music business, not only in the state, but in the nation. It trained him to be a complete musician, capable of reading scores and playing instruments, as well as providing the basis and techniques of truly engineering sound recordings, rather than simply how to work a recording console.

He also marvelled at the successes his classmates have gone on to enjoy over the years.

“I could stand here all day and rattle off names of people I went to school with who have gone on to have really amazing careers,” he said. “To the students in this program today, I can tell you, you’re at the best place you can be if you want to get into this business. There’s no better place to learn.”

Poppo is also very involved with The Recording Academy, the preeminent arts advocacy and outreach organization in the country which also produces the annual GRAMMY awards for the music recording industry. He has served as a member of its illustrious board for five years, and presently serves on its Producers and Engineers Wing Advisory Council, as well as various committees, including the Hall of Fame, Awards and Nominations and Planning and Governance committees.

Following the award presentation, Poppo and the event’s guests were given a tour of the campus’ new, state-of-the-art recording studio, which was constructed and formally dedicated in January 2008.

“That’s a far cry from what we had 25 years ago,” Poppo chuckled as he marveled over the new facility. “But we had what really mattered most: great teachers. Professors like David Moulton, Phyllis East, Keith Peterson and Harry Jacobson… they’re the reason I’m standing here today.”

Poppo was not only happy to give credit where it’s due; he also didn’t hesitate to give back. He was gracious enough to lead several master classes at the School of Music for its SRT majors on both Saturday and Monday during his return to campus.

“I was thrilled and honored to be asked,” he said. “Hopefully, I can create some memories for them that are just as special as those which I received here a quarter century ago.”

posted @ Monday, December 22, 2008 11:56 AM by Christine Davis Mantai

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