Folks Are Saying

Carolyn Surrick


It is a question asked by musicians all the time. “Can we trust him?’ 

We ask the question about our agents and managers. We ask the question about new musicians joining the ensemble. We ask it when we walk into a recording session, and there’s a producer whom we have never met before. 

Sometimes it’s about money. Sometimes it’s about musical chops. Sometimes, honestly, it’s about ego.

And we are human. A first impression matters, and it can be spot on, or it can be a misdirect. 

Five years ago, Ensemble Galilei arrived at the Sono Luminus studio in Boyce, Virginia ready to record a new CD, and it was not our first rodeo. We had been working for twenty-two years, and touring for seventeen. Twelve CDs. We’ve recorded for Dorian/NPR Classics, Telarc, and Maggie’s Music. We have worked with Grammy Award winning producers. We have self-produced.

Dan strides in, says his effusive, “Hello everyone!” and I take the temperature in the room. They are not impressed. He’s young. He’s enthusiastic. He’s wearing a crisply ironed shirt and a swell looking tie. 

Half of our group is made up of Irish and Scottish musicians. They are wearing crumpled tee shirts and old blue jeans. Sneakers. They are inhaling their coffee. They haven’t shaved in days. And yes, they are well over thirty.

Clearly, this is not a slam dunk. 

We wasted the first three hours. Dan and I went outside to talk. He said, “If you guys don’t trust me, we might as well end this session now.” He was wise. He was right. That moment was the beginning of an incredibly rewarding musical relationship.

He has produced two more CDs for us and the experience has been transformative. He has taken us outside our comfort zone, as we have for him. We arrive with no musical scores, frequently. He must listen. Carefully and completely. In his head, he hears something that doesn’t exist yet, and then he suggests a perfect harmony line. And we must listen. Carefully and completely. Together, we enter into a sacred place of music, and silence. He creates that space for us. He holds that place for us — and that is, truly, where music is made. 

—Carolyn Surrick, gamba, Ensemble Galilei


Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir


Working with Dan changed the way that I think about recording.  His collaborative, thoughtful and intuitive approach allowed me to play at my best which he then translated into a much better recording than I could have hoped for.  A wonderful facilitator and sensitive musician, he draws the best out of the people around him and made the whole process a delight.  I am deeply grateful for the brainstorming and guidance in the non-musical side, as he inspired me to imagine new possibilities for the project.  I loved working with him and look forward to future collaborations!

—Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir, cello