Copyright © 2016 Quill Classics
“Are you Quill Classics?”
A record producer once asked me that question with a knowing smile. I
confessed that I was. He, of course, knew all about single-person
enterprises, since he too “was” a record label. But a label is just as much its
artists as its staff, and in this I’ve been extremely fortunate.
Before Quill Classics, I had been involved in a lot of other things; to trim
down the story, however, I’ll skip ahead to my work in the music business.
In 1993, after a decade and a half as a professor of English, I began
working at Video Artists International, a company that specialized in
classical music videos and had just begun to add CDs to its catalogue.
Since VAI was a relatively small company, we all learned many skills. As a
product manager, I was in charge of graphic design, matters editorial, some
A&R, advertising, artist liaisons, audio oversight, and so on. When I moved
to Sony Classical in 1997—first as a part-timer, later full-time—I was in
another universe. The classical department was enormous, taking up two
whole floors on Madison Avenue, not including the art department, which
was another floor unto itself. I began in editorial and moved over to product
management, though much later, I returned to editorial as an independent
contractor for some special projects, including a 90-CD box set of Yo-Yo
Ma’s recordings for Columbia and Sony.
But before my return to Sony—and about the time that Yale University
Press published Bruno Walter: A World Elsewhere (2001), a biography that
my wife, Rebecca Pechefsky, and I had spent years writing—I moved a few
blocks westward from the Sony building over to Carnegie Hall, where I
oversaw the editorial content of program books for its three halls as well as
numerous educational publications, blogs, websites, ads, calendars, libretti,
and pretty much anything else involving the written word. This lasted for
seven years, during which time I heard about 250 extraordinary concerts
and developed a nearly mortal case of burnout.
So where does Quill Classics come into the picture? In 1997, I felt I might be
ready to start my own label—one that wouldn’t hesitate to issue the
complete harpsichord music of, say, François d’Agincour. I’d already been
impressed in the 1970s (during my days studying lute with Anthony Bailes
in Basel) at the little independent labels then sprouting up in the European
early-music scene—Reflexe, Accent, Astrée, Seon—and later was
particularly inspired by the Wildboar label in the United States. Since I had
plenty of experience producing CDs from beginning to end, I made a
sample CD, and as Rebecca and I searched for a logo, we found a cartoon
image of a porcupine, which naturally had quills on it. Quills go with
harpsichords, so Quill Classics was born. Rebecca later bought an
exquisite eighteenth-century French engraving of a porcupine, and that
prickly beast has become our official logo. In 2002, we began producing
CDs in earnest, though at a very moderate and, I might add, civilized rate.
My high school fascination with photography came in handy when I
decided—after recognizing what YouTube had to offer—to add videos to
the Quill Classics catalogue. More and more I’ve been working on videos of
performances in live and controlled conditions by the excellent musicians in
New York City’s early-music world. I learned much from working with the
talented Hilan Warshaw of Overtone Films, which collaborated with Quill
Classics on several videos. Plans are afoot for more QC videos, so stay
tuned. In the meantime, please explore the offerings on this website.
Thanks for reading and, I hope, listening,
President and Chief Lutenist, Quill Classics
Contact Quill Classics at