David Musial, professor, producer, keyboard player, studio designer - Non performer
BMHOF Class of 2014
David Musial has just about done it all in music – performed, produced, taught and even designed studios. Along the way, he was a pioneer in electronic music in Western New York.
But it took a little trickery to get him started. He still remembers the scene:
“There was a very tough Felician sister named Sr. Calasanctius in 1970, Precious Blood Church, William Street and Fillmore Avenue,” he said. “And Jane Liskiewicz-Pfeiffer, the church organ player.”
He had started taking lessons from Liskiewicz-Pfeiffer, he said, after failing with an earlier, rather abusive teacher (if he missed a note, he had to write something 100 times …). His new teacher wasn’t anything like that, but she did start slipping church music into his practice repertoire.
“It was ‘SerdecznaMatko’ (‘Mother, Beloved’ in Polish),” he said. “She said, ‘It will be good variety for you to have something new in your portfolio.’
“Now I’m 10 years old, so she gives it to me for a lesson. Then she says, ‘How about next week you come up to the pipe organ at church and play it. I’ll sit right next to you.’ Little did I know she was getting married soon and needed a replacement organist for the church.”
In fairly short order he went from practicing at the pipe organ for Jane to seeing Sr. Calasanctiusrecruit him to play for the school’s daily morning service.
Soon his parents got a call from the parish priest.
“I know this sounds kind of odd, but when David’s playing in the morning, people don’t know if it’s his teacher or him,” the priest said. “And we need a new organist.”
The church hired Musial to take over as the church organist. At age 10 he was playing 10 services a week for pay. His career was started.
In fact, that church is where he says he started improvising.
“That’s where I owe most of my creativity,” he told The Buffalo News in 1988. “You run out of music and the Mass is continuing; what do you do? I started improvising.”
Since then, Musial has produced dozens of albums, working in various capacities on over 100. Many of his projects are oriented toward helping society through drug abuse prevention, anti-violence/bullying, suicide prevention and church-related programs.
He is the son of Art and Terry Musial, and grew up on the East Side of Buffalo on Thomas Street before moving to the Orchard Park and graduating from Orchard Park High School.
Musial’s early years include studying with Carlo Annibale, a blind organist who was notoriously demanding. He earned degrees from Erie Community College, Fredonia State College and the University at Buffalo.
One of his discoveries along the way was the MiniMoog synthesizer. He first touched one at age 16 in an East Aurora music store and was immediately captivated. He somehow got a loan and bought it. He produced his first album on the “Moog 55” located in Baird Hall at UB Main Street in 1979.
Eleven years – and a few academic degrees later -- he was doing electronic sound design for the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and played synthesizer with the orchestra. That was before he went to study and teach at Juillardand New York Universityin New York City.
Musial’s resume is jammed with accomplishment, including:
● By age 21, he had already recorded three albums, including one with the St. John Vianney Folk Group in Orchard Park, an album called “Hymntronics” on which he played everything himself.
● Produced the first radio jingle for the Buffalo subway line, called "Let Metro Move You," with Dan Neaverth on the voiceoverand Jim Rebholz on lead vocals.
● Designed the Daybreak TV Productions Studios for Catholic Diocese of Buffalo in 1984 and stayed on a technical director, then as a producer.
● Studied with Bob Armstrong, a conductor and arranger with the NBC Radio Orchestra and theTonight Show in the 1950s and ‘60s.
● Co-produced a documentary about jazz legend Dave Brubeck when Brubeck played with the Buffalo Philharmonic, two choirs and Brubeck’s trio at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Buffalo.
● Recipient of Erie Community College’s Alumni of the Year Award. He was then asked to endorse the institution in a year-long mass media campaign, using his image and story.
● The United Nations used the song “Spread Peace All Over The World,” produced by Musial, for its 50th anniversary. He then conducted a version with Buffalo native and soprano/gospel singer native Darlene Edwards and a choir in Buffalo at La Salle Park.
● Founder and original director of the Music & Technology Program at Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey from 1993 to 2012. In 2012 the program took second place in the nation for “Most Innovative Changing The Industry” by BestColleges.com
● Founder and was the Director of the Student Division of the Bob Moog Foundation for Electronic Music, 2007-2009
● Directed and produced over 50 music videos.
● Produced the vocal sessions for a national TV commercial for the Nabisco Oreo Cookie in 1990 with Chubby Checkers re-recording a new version of the “The Twist” as the “Oreo Twist.” It earned a “Brammy Award” (Branding in Advertising).
● Scored soundtracks for over 400 cartoon episodes, and isproducing the “Mad Screen Box” video game voices (First 4K Internet Video Game Channel).
● Scored music for films, television shows, commercials, radio spots, theme parks and video games,including a project for NASA.
● Contributed to the sound design for the “Kodak Omnimax: at the Statue of Liberty Science Center, the largest screen in the world in 1995.
● Was selected to be the first masters student with Wendy Carlos, of “Switched On Bach” fame, at New York University.
● Created One World Artists, an artist development company.
● Produced educational media shows in what is now First Niagara Arena, in Disney, on a U.S.S Aircraft Carrier, in the “Hall Of Heroes” in the Pentagon, etc.
● Produced the Original Cast album for the current Off-Broadway Musical in Midtown New York titled “Honestly Abe.”One of the artists Musial works with, Brady®, stars as young Abe Lincoln (he has given many concerts in Buffalo, has been on AM Buffalo, Good Morning NY, KISS 98.5 and more).
● Mastered songs for Lauryn Hill, the BackStreet Boys, Dave Matthews Band, Everclear, Tori Amos and Alanis Morrisette, all on the "Take A Stand" eCD from MTV.
Perhaps the project that most captures Musial’s dedication, though, is Smart Trax, a division of One World dedicated to positive message music. It was created in the wake of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which occurred when Musial was at New York University. On 9/11/01 he composed “Brave New American Heroes” as he watched the Twin Towers with a direct view from his music studio on the bank of the Hudson River in Jersey City. David turned the song into an anthem music video, and it was used all over the nation. In 2008 he received a letter from the White House because it was inducted into the national 9/11 Memorial. He has since worked with both the United States Justice and Defense departments and a number of other groups in crafting productions with anti-violence and anti-drug messages. He was brought Smart Trax presentations to the Buffalo schools -- with artists performing for over 30,000 students.
He composed the theme and produced the soundtrack for the “Take A Stand” project, earning an Emmy Award and a Silver Cindy for the U.S. Department of Education on MTV.The United States Department of Justice presented David an award for “Promoting Positive Messages Through Music” after he produced a “Smart Trax” concert for the 25th Anniversary of the “Red Ribbon Rally” (like the one in Buffalo in 2000), in the national headquarters for the DEA.
After some 40 years in the business, he says he still recommends following this motto: "If it's not fun, don't do it."
He’s hoping his time in Buffalo around the Hall of Fame induction gala will be fun. He’s scheduled a performance, and invited many Buffalo and national performers he has worked with, to join himin the Spring of 2015. The performance will be at 6:30 p.m. on April 11 at Saint Stanislaus church on the East Side of Buffalo, near his original home.
Musial will be starting it with a duet – with Jane Liskiewicz-Pfeiffer singing in Polish and him on pipe organ. Musial has invited a group ofFeliciannuns to help sing the last couple of songs in Polish. And he’s also invited Sr. Calasanctius – now 95 years old and going by the more modern name of Sr. Emily Marie.
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