Behind the scenes of recordings at Saffron Hall

Posted on July 24, 2020

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Saffron Hall’s world-class acoustics make it a sought-after location for professional recordings, but what really goes on behind closed doors? This week we hear from Alex Rickells, one of our Events Co-ordinators, who has been overseeing the recording sessions which have been taking place in the Hall over the last few days.

This week we have had two recording sessions in Saffron Hall: the Sacconi Quartet, who have been recording works by Roxanna Panufnik, and an ensemble led by clarinettist and composer Mark Simpson, who have been recording works by Mozart and himself.

The Hall is a great venue to record in, with the acoustics being excellent as they already are with no adjustments necessary, and the set-up being really straight forward. At the moment the layout is a combination of overhead microphones to capture the players overhead and also the natural ambience and reverb of the Hall. The equipment can be connected very easily between the Hall and the rehearsal room, which is where engineers base their control room most of the time. This keeps wires and cables contained and in order, and the musicians happy by being able to go and listen back very easily. 

In the Hall itself there will be monitors where the producer and engineer can talk to the players to feed back on how the take went and how some areas could possibly be improved. This keeps things moving quickly. Some recording setups, such as when conductors are involved, will have a Deal or No Deal style telephone setup so the recording staff can telephone through to report something, which is always quite entertaining! 

For the most part, logistical preparations for recordings are very similar to whenever we have an external hire in the Hall; and for the most part they are easy to maintain once they are set up and get going. The only key difference compared to an ordinary event is that, while the Hall is soundproof, there is inevitably often a noise which is picked up on the recording. This week, the sound of a drill was noticed which we managed to quickly track down and stop, and fortunately the players and engineers were able to joke about it!

As the Hall has been quiet for many months it is fantastic to be able to have live music again in the auditorium, an experience which we hope we’ll be able to share with you in the not too distant future.

 

Saffron Hall is a charity and we rely on income from ticket sales and donations to keep doing what we’re doing. If you want to support us through this difficult period, please consider making a donation or becoming a Saffron Hall member.

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