Ayrshire Farm Is Home to Classical Recording Studio


(Thursday, May 15, 2008 3:00 PM EDT)

Stop at Ayrshire Farm in Upperville, and you'll probably hear moos, oinks and clucks from the rare breeds of livestock raised there. But listen a little harder, and the sounds of classical music might join the farmyard symphony.

In addition to being an organic manor farm, Ayrshire also is home to the Dorian Sono Luminos classical recording studio and label.

And even though the farming at Ayrshire draws from older, traditional methods, and though a lot of the classical music Dorian Sono Luminos records is hundreds of years old, the recording company prides itself on using the most recent, cutting-edge technology to do true justice to the classical music art form.

“Classical music is complicated to record,” managing director Dan Shores said in a recent interview. “It truly exhibits the clarity of a quality, high-resolution audio recording. Classical allows you to hear every instrument.”

With a catalog of 350 titles, with genres ranging from early music to orchestral music to newly composed contemporary works, Dorian Sono Luminos represents and records musicians from near and far.

(The Kennedy Center Chamber Players, Baltimore Consort and Smithsonian Chamber Players are a few of the local musicians who work with the label.)

Some people might think that having a recording studio on a farm could be a deterrent to attracting artists, since many other studios are in more urban areas. But recording at Ayrshire can be a treat.

The staff determines the most appropriate space for the groups' recordings to take place (a liturgical piece would best be recorded in a church, an orchestral piece in a concert hall, etc.), but if an ensemble is small enough, it gets to record in-house in Ayrshire's ballroom.

“They get to come here and stay in the house and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city,” Shores said. “They get to focus on the music and relaxing, which is paramount to a quality recording. It's like a working vacation.”

The audio engineers and staff try very hard to “stay as pure as possible” with their recordings, but are striving to provide listeners with “performance fidelity.”

“We're looking at doing surround-sound releases, so we won't just capture the instruments but the whole experience of being there,” Shores said.

On the whole, Dorian Sono Luminos' mission is to push the classical market into new places by being environmentally conscious (to conserve resources, CDs no longer will have booklets inserted into the case, but the information can be downloaded on the Web), and by “pushing the envelope on the look of the artists, the cover art, and [by using] cool Web sites and social networks,” Shores said.

“We're looking to be at the forefront,” he said.

For more information on Dorian Sono Luminos, see the Web site at www.dorian.com.

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