You might recognize me as the lady on stage thanking everyone on concert evenings. I’m Anne Biberman, FCA’s Executive Director. I work with our board, with our design consultant Sue Sprinkle on our marketing, I contract our guest artists, and try to sneak a little fundraising in there as well. It’s part of a love affair that began very early in my life.
I grew up in New York – in love with the arts from the start and fortunate enough to have been exposed to some very good culture. Those classes in dance and theater I went to as a child seemed to “take” with me and where ever life has taken me, that passion has always found a way into my life.
In 1995 life brought me to Fairbanks, which will forever be my chosen home. Once here, I enjoyed the opportunity to work at KUAC. I stayed there twelve years – until I was offered the best job of my life.
I have loved FCA for a long time. In 1998 I wrote a fan letter to Herta Prectel, then the ED:
I wanted to thank you and the Fairbanks Concert Association for bringing the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company up to Fairbanks. I was truly impressed by how many different populations they were able to serve, and the range they were able to offer the people of Fairbanks. …
I was able to participate in Movement for Actors, Intermediate-Advanced Modern Dance Class, Choreography Class, Afro-Caribbean Dance Class and Improvisational Jam. All in one week…Ririe’s [class] was fun and a great learning experience. …I have rarely been in a room where so much energy and enthusiasm were being generated. …It brought me great joy.
Thanks again Herta. The Fairbanks Concert Association is a true asset to the community. It is one of the reasons I enjoy calling it home.
The Fairbanks Concert Association is a source of local pride, a community asset. I enjoy every day here. My favorite part of the job is hearing your ideas. It’s a different job every day, and I love it!
You might recognize me as the lady in the box office on concert evenings, answering questions and distributing will-call tickets. You might only know me as the friendly voice when you call the FCA office. I’m Rhonda Gilbertson, FCA’s Operations Manager. That’s a fancy title for what I laughingly call my job as “Number Two of Two” in the FCA office. I handle season tickets and memberships, artist technical and hospitality riders, publicity, community outreach, and day-to-day operations as part of my job. It’s part of a love affair with the arts and music that began very early in my life.
I grew up in Delta Junction, and my music education began at the age of five, when my parents enrolled me in piano lessons. I went on to try, with varying degrees of success, the recorder, tenor sax, and trombone. I played piano in my junior high band until the percussionist left for a vacation, and decided I’d like to fill in. I’ve been banging on things ever since, from drum set and timpani in high school, to mallet percussion in college, and my true love, steel drums, after college.
I came to Fairbanks in 1990 to pursue my bachelor’s degree in music, with emphasis in voice. I loved my time in college, singing with the Choir of the North, Alaska Camerata, and Opera Workshop. After I’d finished working on my degree, I started playing steel drums and bass guitar, and singing with the Alaska Chamber Chorale. I played bass guitar with the UAF pep band for many years, and I currently play in a small steel drum combo called Pantheon. If you’ve seen a small steel drum band with a smiling, dancing woman playing 6 full-sized oil barrels, that’s probably me!
In my college years, I worked at the Rasmuson Library and Geophysical Institute Library, and considered pursuing a master’s degree in Library Science, but before I applied to school, I fell in love with arts management through a job with the UAF Summer Fine Arts Camp. My experience there led to my hire at the Fairbanks Symphony Association, and my current job with FCA. I still get a thrill when a performance is over, and people are on their feet, cheering and whistling, knowing that I played a small part in making it happen.
My favorite part of my job is meeting and interacting with FCA’s guest artists, sharing with them my knowledge of and love for Alaska, and helping them with any last-minute needs they may have from ping pong balls and Krazy Glue (for a classical guitarist as fingernail reinforcement), to providing the moose, caribou, or salmon for them to get a taste of Alaskan life. It’s a different job every day, and I love it!
As you enter Hering Auditorium for a performance, you’ve probably noticed the soundboard in mid-house and the man operating it. Josh plays an integral role in bringing great performances to FCA audiences, here’s a behind the scenes peek at his job.
Before each season begins, Josh looks at the tech riders for each group that will be presented. Tech riders usually contain detailed instructions on what sound equipment the artists require, a diagram of how the stage should be set, and specific requirements for back line equipment. The back line is any musical instrument or accessory that the artist is not bringing with them on tour, and can be anything from a piano to a plexiglass drum cage. Josh and Rhonda discuss the back line, as they each have local contacts for particular equipment, and divide the responsibility for securing that equipment. Josh calls the artists to speak with their tech director, front-of-house engineer, or production manager. Depending on the size of the group, there could be several different people Josh will speak to, or only one. With all these people, Josh checks to see if the tech rider has changed since it was submitted to FCA, and goes over the details of each piece of equipment. Some riders will be very specific as to makes and models of equipment and back line, and Josh works out compromises that will please the artists and still allow him to obtain equipment locally, or order acceptable substitutions from Anchorage. Josh explains, “I try to make it easy for them. I need to make sure they know what they’re getting when they walk through the door. There shouldn’t be any surprises for them. They just want to know what they’re going to walk into.”
Josh will speak to the tech director again the week of their performance, answering any last-minute questions or concerns they may have before they travel to Fairbanks. On the day of their load-in, Josh’s job is to make sure they know where everything is located, and serve as their liaison to the equipment. If the group submitted a stage plot, Josh will have the stage set upon their arrival so that they may sit down, tune their instruments, and begin their sound check.
