Moscow Sessions

Orchestral sessions in the city – it still feels like being let out to play!. On the face of it, the task doesn’t look like fun; hours of relentless score preparation, the mad rush of the final week to respond to updates and last minute compositions, and the crazy flight times that get you to and from the job. But in spite of all this, it’s still a buzz. All the graft is justified when you sit in the control room listening to the musicians bring to life those dots and lines on the paper, and finally put flesh and blood into melodies that have only existed with samples for so long.

I guess the pressure to complete this great body of work is a stimulant; the challenge is motivating. The end result is enormously satisfying, validating the need for craft and detail in score preparation.

The orchestrations were for an ice dance production (Cinderella, performed by the Imperial Ice Stars) with a score by Tim Duncan and Ed Barnwell. The orchestra was the Moscow Film Orchestra, recorded at Mosfilms. These sessions were for strings; wind, brass and percussion will be added in the UK.


We arrived in Moscow on the same day 40,000 footie fans descended on the city for the Champions’ League final (Manchester United v Chelsea). What are the odds on that? Yet, incredibly, the journey was hassle free – no flight delays and just 10 minutes to get through passport control. Different story coming home – grim!

I’m continually impressed by the professionalism of musicians and studios around the world. The standard in Moscow was high SSL desk, ProTools on a Mac, ATC monitors, Neumann and Russian mics in a facility similar to Studio 2 at Abbey Road. The studio was at Mosfilms, with the Moscow Cinema Orchestra. I was especially impressed by conductor Sergei Skripka, interpreting the music exactly as required, with little need to discuss with me or the composer. Proof that if the score is thoroughly prepared, with clear direction, it will be efficiently performed.

We’d attempted to record over an hour of music in 2 days – too ambitious, so we’ll be returning later in the year. A realistic aim for even moderately complex scores might be 20 – 30 minutes completed per day.

I asked composer Tim Duncan if he was pleased with the results.

Cinderella on Ice starts a global tour in 2008.


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