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Retired Anesthesiologist Turns To Musical Recording In Tenafly

Alan Van Poznak has recorded the concerts at Tenafly Middle School for nearly 28 years. His setup can be elaborate or compact like this recording device he set up to fit in his jacket. Photo Credit: Arthur Augustyn
Van Poznak typically shows up well before any of the performers and sets up his equipment. Photo Credit: Arthur Augustyn

TENAFLY, N.J. — A concert ends and immediately it's clear: that was one of the best performances you've ever heard. But now it's locked away in your mind's spotty memory. It's gone.

Tenafly's Alan Van Poznak didn't think that was right. He started recording.

"I would hear [music] and I would think ‘this is so wonderful, just to have it be lost is not right.' It should be saved," Van Poznak said. 

This year he'll celebrate his 28th year recording Tenafly Middle School's musical performances. 

Van Poznak was introduced to the school nearly thirty years ago by his granddaughter Marissa. She asked him to record her concert and he obliged.

He decided to pass out copies of the recording to friends and family. Soon the word spread and the school itself requested copies. 

"What started out as an entertainment thing became a teaching thing," Van Poznak said.

The school now relies on Van Poznak's recordings as a teaching tool. Orchestra Director Nick Rzonsa uses the recordings to allow students the opportunity to hear themselves and how they can improve.

"It’s a great learning tool for them to have this quality recording of themselves," Rzonsa said.

Rzonsa uploads Van Poznak's recordings to the middle school's website. The free recordings are available to the public.

Van Poznak has become legendary at the school. 

"It wouldn’t be a concert without him," Rzonsa said. 

"He’s an established presence. Everybody knows and loves him."

His interest in recording began at a young age. He was intrigued by Thomas Edison's invention of the phonograph. A 10-year-old Van Poznak attempted to replicate the invention using a pie pan, candle wax and a needle.

"It worked a little bit, but that was enough to encourage me," Van Poznak said.

Now 89 years old, Van Poznak has recorded dozens of musicians in church halls, musical venues and schools.

Originally an anesthesiologist, Van Poznak retired after working in the field for 52 years.

"I’m sure they were very happy to get rid of me," Van Poznak said.

He's happy to lend a hand and assist students discover their talents. For him, that's the goal of his contributions. 

"It's so rewarding helping people get to where they want to go," Van Poznak said.

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