For over 20 years, recording engineer and producer Robert Friedrich – a life-long musician with intensive musical training – has worked with some of the most talented and innovative artists in classical, jazz and a variety of other musical genres. His work has been recognized industry-wide with three GRAMMY® Awards (including a Latin GRAMMY®), as well as a 2002 Surround Music Award (Best Made for Surround Title, for the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet’s LAGQ Latin) and a 2006 Enjoy The Music Award (for pianist Michel Camilo’s Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue). In addition to his three GRAMMY® wins, Friedrich was had GRAMMY®’s nominations in 2004 for LAGQ’s Guitar Heroes (Best Engineered Classical Recording), 2006 for Tierney Sutton’s I’m with the Band (Best Jazz Vocal Album), 2011 for Turtle Island String Quartet "Have you ever been…?" (Best Engineered Classical Recording), and again in 2015 for Ben Zander/ Philharmonia Mahler Symphony No.2 “Resurrection” (Best Surround Album).
Growing up in New York City, Friedrich began formal training on the violin at age six. By the time he was 10, he was performing professionally. He spent his middle school and high school years attending specialized music schools, including Fiorello LaGuardia’s High School of Music and Art in New York City and Interlochen Center for the Arts in upstate Michigan. He was awarded a full scholarship to Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, where he studied violin with Yukiko Kamei, a protégé of the legendary Jascha Heifetz. While at Pepperdine, he was concertmaster of the Pepperdine University Orchestra, the musical director and on-air host of the KMBU Classical Show and a performer at the Edinburgh Music Festival.
After graduating from Pepperdine with a Bachelor of Arts degree in music history and literature, Friedrich began teaching violin. While still performing, Friedrich learned the business side of music by working at Clinton Recording Studios in New York City, where he assisted and observed numerous top-notch engineers, producers and artists. The Clinton experience – along with many independent recording projects – shifted Friedrich’s focus away from performing and toward engineering. During this period, he recorded numerous artists representing a range of styles, including Will Downing, Vanessa Williams, Paul Plishka, Jonatha Brooke, Ralph MacDonald, Steve Gadd, Abe Laboriel.
In 1994, Friedrich mixed Toby Twining’s Shaman album, released on RCA/BMG. Shaman was runner up for Album of the Year in the 1995 Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards and highly acclaimed for its acoustic integrity. After the success of Shaman, he went on to record more BMG sessions for a range of artists, including Musica Sacra, Chanticleer, Marimolin, and Meredith Monk.
Friedrich joined the world-renowned Telarc label in 1997 to work among some of the most acclaimed engineers and producers in classical music. He has traveled around the world to record numerous artists on Telarc and its contemporary jazz affiliate label, Heads Up International. Friedrich’s Telarc/Heads Up projects have included Philip Bailey, Bobby Short, Dave Brubeck, John Pizzarelli, Monty Alexander, The Saxophone Summit, Turtle Island Quartet, Philharmonia Orchestra, The London Symphony Orchestra, The Royal Philharmonic, Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, Tierney Sutton and Michel Camilo and many others.
In 2009, Friedrich and his two business partners Michael Bishop and Thomas Moore (all former key members of the Telarc label production team) formed Five/Four Productions, Limited. Five/Four Productions is a world-class audio production company specializing in high-resolution audio and offering a variety of services including project planning, recording, producing, editing, mastering, and sound restoration. Five/Four Productions continues work with globally renowned artists such as The Berlin Philharmonic, Hiromi, Eric Bibb and The Cleveland Orchestra.
In 2011, Friedrich joined the Library of Congress as an Audio Preservation Specialist preserving our nation’s treasures. Friedrich has brought his dedication to excellence and experience of best practices to the Library.
For all of the experience that Friedrich has amassed over the years, he continues to subscribe to the less-is-more philosophy of recording. “Keep it simple,” he says. “My goal is always to be as direct and transparent as possible.”