Posted at 8:36 AM on January 22, 2009
by John Birge
Hi, we're back. Didn't have time to blog yesterday; I was busy producing our London VocalEssence broadcast. This can be highly glamourous. Take, for example, the improvised recording studio in my tiny hotel room:
This is where I had to pre-record some announcements before the concert. Pillows around the microphone reduce the echo sound in the room. The toilet paper rolls just happened to stack up to the right height to place the mic. Meanwhile, over at St. John's, Smith Square, engineer Simon Weir and his concert recording crew had a rather more high-tech setup to capture the VocalEssence concert, though still in a decidedly non-glam back room at the church.
But it's not the back room that matters here, it's the main performance hall where VocalEssence sang their Inauguration Day concert. Beautiful acoustics for the ear, and lovely to the eye:
St. John's, Smith Square is only a few blocks south of Westminster Abbey, tucked into a rather posh residential neighborhood favored by members of Parliament. St. John's is often called 'Queen Anne's Footstool' because as legend has it, when the archictect designing the church asked Queen Anne what she wanted it to look like, she kicked over her footstool upside-down and said "Like that!", giving rise to the building's four corner towers.
It was firebombed to a ruin in WWII, sold to a charitable trust, and turned into a concert hall with one of the best acoustic spaces in London. It's the home of the London Chamber Orchestra, and a favorite destination for a who's who of visiting A-list classical musicians, including VocalEssence.
Wednesday included a packed afternoon concert at St. Giles Cripplegate in London. Today it's onward to Cambridge, and a visit to the famous King's College Chapel.
That's where the King's College Choir performs their famous Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols every Christmas Eve. And that's where VocalEssence performs tomorrow evening. I'll try to record a bit of today's rehearsal for you, and share that music with you when when I phone in another live update to Steve Staruch on Classical Minnesota Public Radio tomorrow morning, around 8am CT.