CTC sound design fellow Jordan Tani merges interests in music, theater

Reporter’s note: Each summer, Chautauqua Theater Company opens its stage doors to young actors and theatermakers for a fully funded fellowship. This summer’s conservatory includes 14 actors, four design fellows and one directing fellow. They will work alongside CTC staff and visiting professionals, and serve as the core of the theater company for all CTC shows. To help readers get to know them, interviews with CTC conservatory members will run regularly in the weekend edition of the Daily throughout the summer.

Who: Jordan Tani, 24, the sound fellow with the CTC conservatory.

Tani assists all visiting sound designers for the mainstage shows this season — Noises Off, Detroit ’67 and Romeo & Juliet. He created the sound design for the CTC After Dark production of One Arm and the New Play Workshop production of Building the Wall. A major project for him this season was composing original music for the New Play Workshop production of Birthday Candles.


Where he’s from: Tani grew up in Mammoth Lakes, California. When he was 6 years old, a professional piano trio took up residence in the area and came to local elementary schools to teach kids about music. Tani started playing cello and practiced music through high school.

He is about to go into the third and final year of his M.F.A program in sound design at the University of California, Irvine. He previously attended the University of California, San Diego to study music literature and technology. After becoming involved in the production of a student musical, he became more interested in theater.

Theater credits: Before coming to Chautauqua, Tani worked on sound design for a short student film and video game at UC Irvine. His theater experience includes time at South Coast Repertory and Geffen Playhouse.

After Chautauqua, he will be working on Plumas Negras by Juliette Carrillo and a production of American Idiot.

Dream job: Tani hopes to someday work in sound for an animation studio such as Pixar, Dreamworks or Laika.

“You’re building an entire world based off of the visuals,” Tani said. “And animation is so great in that we can really be transported to a completely new world with a new set of rules, and having to build those sounds that feel like that world is so fun.”

In a perfect world, Tani said he would have a job in animation during the day, and then be able to work in a theater at night. He and friends are also working toward creating an Asian-American theater company in the Orange County area.

Musical talents: Although Tani grew up playing the cello, his music interests have expanded to drums and the flute. He plays drums in the Japanese Tsukasa Taiko style, and can play both the bamboo and western key flutes.

Favorite food: “Probably curry,” Tani said. “Japanese curry. It’s like a comfort food. If I could eat that any time, any day — it’s just one of my favorite things to have.”

What he’s reading: It’s not a book, but digital anthology series “Seat 14C,” that’s capturing Tani’s attention right now.

“The project is aimed at both creating really beautiful stories but then also helping scientists see what authors think of technology and how we might be able to incorporate some of these technologies as we progress forward,” Tani said.

Why Chautauqua: Working in a new environment with the visiting professional designers, and seeing their creative process, has been the most important aspect of the CTC experience for Tani.

“One of the best things is working with the designers and being their assistants because each one of them is completely unique in how they work,” Tani said.

Tags : Chautauqua Theater CompanyctcJordan TaniThe Artstheater

The author Dara McBride

A recent graduate of Syracuse University’s Goldring Arts Journalism program, she comes to Chautauqua after covering Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina, for The Post and Courier. A Delaware native, she spent three years as a lifestyles editor on Maryland’s Eastern Shore writing about local authors, musicians and artists. Her work has also appeared in American Theatre magazine. She can be reached at or @DaraMcBride.