WPI Wire, Vol. 10, No. 1 - Spring 1996

Alumni Chronicle

Musician plays to listeners worldwide on the Web

Composer and recording artist Bill Rutherford '73 can be heard over radio stations in the Pacific Northwest, but music lovers anywhere can tune in to his home page on the World Wide Web to download samples from his debut CD, Sands o f Time. The album features 12 original compositions for synthesizer and piano, borrowing from jazz, new age, classical and Latin traditions, with a little R&B and rock thrown in.

Rutherford is supervisor of engineering for the U.S. Department of Energy and the owner of Saint Thomas Music, the record company named for his pet Saint Bernard, Thomas, who passed away several years ago. "Writing music has been a lifelong passion," says Rutherford, who played percussion at Burncoat High School and in an all-city orchestra that included WPI, Clark and Holy Cross students. In his college days, he had time to play piano in the practice rooms in Alden Memorial. Later, his music had to take a backseat to raising a family and earning a living.

"The desire to write music has always been there, but I didn't know where to start. Finally, I just decided to do it and keep working at it and not worry about whether I was doing it right or wrong. Sands of Time is dedicated to the memory of my mother, w ho loved music and always encouraged me to pursue my dream," says the 44-year-old composer, who lives in Richland, Wash., with his wife, Susan. The CD recently made the Top-50 list for international music in Germany and is getting airplay on Radio Brazil.

"Achieving this milestone would have been extremely difficult without the technological advances in electronic instruments and the growth of the Internet," Rutherford continues. Having his own record label and marketing electronically allows a new artist like Rutherford to reach a wide audience without making artistic compromises. In an interview on NorthWest Public Radio, Rutherford discussed the restrictions of signing on with an established recording company. "I always said, if this became like a job, I probably wouldn't want to do it. I like the freedom to create."

Working from his home studio, Rutherford records his own arrangements, turning to a local recording studio to assemble the tracks and equalize volume between songs. "I was surprised at how much time and effort went into mixing and taping, but I learned a great deal."

Rutherford says he would like to perform locally, and plans to release some of his backlog of material on a second CD this summer. His long-range ambitions are to write a movie soundtrack and to have his music performed by a full orchestra. A current proj ect is to register his Web page so that it can be easily accessed by browsers. Information on Saint Thomas Music and an audio sampling of Sands of Time can be found at http://www.cbvcp.com/stmusic. Those without Web access may dial 800-704-8904 to hear ex cerpts by telephone.

-- Joan Killough-Miller

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