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Any suggestions for a recording venue ?

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Dear Colleagues,

 

Here is a challenge for you !

 

I have been asked to accompany a choir in a recording of James Whitbourn's Missa Carolae.

 

If, like me, you have not come across this before, it was written in 2004 for Midnight Mass at Rochester Cathedral. The mass is set to the tunes of well known carols.

 

The organ part is conceived for a fairly large parish church / cathedral organ with, in particular, a prominent part for a solo reed.

 

We are looking for a suitable recording venue, but as it is an amateur (but extremely good) choir, there are some fairly tight restrictions, namely ;

 

* We cannot afford anywhere very expensive.

 

* The venue needs to be within reasonable reach of London (Oxford Colleges are actively being considered).

 

* West and South of London would be preferred.

 

* As recording will take place over the weekend, a non - liturgical building (eg, school chapel) would be preferable, alternatively, a church without a busy Sunday programme of events.

 

* The organ should be of reasonable size with, ideally, some sort of solo reed. We have found a number of places which fit all of the above criteria, but which have small, classical organs that will not quite give the effect that Whitbourn intended.

 

Just to get you started, our thoughts have so far included St Stephen Walbrook in the City, Tonbridge School Chapel, University College School, Hampstead and Exeter College, Oxford.

 

I would be very interested if any members can suggest other possibilities we might consider.

 

Regards to all,

M

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I have been asked to accompany a choir in a recording of James Whitbourn's Missa Carolae.

St Michael's, Highgate has a lovely resonant acoustic and a fine 3-manual Nicholson with a resplendent Tuba. There might, however, be problems with recording over a weekend as Sunday mornings are quite busy and there's normally an evening service too. No idea on charges but for an amateur outfit it might be negotiable. Do you suppose it could be managed in one day over three sessions?

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St John the Baptist, Holland Road in West London springs to mind.

4 manual Willis organ, with solo reed and only 1 Sunday service at 18:30, if I remember correctly, so that could be an option.

 

Holy Trinity South Kensington, St Peter Eaton Square, and St Stephen Gloucester road, all in West London too are also options for making bookings, and have suitable organs (3 manual R&D, new 4 manual Jones, and 3 manual N&B, respectively) with solo reeds, and all in good acoustics.

 

Many churches in the City of London, such as St. Stephen Walbrook that you've mentioned do not have services on weekends, so they could be the best options in London.

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When deciding on a venue, please remember to consider the proximity of Heathrow flight paths.

 

I was told that Kingston Parish Church invested in its Frobenius with a view to becoming a recording venue, forgetting that the 747 supply made recording there virtually impossible.

 

Whether that's true or not I cannot say, but the principle remains.

 

J

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St Augustine Queen's Gate are also options for making bookings, and have solo reeds, but the latter seems to have two Sunday services.

 

I used to practice here 40 years ago, but I'm sorry to say I thought the organ sounded dreadful... maybe it's better now? Try before you book.

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I used to practice here 40 years ago, but I'm sorry to say I thought the organ sounded dreadful... maybe it's better now? Try before you book.

I practised there for FRCO 30 years ago. There's a Great to Choir coupler and no Choir to Great, if I recall correctly. Can't remember what it sounded like!

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How about Reading Town Hall? Fabulous organ...

I once hired Reading Town Hall for an hour in order to play the organ with a friend; it cost me 2/6d (I still have the receipt), but it probably costs more now. I'd give my eye teeth for the opportunity to record it now!

 

Paul

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I used to practice here 40 years ago, but I'm sorry to say I thought the organ sounded dreadful... maybe it's better now? Try before you book.

 

Quite right, it certainly isn't anything remarkable and coming to remember it, the organ contains some of the most loud and horrible trumpets!

Maybe I shouldn't have recommended this one!

But they are quite good for bookings, and the acoustic is an advantage.

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St George's, Beckenham. IV manual with a very healthy Tuba. Nigel Groome of the RSCM is DOM and very friendly. Church is 1 min walk from Beckenham BR and Croydon tramlink. Not over generous acoustic but BBC do use it for the occasional broadcast.

