Vespers recording, leftover thoughts

  1. What kept me up at night the most was knowing I had to produce, as in be Producer, the last two days. This week was the only time we could get everyone together, including Donald and others from Chicago and Atlanta, since so many are going from one summer festival to another. George produced Monday and Tuesday and took a red-eye train to Boston for a seminar he was already committed to leading.
  2. Monday and Tuesday I didn’t leave George’s side. George worked me into the process more and more as we went along.
  3. Tad was the engineer and so took care of making sure everything was being taped, and kept track of all of it in the log. He also listened for sounds that shouldn’t be there.
  4. That leaves it for the producer to listen to the music and all aspects of it: balance, tempo, wrong notes, interpretation, intonation, everything. Most of the time Donald catches these things before anything needs to be said.
  5. Also required is calling the track numbers, and keeping everything going. Sometimes the process needs to speed up, sometimes a philosophical viewpoint needs consideration, sometimes a time-out needs to be called to listen to a new balance structure, to move someone, or just to chill.
  6. Everyone needs to be respected, since everyone in the room is a wonderful musician
  7. It was great having our friend Becky on the job, who sings in Quidditas with us and has worked with Jackie many times over the years
  8. If you look at the main photo in the Inquirer article, the very tall singer to the right who looks like he has amazing dreadlocks, is Dan. He is a bass, and he is not only nice but as perky as a six-and-a-half-foot tall (at least?) bass could be. And he has amazing dreadlocks. He also has a father who has won a Pulitzer Prize in composition, and when we talked in January and I knew who Lewis Spratlan was, Dan was surprised and delighted and we talked shop for a while.
  9. The sopranos have lots and lots of high notes in them, and this one is nowhere near the highest, but the high G Rebecca Siler holds in Herr Christ, where 15 other voices cut out one by one to leave her all by herself (“und dürsten stets nach dir,” “so that we thirst for you”), is as moving as it gets.
  10. Actually, since Piffaro plays in A=463 rather than 440, the singers are singing a half-step higher than written. All those high A’s for the sopranos in Wie schön? Yep. Bb’s.
  11. I was hoping they wouldn’t notice but some of them thar whippersnappers have perfect pitch
  12. Stephen, often the tenor soloist, must be one of the most sought-after musicians in the city. Again, tremendous musician, again, tremendously nice.
  13. Bob and Joan handle some of the most intractable instruments (bass dulcian, great bass recorder) with such a light touch. Man, do they sound good. Piffaro is the bel canto of early-music groups. I don’t know if they’d like to be compared to Donizetti, but…you know?
  14. The three sopranos sang the Magnificat canon over and over and over and over and over again, always perfectly, never tiring (not that I could hear), and continued to smile at me
  15. I cannot say enough about how Donald ran the sessions
  16. I will always remember the look on Priscilla’s face when we finished Wednesday night, the toughest stretch of all, she and Tom as the Greek chorus on soprano recorders with the Psalm 27 antiphon, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” while the storm raged outside in the dark, and after that session how my daughter came up to me with wet eyes and gave me the biggest hug because she was so proud. But I was prouder.
  17. How could I be so fortunate?
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