Tag Archives: orchestration

Budapest Orchestral Session

And here’s another Eastern European centre for orchestral sessions – Budapest.  I’ve recorded in numerous others but this was the first time here and the job was for Icezone and Universal in Germany recording my orchestral arrangements of 2 songs, performed by Ute Freudenberg and Christian Lais.

One of the songs is already a massive hit in Germany, the other will be released later this year in both pop and orchestral versions.

Excellent facilities (Hungarian Radio), great players and production team (CLmusic), and glorious weather, which is kind of special when you’ve travelled from Manchester on a cold, wet July day.

An edit of the songs, released October 2011



Score Preparation

Most of my work involves arranging and recording strings.  But some orchestration and score preparation comes my way too.  It’s an enormously satisfying part of the music making business, not least when I get to attend and help out at the orchestral sessions which have taken me to studios all over Europe.

I had a go at a YouTube vid about score prep a long while back, and it was, frankly, naff.  So here is my updated version.

My biggest challenge (apart from trying my hardest to make the subject interesting!) is that the typical video dimensions on the web are too small for screen shots of sequencing and notation – things that normally fill a screen.  Looking forward to something that resolves that!

This video shows my approach and, of course, it’s not the only way to crack the nut!

Imperial Ice Stars

I watched Cinderella on Ice at The Opera House Manchester the other day, performed by The Imperial Ice Stars.  Sitting as a punter with my family it was a thoroughly captivating experience of stimulii that we’ve come to expect from live theatre, which (like film) still enjoys healthy ticket sales by, quite simply, delivering good stories with high production values.  P2P file sharing is never going to trouble live theatre.

But I wasn’t just there as a punter; I’d worked on the score, preparing orchestrations and arrangements, assisting with the Moscow recording sessions and recording some updates back at realstrings.com.  When you’re working on a large scale project (this is a 2 hour recorded score) you inevitably deal with the day to day details, the minutae of the arranging process, with various deadlines hanging over you that are both threatening and motivating!  I’ve written before about what makes a composer and in a case like this, sheer nerve to keep going and pull everything into place on time and within budget must be high on the list.  The composers for this project were Tim Duncan and Ed Barnwell and credit to them for having the bottle to not only get the gig but to make it happen; it’s an enormous achievement.  The production is getting plenty of excellent reviews.  This is a short video montage.

My favorite scene was not one of the lavish set-pieces, but rather the rain scene, towards the end of the 1st act, where the 2 principal characters dance in the town square, each dreaming of each other, whilst unaware of the other’s presence.  The rain effect is poignant and remarkable (the skaters are not left soaked!) but it is the music that seals the emotional power of the moment – a simple, very English composition which the composers have kindly allowed me to feature here.

This was recorded in Moscow; a string arrangement from the original piano version that I was particularly pleased with.  See the score (you’ll need the Sibelius Scorch plug in).