2006-07-14 / Entertainment

Making it to the 'Big Time'

Local student goes from small time intern to concert producer
BY LINDSAY SAUVAGEAU CHAMPION STAFF WRITER

Alex Koroskenyi was attending the New England Institute of Art when he landed the internships that started his career. SUBMITTED PHOTO Alex Koroskenyi was attending the New England Institute of Art when he landed the internships that started his career. SUBMITTED PHOTO Imagine you're 20 years old and buying dinner for B.B. King, hiring stage and lighting crews for artists like Sammy Hagar and 50 Cent, and carrying out a few special requests for Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Leominster High graduate Alexander Koroskenyi has helped produce almost 70 concerts at venues like Gillette Stadium and the TD Banknorth Garden, has coordinated 15 shows by himself, and he hasn't even finished college yet.

Koroskenyi said he knew he had found his calling in life a year ago. It was his first time working with his boss (whom Koroskenyi preferred to leave unnamed), the former production manager for Frank Sinatra and he was about to watch a performance by country singer Kenney Chesney at Gillette Stadium.

"It was right before the show and I was looking out over the field and he came up to me and said, 'welcome to the big time.' It felt great."

Koroskenyi was attending the New England Institute of Art in Brookline when he received his big break. When first applying to the school, Koroskenyi's original interest was in musical recording. He studied audio production until he quickly found himself drawn to the business side of the music industry.

"I took every business course they had instead of labs," said Koroskenyi.

"One day my soon-to-be boss was a guest lecturer in one of my classes. He is one of the top production managers in the world, one of the original founders of the term 'production manager.'"

After class and over coffee, Koroskenyi and the music guru spoke about the ins and outs of the industry. It wasn't long before the possibility of an internship came up and Koroskenyi jumped at the chance to work side by side with a music industry icon.

"He told me, 'I can see the fire in your eyes and the drive you have,'" said Koroskenyi.

It wasn't long before he was out of the classroom and into his field, carrying out office odds and ends while learning the business of concert production. After interning twice, his boss and now friend offered him a job.

"I became his second in command, ordering people twice my age, it was awesome," said Koroskenyi.

Koroskenyi has worked as both a production assistant, helping his boss with all of the many tasks that go into producing large-scale concerts and as the second in command for such concerts, filling the role of assistant production manager.

"It's similar to being a general contractor," he said. "We get money from a promoter to put out a show and then it's pretty much all of the work that goes into erecting a 60yard stage in the span of a week.

"I make sure the line of sight is right for audiences and workers to set up the stage and hire sound and lighting workers through a labor union or company. Sometimes artists will send lists of specific things they want, lights and speakers and stuff, but most of the work is in the phone calls and e-mails and meetings with the bands, which 'advance' the show. It's great being able to see it all happen and come together."

Koroskenyi has helped produce concerts at eight different major venues and worked with a wide variety of artists and performers. He has worked with hot new artists like Eminem, Green Day, Coldplay and Ludacris as well as musical legends like B.B. King, Elton John, the Rolling Stones and Tom Petty.

Koroskenyi himself performs in his own band, East 117, with his two brothers Anthony, 22, and Andre, 18. As a guitarist, he says he was most honored to have worked with blues legend B.B. King.

"It made it special for me to have been involved in producing the show," he said.

But despite the many perks, Koroskenyi said his job isn't always that easy. Working with particular artists can sometimes be difficult.

He cited legendary classic rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd as being very demanding.

"They wanted what they wanted, right away, no questions," he said.

Other times bands can come up with some unusual requests. Koroskenyi said he recently found himself searching the aisles of a Wal-Mart for Pedialyte as a request from Sammy Hagar. Hagar apparently drank large amounts on stage and needed the children's drink for relief.

"He said it calmed his stomach after he performed," he said,

In the end, however, Koroskenyi insisted that most professionals are just that - professional.

"Usually everyone is like you and me," he said. "[Rap artist] 50 Cent was down to earth, laid back with no worries and people think that because these people are so famous, with so much money that they wouldn't be. But really, with all that money, what do they have to worry about?"

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