In the sound check, the group and Josh set the levels and mix for the group. The mix is the balance between the instruments that comes through the speakers and the group’s monitors. Josh’s job in mixing is to make sure all the instruments can be heard, are balanced, and if the instruments sound as they are supposed to, or how the artists want them to sound. For mixing, Josh answers directly to the group, so if they want a specific sound, or a balance that seems unnatural, he incorporates that into the mix. Some groups are easier than others in the sound check, and Josh has to balance the needs of FCA, the audience, and the artists, which puts his diplomacy skills to work. If the artists have traveled with their own sound tech, Josh will act as support staff during the show, taking care of any needs of the tech crew, troubleshooting, and repairing equipment if necessary. “Anything can happen,” Josh says, though clearly he hopes his job during the show is relatively uneventful. If he is mixing for the group, he maintains the mix established during the sound check, making any necessary adjustments on the fly.
Following the show, he tears down his equipment, packs it away, and prepares for the next show, which may be one for FCA, or for someone else entirely. So, the next time you’re at an FCA show, spare a thought for the man behind the sound table, balancing the sound and making the artists sound their best for the Fairbanks audience. As with any tech job, it can be thankless at times, and we appreciate all that Josh does to make our performances unforgettable.
For those of you who know me, you know that I love my dogs. It was because of dogs that I ended up in Fairbanks. I came to Alaska by way of the Yukon Quest. Since 1997, I volunteered in various aspects of the race—from office volunteer, to checkpoint volunteer, as dog handler and now as the designer of the Yukon Quest’s print materials. My studio is a proud sponsor of the race, donating many hours to promote the race to the international audience that it attracts.
It was not in my life plan to move to Alaska, but I left a well-established position as Art Director in a Washington DC ad agency and bought raw land on Chena Hot Springs Road. 6 months later I was living in my own waterless cabin, had a sled dog team, and I thrived during my first winter in Alaska. I’ve been here ever since and I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. I love the way Fairbanks fosters community, we are sensible, neighborly folks. We help our friends and our friends become our family. We all know to add 30 minutes to our schedule when we go to Fred Meyers. It’s a town that lets us make a difference.
I’ve lived in a lot of towns — some big cities and other small places but I’ve never been able to do the things I’ve done in Fairbanks. I co-hosted Car Talk on KUAC radio. I’ve run a polling place. I judged flowers at the Tanana Valley Fair. I’ve helped with fund-raisers, auctions, and other non-profits events. I’ve even officiated a wedding! I’ve never been in a city that allowed me to be involved in so much. I like to do the same in my business, 5th Avenue Design & Graphics, Inc. with the help of my business partner, Karen Farrell and Lindsay Williams, our junior designer.
FCA Executive Director, Jason Hodges, first approached me to do a simple season catalog and some minor mailings. Who wouldn’t love promoting the Chinese Circus? A “Frog” dance troupe, or world-renown Celtic fiddler, Eileen Ivers? I loved working with Jason and the FCA. Our working relationship morphed into a great friendship in and out of the studio. After the 2005 season, we got to know the Fairbanks audience a bit better and by 2007, Jason and I decided to give the FCA print material a theme. You might remember that FCA asked you to “go out on a date.” All the promotions used “blind date” descriptions, phrases and images that reinforced those moments we’ve all endured when dating someone new.
It was so successful that folks called FCA about their “driveway moments” after receiving their season brochure, sitting in their cars reading the entire piece while the car was running. It was such fun to know the word play increased FCA membership and subscriptions. I was very proud. I feel very ownership when I take my seat for each performance. Will the house be filled? Will the audience fill out their questionnaires? Will they love the show? Did our postcards and ads represent the performers accurately? I’ve enjoyed working with the new Executive Director, Anne Biberman and hope you love what we’ve done with this season! I’ll see you in the Hering Auditorium!
I’m a Creative Communications Consultant and Professional Development Specialist. My wife and I have called Fairbanks home since 1979. I started working with FCA in the spring of 2014 to migrate the website to a new platform and give it a fresh, new mobile-friendly design.
For 31 years, I worked as an educator in Fairbanks North Star Borough School District. For most of my career, I taught science, math, graphic and web design, and computer networking. Since 2006, I’ve specialized in Professional Development, working with teachers and students to creatively integrate technology tools to enhance learning and teaching.
I also consult with local non-profits and small businesses to shape their Internet presence to better meet the needs of their audiences. Rather than just creating website designs and “makeovers”, I focus on creatively selecting and integrating technology and media tools to achieve each organization’s mission and goals.
When I spend too much time being a web geek, I leave the computer screen behind, grab my skinny skis or a paddle and head outdoors. In winter and spring, I love skijoring the trails with my four “wannabe” sled dogs ( Mushers say I’m missing more than a sled, and “Just don’t call ’em sled dogs if they sleep indoors.”) In summer, wild Alaskan rivers beckon me to explore in kayak, packraft, or canoe. For 25 summers, I guided river and backpack trips in remote Brooks Range and Arctic wilderness.
Executive Director, Anne Biberman’s enthusiasm is contagious. It’s an exciting journey being involved in helping communicate her visions of Seeing, Sharing, and Feeling the experiences that FCA brings to our community.