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Martin Levan is a music producer and sound engineer who, during the 1980s and 1990s, designed the sound for many of the major musicals in the West End of London.
Levan began his career as the tea boy at Morgan Studios, London in 1971, rising to become an engineer and producer. His album credits include John Martyn's Grace and Danger, Ralph McTell's Water of Dreams, Iron Maiden's eponymous album, Neil Ardley's Kaleidoscope of Rainbows and Harmony of the Spheres, Collosseum II's Wardance, Andrew Lloyd Webber's Variations and Requiem, Gary Boyle's The Dancer and Electric Glide and Barbara Thompson's Paraphernalia.
Levan's career developed in a different direction when, in 1982, Andrew Lloyd Webber contracted him to supervise the sound design for the original production of the musical Song and Dance at the Palace Theatre, London. He also produced a live recording of the first night performance. The impact of the sound production for the show led to him designing the sound for a number of musicals throughout the world over the next two decades, and regularly collaborating with Lloyd Webber.
With Lloyd Webber, he worked on the original 1984 London and 1987 Broadway productions of Starlight Express, the 1985 original Broadway production of Song and Dance, the 1986 London and 1988 Broadway productions of The Phantom of the Opera. In all productions of the show, the overture is partially pre-recorded, with the orchestra playing along with a track originally created by Levan using a Yamaha DX5 keyboard, in his home studio.
He also collaborated with Lloyd Webber on the original 1989 London production of Aspects of Love, the 1991 revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the London Palladium, the original 1993 London and 1994 Broadway productions of Sunset Boulevard, the original 1998 London production of Whistle Down the Wind, the original 2000 London production of The Beautiful Game and international productions of Cats.
In 1988, while preparing the design for Aspects of Love, he developed the 'A-B System' to combat problems associated with the conventional method of combining multiple radio microphones systems on stage. Phase related interference patterns resulting in coloration and distortion in the sound system had hitherto been unavoidable but the use of the 'A-B System' effectively eliminated this phenomenon providing the audience with a much more natural, clearer and more focussed sound.
His original Broadway cast recording of Cats won a Grammy Award. Other awards include a NAACP Theatre Award for Best Sound Director for The Phantom of the Opera, a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Sound Design for Sunset Boulevard and a Jessie Richardson Theatre Award for Outstanding Design Team Achievement for Show Boat.
Return to the Recording Studio
In 1998, Martin conceived and built the Red Kite Studio music recording facility in Carmarthenshire, Wales. He continues to produce and record there.
During 2010, he worked with Leeds-based guitarist and vocalist Tristan Mackay on some demo recordings before collaborating on his debut album Out Along the Wire which was released in February 2012, reaching No.1 on the iTunes Blues chart.
Martin and his wife Karen live in Wales. They have three children: Remy, Toby and Kim.