Yesterday, we travelled right into the centre of London to record Salisbury based choir Sarum Consort. The venue chosen was St Gabriel’s Church in Pimlico.
In the 1840s, 50s and 60s Pimlico was a rapidly expanding residential area and in each of these decades at a least one new church was built, ours in 1852-3. The Marquis of Westminster, who then owned all the land, granted £5,000 and the freehold of a plot at the south-western end of Warwick Square for a church. It was to be designed by Thomas Cundy Junior, the Surveyor of the Grosvenor Estates covering all of Belgravia and Pimlico. It would complete Cubitt’s vision for this most majestic of city squares, dominating the skyline as it still does today.
Sarum Consort are no strangers to recording and the choir has produced a number of CDs in the past. However, our purpose today was to record 3 tracks which, along with video footage, could be used to promote the choir and show how varied and demanding their repertoire could be.
Sarum’s Musical Director, Alistair Carey, had provided us with a comprehensive schedule for the day. We were given two hours to set up from 09.00 – 11.00. At this point the choir would arrive and rehearse for an hour or so before changing into concert dress for the recording session at 1pm. Whilst it may sound strange to dress up for an audio recording, the choir were also taking this opportunity to have some video and photographs made, hence concert dress.
With all this in mind we arrived outside the church shortly after 08.00 as there was no official parking at the church. With lots of kit to unload we were keen to nab one of the spaces on the street right outside. This plan worked well and also gave us time to find a local cafe to provide a full English breakfast. Given that we had left home at 5.30am this was most welcome.
The kit was duly unloaded and we set up in the church with plenty of time to spare before the choir started arriving for a rehearsal.
The Sarum Consort have been described as ‘The Jewel in the crown of Salisbury music”. Their Director Alistair Carey has been involved in choral performance since the age of six and has recorded and broadcast all over the UK and Europe. In addition to working with Sarum Consort he has sung with The Gabrieli Consort, I Fagiolini, The Oxford Camerata and The Brabant Ensemble.
The Sarum Consort is renowned for being one of the UK’s leading early music ensembles, receiving critical acclaim for both recordings and concert performances. It was therefore a privilege to record them today and we hope our recording will do justice to their outstanding performances.
Our brief was to record 3 pieces of music in just 90 minutes. We started with Jesus und die Kramer by Zoltan Kodaly. This tricky piece would, for most choirs, be quite challenging to record. But the Sarum Consort took just a few takes and we had something in the can after just 40 minutes. The other two pieces were Mauersberger’s Wie liege die Stadt so wust and Hodie Christus natus est by Palestrina.
Following the schedule with precision, Alistair had all 3 pieces recorded to his satisfaction within the 90 minutes scheduled and we then backed up the data and dismantled our kit. We thoroughly enjoyed recording Sarum Consort and they were an absolute delight to listen to. We will process the tracks in the next few days so they can use them to help promote the choir.