MA 30 The Influencers: Bob Lord
Bob Lord, a self-described “recovering English major,” launched PARMA Recordings in 2008. Seven years later, this New England-based company—which specializes in orchestral, chamber, choral, and commercial recording—has 18 full-time employees and serves as parent to five labels. Navona, Ravello, and Big Round Records are still actively recording, while MMC and Capstone, two older labels, have a rich catalog from which PARMA mines reissues. Each month brings six to eight new releases.
Although he is a producer, composer, and bassist, Lord considers himself an outsider in the music business. Eschewing a conservatory education, he argues, provided him with fresh perspectives and led him to question the traditional ways that recording companies operate. Favoring forward-thinking composers who “smash the walls of genre[s] and create ground-breaking new sounds while keeping one foot firmly rooted in tradition,” Lord is especially proud of albums such as Sergio Cervetti’s 2012 Navona release, Nazca. The Uruguayan-American composer’s work for string orchestra, enthuses Lord, is “Latin-American, minimalist, Baroque music.”
PARMA’s releases also include works by Pulitzer Prize-winners Lewis Spratlan and Donald Martino and performances by recently retired New York Philharmonic concertmaster Glenn Dicterow and jazz bassist Eddie Gomez. Lord has also produced albums by clarinetist Richard Stoltzman and Pete Townshend of The Who. PARMA complements its recording activities by offering distribution, product design, strategic marketing, licensing, and publishing services. Every August the company also hosts an annual PARMA Music Festival in Portsmouth, NH, to showcase contemporary music. Lord also serves as composer and bassist for the experimental rock trio Dreadnaught and music director for The Music Hall/New Hampshire Public Radio series Writers on a New England Stage. In the end, however, he insists that PARMA is “the most valuable thing I ever did.”