Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Inspiration and Achievement: FAU professors up for Latin Grammy Award

A look into FAU professors Alejandro Sanchez-Samper and Matt Baltrucki’s Latin Grammy Nomination.
Dan Nering
Alejandro Sanchez-Samper and Matt Baltrucki

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated where the album was recorded.

The sound and music from the Colombian Quinteto Leopoldo Federico’s newest album, El Trébol Agorero, contains rich, vibrant instrumentation and composition that characterize the group’s tango heritage right through a pair of speakers. The niche, Colombian tango-style interpretations on the record tell a story through the ensemble’s bandoneon, piano, guitar, double bass, and violin- all recorded at Estudios Audiovisión in Colombia. With positive reception coming all the way from Colombia and now receiving a Latin Grammy nomination for the “Best Folk Album” award, many listeners may be unaware that the audio engineers behind this album are two FAU professors.

FAU music professor and faculty advisor of Hoot/Wisdom Recordings Alejandro Sanchez-Samper makes it clear that music and sound are everything. A child of the eighties, Sanchez-Samper grew up in the age of the Sony Walkman and admired the provocative nature that encompasses music. By the age of thirteen, it was clear that he was looking to pursue music as a full-time career and would begin his journey as quickly as possible. In 1992, Sanchez-Samper recorded and edited his first album project in Colombia but remained hungry to learn more about his passion. He then relocated to the U.S., where he earned a master’s degree in music from the University of Miami. Sanchez-Samper pursued his education even further and earned a selection for the ASCAP film scoring program in Aspen, Colorado, where he received mentorship from world-renowned film composers like John Williams, Howard Shore, and Thomas Newman.

Working alongside Samper-Sanchez on the album was FAU commercial music associate professor and faculty advisor for the FAU chapter of the Audio Engineering Society Matt Baltrucki. Baltrucki took on a more technical role as the co-recording engineer and mastering engineer of the album. Much like his colleague, Baltrucki started his musical journey early in his life but realized that there weren’t many opportunities through the K-12 system to enable the  music performance career he would later pursue. 

As a guitarist, Baltrucki sought to grab hold of the advancements in audio engineering that were evolving in the transition period between the 1990s and 2000s. 

“It kind of just like, went hand in hand for a while with guitar,” Baltrucki says, “And then I realized I liked the sonic part of it and manipulating audio and having the creativity in the recording studio.”  

The Latin Recording Academy is the established global authority on Latin music and produces the Latin Grammy Awards annually. Receiving a Latin Grammy nomination is an accolade that recognizes the outstanding achievement and performance from the Latin Recording Academy, and the two’s work on this record speaks for itself. 

“I guess it’s important to know at this moment, we don’t do albums for nominations,” says Sanchez-Samper, “It’s like we’re working on the album, and I’m already thinking of the next one, you know?” 

Regarding the difficulties navigating the recording process, Sanchez-Samper says, “When you have five musicians on the same stage with the microphones open, you are going to get bleed between them. So managing that bleed is very tricky.” In order to capture the right sounds that helped acquire the recognition of a Latin Grammy nomination, the two professors said they needed to make sure there was enough creativity in capturing the Quinteto’s sounds and arrangements.

“We were spoiled,” Sanchez-Samper and Baltrucki agree, “The biggest winner that we have this time around in a controlled environment was the double bass.” In comparison to the previous recordings that Alejandro and Matt have produced, the two are decidedly enthusiastic about the results from having recorded in the campus studio versus recordings performed on a stage. 

“This particular album was treated somewhere in between jazz and acoustic, kind of like classical acoustic music production,” Baltrucki said.

Through the extraordinary education and engineering talent that FAU’s faculty delivers consistently, Sanchez-Samper believes that students hoping to develop their audio engineering skills into a future career consider joining their program. 

“Get as much music education as you can and experience as you can,” Sanchez-Samper suggests, “But I also think that you definitely have to have a grasp on the technology. I think even more important than the grasp of technology [is] you have to have a solid work ethic. You can have all the technology in the world, and you know, if you don’t have a solid work ethic, you can’t get stuff done.” 

Among other operational aspects of sound recording, Baltrucki believes that in order to succeed in the industry, you have to say yes to experience. “Don’t say no to things when gigs pop up. When new experiences pop up that you could be a part of, even if you’re not sure you’d be very interested in it.” 

The world of music and audio engineering is a steep journey that can explode into various paths that can be difficult to navigate. Baltrucki said he desired to understand the technology driving the audio engineering field forward, adapt to change, and tap into his own creativity.

“Working with musicians… bringing people’s visions to a reality through the recorded medium that we now kind of take for granted.” 

From Sanchez-Samper’s perspective, students have the opportunity to take advantage of FAU’s Hoot/Wisdom Recordings each  semester as they seek out talent from the engineering and performing side. “It’s what we continue to do. It gives our students the practical experience making records and marketing and doing live music, and you know it gives other FAU students opportunities to grow their careers.”

Kyle Santiago is a contributing writer at the University Press. For more information on this story or other stories, you can reach him at [email protected] or reach out on Instagram @kylesantiago.wav.

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    RyanOct 16, 2023 at 1:04 pm

    Amazing article. Informational and inspiring!