Behind-the-scenes Interview with our Choir Director
Marketing Director Becky Sarginson interviews our Director, James Fellows, on the work being undertaken in preparation for our CD..
RS: The recording features a few unrecorded works - how are you preparing these?
JF: There’s always a challenge in preparing music you haven't heard, as you don‘t have a concept of what the pieces ‘should‘ sound like. The very first piece on the disc has never been recorded, and there’s only one edition of it in existence (on CPDL). Without giving too much away, I’ve been re-transcribing it to make it a bit clearer, and to put it in a slightly brighter key, so I’ve heard it quite a few times on Sibelius...it’s actually a brilliant little work! It’s incredibly exciting to break new ground like this, and I really hope listeners will share our enthusiasm for this repertoire.
RS: Fantastic. Tell us a bit about your inspiration in structuring the disc's programme.
JF: Our disc is slightly unconventional in that it‘s grounded in the structure provided by the liturgy of Assumption day. The choir was initially set up to sing cathedral services, so it seems appropriate to ground our recording in our actual purpose. Moreover, all of this repertoire was conceived not for concerts, but for liturgy, and I really believe it adds something to hear it ordered in the correct positions.
RS: What about the recording venue, the Guild Chapel in Stratford-upon-Avon? Why did you choose it over a more traditional venue for commercial recordings?
JF: As a Stratford-upon-Avon resident, I know the Guild Chapel very well, and have given recitals there myself, as well as singing in numerous services there. The last recording I did in there was actually for my A2 composition! It has a wonderful acoustic as the ceiling is stone, and, most excitingly, it has a relatively new organ (from 2014), which has yet to be recorded.
RS: Tell us more about the organ.
JF: The organ was put in in 2014 by Principal Pipe Organs of York, and I really think it's possibly the best organ in the area. It's got two manuals (keyboards) and 30 or so stops, but sounds a lot bigger. These are complemented by a few unusual ranks of pipes, giving it a very distinctive and characterful sound, but above all, it really speaks into the whole building.
RS: What's on your to-do list at the moment in preparation for the disc?
JF: Aside from transcribing the piece I mentioned, I've been preparing the recording booklets we will be using, which is a nightmare of a job! I've also just begun coordinating homestay accommodation for our singers, and am finishing off the arrangement I've put together of the hymn that's on the disc. There's still a lot more to do, as well as work for our tour to Truro!
Find out more about the historic Guild Chapel and its thrilling new organ here: