I can’t quite believe it but from 17th – 19th December 2020 we recorded Handel’s Messiah! It was three incredible days of music making and being in the same room with fellow musicians and friends was an amazing feeling.
We were joined by the fantastic CD producer, Adrian Peacock (www.adrianpeacock.com) who was just amazing to work with. His years of experience producing CD’s at the top of the classical music world was on show and it was a privilege to work with him.
We recorded in the beautiful surroundings of Swaffham Prior Church. It’s a beautiful village just a few miles outside Cambridge. The churchyard is quite unique as it contains two churches. We recorded in one (which had heating!) and used the other (a lot colder!) church as a break out space for socially distanced tea and lunch breaks. The churchwardens were fantastically helpful throughout the process. We were really lucky that all the pews in the church could be moved which left us with an empty space. This allowed us to adhere to COVID guidelines and we undertook a very lengthy risk assessment in preparation for the recording. The whole community of Swaffham Priory were also on hand to help. From parking in the Village hall car park through to the delicious fish and chips provided by the Red Lion Pub on Friday night (and the use of their toilets during the day)
We approached the recording as we would with our live performances with small forces performing on period instruments, a string quintet, chamber organ, harpsichord, 2 baroque trumpets and timpani (Handel didn’t use Oboes in the first performance of Messiah) There were 11 singers who all acted as soloists and singing the choruses. We’re excited to offer our version of Messiah which will be released in 2021.
It was a mammoth undertaking to record this huge work in 3 days but we did it! I must place on record my sincere gratitude to all the amazing musicians involved in the project. They went above and beyond to make this project a reality both logistically and musically and I shall be forever grateful for all their support. Working with Adrian Peacock was just amazing. He worked us hard and it may well be some of the most musically exhausting days of my career so far but hugely rewarding at the same time. I left feeling confident of a fantastic recording with such a safe pair of hands overseeing our work with his support, encouragement and expertise.
I think we will look back at this in years to come as an amazing achievement against all the odds in these challenging times. As news filtered through just as we were finishing the sessions of more strict lockdown measures it hit home again how lucky we were to be making music together and hoping that 2021 will bring more cheerful times for us all.
This project would have simply been impossible without the crowdfunding support we received. We are incredibly grateful for all of your support in making this project a reality. We’ll be back in touch with all crowdfunding supporters shortly. I am also extremely grateful to the support of the Earl Fitzwilliam Charitable Trust who provided a key donation to making this project possible.