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Hands On

Joe Disbrow’s internship with the Irish Tenors packs a semester worth of experience into two intense weeks on the road.

In live performance, there are no second takes. Ohio Northern University senior Joe Disbrow knows this better than most, and it is something he will be thinking of every time the Irish Tenors take the stage during their spring tour. After all, it is his job to make them sound good.

Joe Disbrow has worked as sound designer for the Freed Center
for the Performing Arts since his freshman year.

Disbrow, a dual major in music composition and international theatre production, is interning with the world-famous PBS trio for their two-week spring tour this March. He will be responsible for making sure the sound that comes out of the tenors’ mouths reaches the audience’s ears. This means setting up all the sound equipment — microphones, microphone stands, cables, speakers – and patching everything into the sound mixing board for the artists and the accompanying orchestra. He’ll also be assisting the sound designer and conductor with anything they need during each performance.

With nine performances in five states in only 13 days, Dibrow figures to be busy, but he is confident in his abilities after four years of working across the sound spectrum for the Freed Center for the Performing Arts at ONU.

“I’ve worked on every musical the past four years except one,” says Disbrow. “I’ve been the sound designer, I’ve mixed shows, I’ve set up all the mics, I’ve set up the speakers, I’ve even created sound effects. If you heard something during a performance at the Freed Center over the past four years, there is a good chance it’s come through my board.”

The only thing that Disbrow hasn’t done in the live sound is work on a touring production, and come March 17, he’ll be able to cross that off his list as well. His duties are limited compared with what he’s used to at ONU, but the challenge of working on the road will make even menial tasks difficult.

“I’m looking forward to getting my feet wet on this tour. So much of theatre is touring, so this is going to give me some valuable experience,” he says. “And I’m hoping to prove to myself that I can do this, and that I should be doing this, and that I’m good at it.”

“My professors have been very supportive. They are all very excited for me to have this opportunity,” he says.

After graduation, Disbrow hopes to move to Chicago and pursue a career in sound design at a repertory theatre where he can work on many different projects and put down roots. As much as he is looking forward to working with the Irish Tenors and grateful for the opportunity, he’s not quite sure he wants to spend the next 40 years on the road.