Today we travelled back up the M5 and headed towards the North West bit of England where it almost meets North Wales. Our destination was Newton Primary School. Approximately a 3 hour drive from our studios in Wiltshire, this school was just about on the limit of how far we are prepared to go without engaging the services of a hotel the night before. So, another early start, armed with a flask of coffee and a breakfast bar.
Arriving exactly on time just before 07.30am we found our way into the school and were greeted by our contact. This meant we were soon in the hall where the recording was scheduled to take place and started setting up the microphones and recording gear.
The recording session followed the usual format of songs per year group with some songs for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. This meant we had quite a lot of pupils in the hall at any one time. There were also a number of very good solo singers who performed lines in some of the songs. The quality of singing at Newton Primary School was extremely good and we throughly enjoyed recording the pupils.
Due to the excellence of the singing, we were in fact finished just before lunch and it was soon time to start dismantling our recording gear.
One of the best parts of this job is not just that we get to meet lots of lovely people, but we also get to travel all around the country. Sometimes if the recording takes all day, particularly in the winter when it is dark early, then all we see is the inside of a school hall. However today it was bright and sunny and we were finished by lunchtime and so decided it would be worth investigating Chester.
A quick bit of online research and I soon discovered there was a lunchtime organ recital in Chester Cathedral. As my default is to always explore any Cathedral in passing this seemed a splendid idea. There was also a strong possibility of this adventure including lunch as well.
The city of Chester was a short drive from the school and we soon found our way to the Cathedral which was looking splendid in the spring sunshine. Inside, as you’d expect, the cathedral was considerably colder! But there was the promise of an excellent organ recital.
Dr Anthony Gritten
The recital was given by Dr Anthony Gritten who is currently Head of Undergraduate Programmes at the Royal Academy of Music. Anthony was an organ scholar and research student at Cambridge University, writing his doctorate under Alexander Goehr on Stravinsky. Prior to working at the Royal Academy of Music, he worked at the University of East Anglia, and the Royal Northern College of Music. Anthony studied the organ with Harry Gabb, Anne Page and David Sanger, and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists.
Today’s recital comprised the following pieces:
Sixieme Sonate (Op 86) – Alexandre Guilmant (1837 – 1911)
Fantaisie Fuguee sue Regina Caeli (2007) – Daniel Roth (b.1942)
Sortie Fuguee (1899) – Pierre Kunc (1865 – 1941)
The Grand Organ – Chester Cathedral
In 1844, an organ by Gray & Davison of London was installed in the cathedral, replacing an instrument with parts dating back to 1626, possibly by Father Smith. The organ was rebuilt and enlarged by Whiteley Bros. of Chester in 1876, to include harmonic flutes and reeds by Cavaillé-Coll. It was later moved to its present position at the front of the north transept. In 1910 William Hill and Son of London extensively rebuilt and revoiced the organ, replacing the Cavaillé-Coll reeds with new pipes of their own. The choir division of the organ was enlarged and moved behind the choirstalls on the south side. The instrument was again overhauled by Rushworth and Dreaper of Liverpool in 1969, when a new mechanism and some new pipework made to a design by the organist, Roger Fisher, was installed. Since 1991 the organ has been in the care of David Wells of Liverpool. The organ case is by Sir Gilbert Scott.
We had a thoroughly enjoyable day both recording at Newton Primary School and then exploring the beautiful city of Chester. The album will shortly go into production and we hope the staff and pupils enjoy listening to the songs as well as raising some funds for their school.
If you would like to find out more about recording a CD or digital album at your school then please get in contact with us
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