Q & A With Festival Producer Elaine Martone

Elaine and Grammy
Elaine Martone with Michael Bishop at the 2010 Grammy Award Show, winning for Best Surround Sound Album for “Transmigration.”

Congratulations to Festival Producer Elaine Martone for her Grammy nomination for Producer of the Year in the classical music category!

Elaine was brought on as the Festival producer in 2012. Prior to joining us, she was executive vice president of production at Telarc Records for 29 years. As a key executive in planning and creative decision-making, she managed more than 1,500 projects and was accountable for more than $6 million annually in production costs. A world-class producer, she is a five-time Grammy Award winner in both Classical and Jazz.

Born in Rochester, New York, Elaine moved to Cleveland to study oboe with aspirations of playing with a symphony orchestra. A graduate of Ithaca College with a Bachelor of Music degree, she was taught the basics of the industry by Telarc founders Robert Woods and Jack Renner, quickly grasping what determined the famed Telarc sound and becoming an accomplished editor and an integral part of the management team. Elaine has served as producer on more than 200 recordings, both classical and jazz, including those by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra with Robert Spano and Robert Shaw, The Cleveland Orchestra with Franz Welser-Möst, the Philharmonia Orchestra with Ben Zander and jazz greats Ray Brown, Dave Brubeck, Oscar Peterson, Tierney Sutton, and McCoy Tyner to name a few.

Elaine was executive director of Spring for Music produced at Carnegie Hall with founding directors Thomas W. Morris, David V. Foster and Mary Lou Falcone, music industry legends.

With her husband, Robert Woods, she has formed a music enterprise, Sonarc Music, and is pursuing her passion, producing great music and musicians, as well as working with talented young people. She was a founding board member of Red {An Orchestra}, which completed seven seasons in Cleveland, Ohio.

Elaine in Studio
Literally, a behind the scene photo of the recording of the Vaughan Williams CD with Elaine Martone.

How did you become interested in sound recording?
It wasn’t sound recording I was interested in but more it was musical performance and what made a performance great. So I started at Telarc out of college (Ithaca College) with a degree in oboe performance. I was hired to do production at then fledging Telarc Records; I first did quality control of metal parts used to make vinyl records (back in the day) and then progressed to learning how to edit on the first digital music editing systems. Those experiences helped me understand Telarc’s philosophy of how a recording should sound. I went on from there to assistant producer and finally as producer in the hot seat!


What is the most fulfilling part of your job as a CD producer, and as the Festival producer?
I love when I can make a contribution to the world and music is my way of doing that. I love our funny, weird, lovely world of artists and creating stuff!

Elaine and Spano
Elaine and Conductor Robert Spano enjoying some “down time” during a recording session.

What is the most unusual recordings that you have been involved with in your career?
Most unusual – PDQ Bach recording: Classical Talkity Talk Radio when we were recording the Pachelbel Canon and we needed a bass drum. We looked up in the ceiling of the Harm’s Theatre we were recording in in New Jersey, and up there was a beaten up bass drum. We had a snare drum beater but no bass drum beater. Someone had brought a bushel of apples— we stuck an apple on the snare drum stick and that was the bass drum beater.

What is one of your most favorite CD recordings of all time?
Rachmaninoff Vespers with Robert Shaw and Robert Shaw Festival Singers recorded in The Quercy region of France in July 1989…. It was magical.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time I take ballroom dance lessons and sometimes do competitive ballroom dancing. I just started learning Argentine tango, and ballet. I love gardening, reading, and hanging out with my family and friends.