In announcing Chris Reba as the new Idyllwild Arts Academy music chair, Idyllwild Arts Foundation President Pamela Jordan touted Reba’s versatility across multiple musical genres, as well as his professional background and expertise in sound recording and engineering.
Although trained in both classical and jazz music, Reba is the first IAA music chair to be professionally versatile, as a working musician in classical, jazz, world, rock, punk, musical theater, folk and bluegrass. He is a professional bassist, both acoustic and electric. In addition, his credentials as a recording engineer and voting member of the Producers and Engineers Wing of the Grammys occupy a full page of his resume. In short, Reba brings to IAA a breathtakingly broad spectrum of ability and experience that will lend itself to many IAA disciplines and majors.
Reba leaves the University of New Haven in Connecticut where he was associate professor of Music and Sound Recording. He taught a panoply of courses, including intro to jazz history, jazz ensemble, music theory, recording fundamentals, digital audio and digital audio workstations, multi-track recording, sound synthesis and MIDI, live sound for theater and a theater production practicum.
Reba said his broad base of interests stems from his childhood. “My Dad was a session drummer in L.A.,” he said, “playing for artists like Bonnie Raitt and Maria Muldaur. So I was kind of learning to play from people he was playing with.”
Reba said he tried clarinet and guitar before settling on bass at 13. “I started playing funk, blues and rock — mostly hard rock. In high school, I started playing acoustic bass. At Mira Costa Community College I got interested in jazz, classical and experimental music. Then at University of California, San Diego, I studied bass with Bertram Turetzky and composition with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Roger Reynolds.”
Reba will not take up his position until the fall, but is already working with Jordan and other faculty to identify key goals. Among them are ways to support the classical music department while revising and updating other programs. “I’m already working to get a recording facility on campus, finding a permanent location and identifying donors that could support that,” said Reba. “It will be valuable for students to have access and be exposed to recording. It is such an important part of the business of performing arts. A goal is to have a temporary facility up and running by fall.”
Reba holds a bachelor of arts degree in music composition and a B.A. in bass performance (Cum Laude) from UCSD and a master of arts degree in music composition from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He also holds an associate’s degree in music, with emphasis in audio recording, from Mira Costa Community College in Oceanside.