 

H

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St Luke's Battersea is where Vasari Singers do most of their rehearsing. It's got a nice 3m Lewis, recently restored by Harrisons, with good colours and a nice solo reed. Gentle acoustic and friendly church.

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Sharp-pitched though. Might be an issue.
True, but not an impossible issue. I suspect if you didn't tell them, 95% of the choir probably wouldn't notice.

 

@ P W Hodges - yes, agreed! I can't think of many recordings of this organ. It really deserves to be heard and recorded more than it is. If we can put something together...

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Royal Holloway College chapel? (near Egham) Some risk of infrequent aircraft... but only an evening service on Sundays. Low risk of traffic noise. en chamade reed.

But I've no connection with the place and don't know who to ask, sorry.

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What about Kings College chapel, London. Mostly unused in holiday periods, and central. Should be far enough off the road not to be too affected by noise. I did a recording there about 15 years ago with the University of London Chamber Choir, and it came out well.

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Holy Trinity South Kensington, St Peter Eaton Square, and St Stephen Gloucester road, all in West London too are also options for making bookings, and have suitable organs (3 manual R&D, new 4 manual Jones, and 3 manual N&B, respectively) with solo reeds, and all in good acoustics.

 

Many churches in the City of London, such as St. Stephen Walbrook that you've mentioned do not have services on weekends, so they could be the best options in London.

I was Assistant at the first two churches mentioned. The Rushworth & Dreaper rebuild at Prince Consort Road has a Posaune on the Great (also available on the Choir) but it is not a solo reed.

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What about here?

 

I only played it once about 18 years ago but remember the building having just the right sort of acoustic and instrument for what you're after. I don't believe it is used much for weekend worship nowadays, if much at all. I can pass on contact details if you're interested.

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All Hallows' Gospel Oak NW3, regularly used for recordings (though not usually with org).. 4-manual 1915 Arthur Hill (last new Hill & Son instrument). Fine acoustic. Mass on Sunday at 10.00 but free after that. Organ flat (A-435).

 

Feel free to contact me if interested.

 

MPK

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All Hallows' Gospel Oak NW3, regularly used for recordings (though not usually with org).. 4-manual 1915 Arthur Hill (last new Hill & Son instrument). Fine acoustic. Mass on Sunday at 10.00 but free after that. Organ flat (A-435).

It is indeed a fine acoustic, as the Windsor choir's Tomkins and Parry recordings for Hyperion attest. Are you able to confirm its current condition though? It seemed somewhat precarious when I and others went to assess it for a recording some years and I went upstairs to play it.

 

A possible venue is Eton College Chapel...

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It is indeed a fine acoustic, as the Windsor choir's Tomkins and Parry recordings for Hyperion attest. Are you able to confirm its current condition though? It seemed somewhat precarious when I and others went to assess it for a recording some years and I went upstairs to play it.

 

A possible venue is Eton College Chapel...

 

Currently, its all working although with c100 year-old TP action, it has to be said that faults do easily develop. IMHO it is an extremely fine, vintage instrument and I'm keen to get it better known. Visits welcome!

 

mpk

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Here is a good venue - 'not sure about services but many use the building for recording.

 

A

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Two 'outsiders' -

 

1. St. Martin, Salisbury - gentle acoustic, much favoured for chamber music. Frequently used by London groups to record, with a direct train to Salisbury. Hill organ, but can't remember if it has a solo reed.

 

2. St. Alban, Highgate, Birmingham - J.L. Pearson church with an amazing large acoustic, used to be used frequently by the BBC for early choral stuff but the neighbourhood went downhill and the BBC stopped calling. Now much improved. 3 manual Rushworth with a heroic solo Tromba/Tuba.

 

Both have Sunday morning services, but nothing in the evening except on the odd occasion.

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Dear colleagues,

 

Many thanks for these most helpful suggestions ; I feel quite overwhelmed by the number of venues proposed.

 

At the moment the choir seems to be closing in on the City of London School for Boys, but I will certainly bear these suggestions in mind. The choir is often on the lookout for new venues for this type of project, so it may well be that we come back to one or more of these in the future.

 

Kind regards,

M

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