Eric Berlin Uses Photography to Promote Music in New Book “Music for the Eyes”

Eric Berlin
Eric Berlin
Photograph taken from Eric Berlin's book: Music for the Eyes: Albany Symphony Musicians at Work
Photograph taken from Eric Berlin's book: “Music for the Eyes: Albany Symphony Musicians at Work”

Eric Berlin, professor of trumpet in the department of music and dance, has added photography to an already extensive list of artistic skills.

Berlin’s skill with a trumpet is well-known. His 2018 recording with the Albany Symphony Orchestra was listed as a top 10 classical album of 2018 by NPR. Now, his skill with a camera has led to a book being published featuring 80 of his pictures that capture the behind-the-scenes work of the Albany Symphony Orchestra. The book, titled “Music for the Eyes: Albany Symphony Musicians at Work,” captures the environment and energy that goes into making the performance that the audience watches.

“I have always snapped photos on my travels, but it was not until I got a hand-me-down digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) that I found a creative outlet through the camera,” Berlin says. “Getting a higher quality image than I could with my small point-and-shoot led me to consider compositionand depth of field, among other things.”

Berlin’s work as a photographer covers everything from nature to the concert halls he performs in. Images Berlin captures of music and dance students at UMass are printed on walls of the hallways in the department of music and dance and are often used in promotional materials for the department, as they capture the energy and passion of the performers in a way that cannot be replicated through word of mouth.

“Musicians rehearse and perform in beautiful venues; our instruments are often incredibly compelling as works of art themselves and there is a joyous energy in musicians at work which is not always apparent from the other side of the invisible wall separating artist from audience,” says Berlin.

Berlin similarly captures images of the Albany Symphony Orchestra. The pictures displayed in the book created“a behind the scenes look at the Albany Symphony Orchestra, which is known worldwide for its mission of commissioning and recording American music of our time,” says Berlin. “I realized that there were historic moments happening almost every week with premiers of new works by the most well-known composers of our time and soloists of the highest caliber.”

Berlin, who is currently on sabbatical leave, says that staying focused on a performer’s pure artistic vision is difficult while instructing young players on their technique. During his sabbatical leave, he is restoring that focus and vision by preparing a “monumental concerto” called Heimdall’s Trumpet, by Christopher Rouse in the Albany Symphony Orchestra. Berlin will return to teaching UMass trumpet majors in the fall of 2020.