FSU physics professor keeps music playing

Greg Latta plays recorder for a recording he is making in his in-home studio. Latta says he plays all of the instruments on his songs. 

FROSTBURG — Greg Latta is bringing music to classrooms and audiences around the area.

“Many people don’t know that I have a second job,” said Latta, a physics professor at Frostburg State University. “I’m also a musician.”

Latta has run his studio, Latta Sound Works, since he arrived in Frostburg around 1989. He records other musicians’ tracks as well as his own in his home-based studio.

Currently, Latta is producing Tom Hawk’s second record, “Earning My Spurs.” Hawk is a competitive western yodeler and former chair of management at FSU.

Latta has also produced a Christmas album of a local barber shop quartet, Just 4 Fun, which was titled “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” He recorded almost all of FSU’s wind ensemble and choral ensemble concerts for the past 25 years.

Latta has received many awards for his music, recently receiving two Individual Artist Awards in solo musical performance from the Maryland State Arts Council. He is applying for the award again and must meet a deadline of July 21. The awards are given yearly, but the award that he applies for — Non-Classical Solo Music Performance — is awarded once every three years.

Latta received his first Individual Artist Award in 2012; the second came in 2015. He opened for the Individual Artist Award ceremony in 2015, where he performed on the cittern, guitar and harmonica, according to his website.

Latta said that he is “very passionate and serious” about his music. He records and edits every part of his releases, including vocals and background instruments. He said that it could take weeks to record and produce a song for competitions such as the Individual Artist Award.

“Every syllable, every word is worked on. It takes forever,” Latta said.

His recordings include many different instruments, such as the hammered dulcimer (a Persian instrument), guitar, harmonica and recorder, among many others. He has released and performed songs of many styles, including classical, Appalachian, bluegrass, jazz, blues and folk.

Latta performs year-round. He has performed for the National Park Service, the Celtic festival in Friendsville and the Hampshire County Art Camp. During the school year, though, his performances take a back seat to his main job as a professor.

“In the summertime, I perform frequently. Once I get into the school year, it’s mighty hard to find extra time. Being a professor takes priority,” Latta said.

He said his background in physics has helped him in his musical career.

“When I’m working on a sound, unlike a standard musician, I know what’s going on and why it’s working and how it’s working. Knowing the science behind the music, such as the mathematics of musical scales and harmony, helps tremendously with arranging, and understanding the physics of waves and sound is invaluable when playing an instrument or recording,” Latta said.

Latta has also spread his love of music through his radio show, “Just Plain Folks,” which airs on FSU’s radio station WFWM. His show is the longest-running on the station, and he has been doing it for 27 years. The show is almost always live.

“My goal for the individual listener is to take them away from the present to somewhere they haven’t been before,” said Latta.

Between his radio and his performances, Latta has helped bring all types of music to classrooms and audiences around the area.

Contact Makea Luzader at mluzader@terpmail.umd.edu.

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