Recording Men on location in Scotland. A trip North of the border to record Kirkintilloch Male Voice Choir.
A few months ago we were approached by Kirkintilloch MVC to help the choir record a CD to celebrate their centenary in 2021. Initial discussions about the proposed recording started back in the summer of 2019 where we were put up against two other companies as part of the ‘bidding’ process. This is not wholly unusual and a lot of choirs will do this in order to make an informed choice about which recording company best suits their requirements.
Obviously I’m delighted to say we did ‘win’ the contract to record Kirkintilloch’s centenary CD. I like to think this was a combination of the right price coupled with our extensive experience of recording choirs and my own personal experience as a choir leader. Nevertheless, regardless of the reasoning, I always view any ‘contract’ for a recording as one of trust. To some extent contracting any business to do anything is a leap of faith for the purchaser, particularly if you haven’t worked with that company before.
I personally feel that a recording ‘contract’ is a little more than that. Ultimately a recording is a ‘one off’. Yes I know there are re-takes on location and much editing which can be done in the studio. But there is only one chance to capture the choir during the session. If you don’t record things properly or worse than that you somehow manage to lose the data then it’s game over. Let’s face it, just finding a date when all the choir can come together to record, at a point when the songs are sufficiently well rehearsed is no mean feat. So when it comes to the recording session, this is your only chance to get it right!
The choir decided that in order to get 20 songs onto their centenary album it would be best to record in two sessions, approximately a year apart. And so the first recording session was booked for November 2019. The venue was St Mary’s Parish Church in Kirkintilloch.
With Scotland being quite a way from our Wiltshire Studio, I drove North the day before and was recommended a suitable hotel just on the outskirts of Kirkintilloch. With the recording session being planned for just a single day, in order to save time I set up a lot of the equipment in the church the previous evening.
The following morning it only took moments to bring in and set up the remainder of the recording gear, meaning we were ready to record from 09.30am. At this point the choir arrived and started to warm up.
The rest of the day proceeded smoothly. With 10 pieces to record, it was a tough ask for the choir but they sang well all day. The best advice for choirs recording for a whole day is to put in regular breaks. It’s amazing how motivated choristers can be if there is the prospect of a cup of tea after the next take! Sound engineers too are also motivated by tea breaks!
I thoroughly enjoyed the first session on location working with Sally and the gents of Kirkintilloch MVC and I’m already looking forward to the second recording session booked for October 2020 to finalise the centenary album.
Recording Session in Pictures
Kirkintilloch Male Voice Choir
The choir was founded in 1921 by the late John Knox Esq. with a group of singers from church choirs and other local singing groups. For the next 25 years, they grew in strength and delighted many an audience under his leadership until, at the ripe old age of 85, he handed over the baton to his son in 1946. The choir continued the fine tradition of Male Voice singing, taking part in many festivals and Radio and TV broadcasts until, in 1978, after 32 years conducting, the son returned to the singing ranks. The founder’s grandson then took over, changing from the accompanist’s position, which he had held for 19 years, to that of conductor.
Today, Kirkintilloch Male Voice Choir is lead by Sally McClellan with accompaniment from David Burns. These two have worked together as the music team since 1999.