Last week was spent up in Scotland with my harp quartet CLOUDS.
The purpose of the week was to learn the material for our forth-coming album ‘water’, and to pay our way we would do four lunchtime concerts at St. Giles Cathedral up in Edinburgh Monday through to Thursday.
Learning music with CLOUDS is very different to how I was trained and it has been so good for all of us. Esther composes the music, then, without writing it down, teaches it to us aurally in group rehearsals.
Our first CD was entitled CLOUDS and we recorded it I think two years ago now. Water is so different, it’s much more exact whereas CLOUDS had lots of improvisation. Water is incredibly rhythmic, and often I think it’s very hypnotic as well – I’m really excited about its release in early October (it’s also available for pre-order now! Visit http://cloudsandharps.bigcartel.com/product/water )
The first few days of the ‘tour’ were pretty stressful. Bec’s car broke down in Manchester but she somehow managed to get up to Scotland, Esther’s car smelled of smoke every time she drove anywhere and, well, Elfair doesn’t have a car yet. So it was up to me to transport harps and harpists to and from the cathedral each lunchtime – luckily we have found a slick way to get two harps in one car!
Monday was easily the most stressful concert, well the concert was OK, getting there was another matter. It was the final day of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and what we hadn’t accounted for was that the street where we had special permission to park was CLOSED! And the traffic was at a standstill. But luckily a very nice traffic warden man told me where to find a little side street where I could park. Lovely.
That was with harps 1 & 2, with harps 3 & 4 our friendly traffic officer had disappeared and had been replaced by a much less nice lady who didn’t seem to understand that IT IS 12.40 WE WERE DUE TO PLAY AT 12.15 AND WE ARE ALL VERY STRESSED WHERE DO WE GO?!?!?!?!
I argued with her a little bit, most unlike me but I was stressed out!
Meanwhile, harps 1 & 2 were wondering where the rest of us were and trying to patch together a concert of solos and duets – from what I hear they did an excellent job considering the stress of the moment.
Compared with Monday, the rest of the lunchtime concerts ran smoothly – we sold lots of CLOUDS cds and got some lovely audience feedback.
Each afternoon we would learn a couple of movements of water to play the following day in the concert.
Friday was recording day.
I can’t believe we tried to record an entire CD in one day! After choosing a room in which construction work outside couldn’t be heard we started to record at around 2pm. We finished at 2am.
Ana – who was doing the recording for us – was lovely. She hadn’t had breakfast or lunch but didn’t tell us this fact until around 5.30 in the afternoon! She must have been ravenous. Sorry Ana.
At around 11.30pm Bec and I realised that the car park our cars were in closed at midnight – with any cars left getting towed away. What a lovely opportunity for a late night run through the streets of Edinburgh to ensure our cars weren’t taken away and crushed.
But despite the stress of the day and the situation, I think the recording went really well and I’m so excited to hear the finished product. There were lots of tears along the way but I’m so proud that we could learn the music and record it in five days – it was intense but great as well.