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NYSB Recording Weekend Report January 2018

The latest addition to the staff band’s armory is a purpose built recording studio and practice space right in place of the existing bandroom. This has meant the band has rehearsed in a few other places over the last year or so but the time out has been worth it and this new resource will set the band up for further success for many, many years.

Having barely christened the wooden floor with our spit we met on Friday afternoon Jan 19th to record the band’s latest CD. This will be our flagstaff recording for the Japanese tour but also a nod to all the composers and new compositions the band has been playing under Bandmaster Derek Lance.

The disc’s aim is to get these new compositions out into the public but also the concept of the album will be novel with no traditional marches or hymn settings and all brand new compositions. I often wonder how new music will be received but if our recent concerts are anything to go by some of the newer pieces really were awarded with standing ovations!

The recording schedule was grueling to say the least and in the Bandroom the mics were very close to the individual players meaning every last gasp of air and mute drop was more than audible. Having recorded in a variety of different settings this was new to me and many members of the band but it really gave our engineer and producer a fantastic amount of control and the results I’m sure will be a true representation of the band’s sound and technical proficiency.

I won’t spoil all the surprises but the highlights for me were the larger works which there are three of: Martin Cordner’s “Wake up the Saint”, Marcus Venable’s “Endless Power” and Andrew Wainwrights’ “Fearless”. Fearless was the winner of the NYSB’s recent composer competition so it really felt like the ink was still drying on that one. All three of these pieces are an incredible indicator of the standard of music being produced for God’s glory at this time. The thing that really struck me was the level of concentration which was required from each individual to ensure this was going to be a success, mentally it was extremely draining never mind how the bands lips were feeling. We played from 4pm to 10pm on Friday and were back at it at 9am Saturday morning right through to 4pm.

To match up with those weightier works we recorded one solo (Pie Jesu Faure Arr Dorothy Gates, soprano soloist Chris Ward) and a cornet duet (“Streamlined” Marcus Venables, soloists Brindley Venables and Stuart Dalrymple). The former piece was written in memory of Simon Birkett, who was a true friend of the NYSB and is a real loss to the SA brass banding family. Chris as always played beautifully and our prayers continue to be raised to Simon’s family back in the UK.

In between these moments when the spotlight was on soloists the band was put through their paces in a few opener style pieces “Living Power” Tom Davoren and Martin’s second contribution “Semper Fidelis”. After a few crash bangs and wallops the quieter reflective pieces were the real test of the band’s stamina. “Turn your eyes upon Jesus” by Jonathan Rowsell is a particularly pretty treatment of this well-known prayer chorus and although it blooms to a gorgeous full sound it finishes in the same dainty quintet as it starts. As I’m sure you all know, these quieter pieces are always the hardest to get in the can and many great players have suffered from an attack of “the wobbles” trying to achieve the perfect pianissimo entry. Fortunately the tuning note was the only place we heard any jitters (from myself I must add) and these soft passages were negotiated with relative ease once we had a few passes.

While on that vein, the other thing that was a pleasant surprise was the lack of engineer’s tricks, there were no short cuts taken and all the passes at the music were healthy minutes instead of seconds which means again the integrity of the recording will be beyond doubt. Some of the final sections really felt like concert quality in terms of adrenaline and emotion so I know this excitement and rush of praise will come through in the final CD.

Thanks must go to all involved at THQ who have seen this refurbishment project through to its completion, it really is a beautiful space to rehearse and record in. We were also indebted to NYSB alumni and fellow trombonists-The Phils! Phil Rayment travelled from Canada to be “the ears” in the box (Producer) alongside Phil Bulla who ensured that all the takes were put in the right places (Engineer). With the two Phils we really had a dream team in the recording booth so a huge thanks to them. Of course it goes without saying a big thanks to the music dept. at THQ who all put in extra hours to make this project a reality and in particular BM Derek Lance who continues to push the band to their limits.

By Nathan Power (NYSB Second Trombone)