Some of us were at St Mary’s Cathedral last night to help in the preparation of a series of three ‘Songs of Praise ‘ TV Programmes (actually there were about a million other singers there too!).
It was somewhat bizarre because there were no cameras or camerapersons gliding up and down the aisle, or zooming in on an enthusiastic singer. No, just a small booklet with 6 hymns, microphones all over the place, a brass ensemble, organist, a large number of people walking round with headphones and noteboards, and a conductor on an elevated podium, so that we could all see him.
We were there for the first of two evenings; this one was to simply practise and record the sound tape for the six hymns….(did I say ‘simply’?).
To get several hundred singers, with various skill-levels, and the occasional prima-donna thrown in, to sing as a coherent group, and in time with the organ, the brass ensemble, and the conductor, was no mean task! The Conductor was as fullsome in his praise as he was un-compromising in his criticism. It was not only him who had to be pleased because there was an independent Music Advisor and the Executive Producer. Each ‘take’ had to be assessed by all and approved by each in turn. I don’t think there were more than three ‘takes’ for any of them…thank goodness!
There was a lot of standing up and sitting down, and by the end of the 3 1/2 hours, we were all very tired! Tomorrow night we go for the ‘visuals’ where they use the cameras, and the music is conducted but not recorded. We will only hear the recordings we made last night and it is conducted to that speed. The cameras do their work of looking for viewable faces and shots of the building. The sound and vision will all be patched together so that it looks like it was all done at one time. No doubt the presenter, soloists, choir etc will be included and the finished results will seem joined-up.
Must go and get my shirt ironed, hair tidied, and teeth polished for tomorrow night!….have to please my audience after all!