December 11, 2010
Kingfishers Catch BluRay
In late October (yes, I’m a little behind here), the University of Texas Wind Ensemble made a new recording. This will be a follow-up to their recording of “Circus Maximus,” John Corigliano’s masterpiece for large wind ensemble with antiphonal (“surround sound”) players. That recording is on both two-channel CD and 5.1-channel BluRay, and was the first BluRay release on the Naxos label. To follow up, Jerry Junkin (the Director of Bands at UT, in case you’ve been living under a non-musical rock — and if that’s the case, I don’t really know how you found this blog, unless you’re looking for pictures of food p*rn or pictures of my cat…
— anyway, Jerry Junkin is following up that first release with a new recording entirely of music composed with antiphonal players. The pieces on the new album, to be released in 2011, are Steve Bryant’s incredibly virtuosic Concerto for Wind Ensemble (which had premiered just days before the recording session), Joel Puckett’s beautiful new flute concerto, “The Shadow of Sirius,” and my piece, “Kingfishers Catch Fire.”
Before we begin, let’s have a chunky fruity cocktail with Steve. Tell me, Steve… What’s it like to be… Steve?
One thing composers have in common: we apparently like to photograph recording sessions. I know Steve does…
… and so does Joel.
For good reason. Recording sessions are a rare event for a composer, and to have your music recorded in surround…
… with tens-of-thousands of dollars of high-end equipment…
… is clearly something to be taken seriously.
I often write about the incredible food I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy. Just to be clear, it ain’t always Eleven Madison Park, people.
It takes a lot of wire — and a great big contrabass clarinet — to make a truly exceptional recording.
Here, Silas Brown, the recording engineer, adjusts some microphones. This is high-tech work, as made apparent by the witch’s broom (the secret weapon of any great recording engineer).
The recording producer was David Frost, who has won Grammy awards (and is nominated again this year) for Classical Producer of the Year. Good lord, this man was incredible. He could hear my music better than I could, and he had an awe-inspiring way of running the session, knowing exactly what to tell the players — and exactly how to say it so they weren’t discouraged at any point during the zillion-hour sessions. (Very different from my personal style, which usually leans towards, “y’all suck. Do it again. Also, you suck.” My method is often counterproductive, I find.)
The sessions for Kingfishers Catch Fire went perfectly. How the first horn made it through, with 32 high C’s — multiplied by however many takes we did — I’ve no idea, but wow.
I don’t know how Jerry Junkin consistently manages to get people of this level to work with his groups (hello, Hila Plitman, Grammy-winner, who performed with the band in 2009?!), but whenever I’m allowed to be part of the fun, I’m honored and humbled. Thank you Jerry — and thank you to David, Silas, and the entire UT Wind Ensemble. Can’t wait for that BluRay next year!