Sally and the Classical Album – Part 1

I have written about working with Sally Greenaway before. She has continued, as always, to be busy and it is time for a bit of an update.

Many months ago now I had the pleasure of mixing a CD of Big Band recordings for Sally Greenaway. The album came up sounding great. You can hear it here, or better still, buy it from here.

Since then, Sally has embarked on making an album of her classical compositions. I have been lucky enough to record and mix many of the pieces that are part this project.

Poems:

Canberra Boys Grammar dining hall

The first session I worked on, way back in August 2013, was a piano and cello recording of 3 “Poems” at the Canberra Boys Grammar dining hall.

Sally played piano and Gillian Pereira played cello.

We couldn’t begin recording until the school borders had eaten their dinner and the kitchen staff had cleaned up.

I close mic’d the piano with earthworks omnis and the cello with a Microtech Gefell tube mic. I put a stereo pair at the foot of the stage and a couple of pencil mics down the back of the hall for some room tone.

The hall was warm when we arrived but the heating was switched off once dinner had finished and the hall got colder as the session went on.

As it got colder we had to spend more time checking the tuning of the cello and cold hands made it that little bit harder. Eventually we got great performances of each piece and the sound of the stereo pair and room mics was terrific.

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Luminescence:

The next part of this project was in late November. I recorded 2 songs performed by the vocal group Luminescence at the Canberra School of Music. The recording was done in lecture theatre 1 on the 5th floor, which is a nice large space but it also presented a few challenges in terms of the general cement / bessa block, brutalist design of the room providing a ‘distinct’ acoustic, and then there was the added bonus of air-conditioning noise which we could not switch off.

Still, we found a good sounding spot in the room for the group and managed to address the issues with some careful mic placement.

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Luminescence are great, a group of accomplished vocalists who combine beautifully.

String Group – The Feud Suite:

The most recent part of this project was the recording of a 5 piece string group.  Sally had already recorded the piano for  6 short pieces which comprise The Feud Suite. This recording was done in the home teaching space of Barbara Jane Gilby  – a purpose built room with a nice high ceiling, wooden floor and, most importantly as we were in the middle of a heatwave, an air-conditioner which,  even more importantly, we could turn off when it came time to record.

The group comprised:img_1857-001

Barbara Jane Gilby – 1st Violin. One of Australia’s premier violinists.

Tim Wickham – 2nd Violin. A member of Co-opera amongst many other thing

Xina Hawkins – Viola. Worked with Canberra and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

Alex Voorhoeve – Cello. Canberra Symphony Orchestra and many other diverse projects

Kyle Daniel – Bass. Canberra Symphony Orchestra.

So, no slouches.

I used a blumlien pair to make up the main sound and image and had a spot mic on each instrument in case an instrument need a bit of support in the final mix. For a room mic I put an earthworks omni as high up as I could get it to catch some of the space of the room. I also got to try out my new prism orpheus a/d converters (Mmmm, very nice).

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The group made short work of the session. There was a brief discussion about the tone/character required and then a few takes of each and it was done. Great music, great musicians and a tip top sounding room to record them in. It doesn’t get better then this. After all the tracks were done it was time for cake and cups of tea all round.

 

Thanks for all the photos by Peter Levan.

I’m off to do my bit for the next part of the album tonight …  recording a chamber orchestra at the Wesley Music Centre.