Watford and the setlist ….

This is only going to be a shortish blog because I have set myself the (possibly too ambitious) target of deciding on the setlist for the concert next week by lunchtime. Just to bring everything up to date; I came back from holiday at the weekend (although since I left 35 degree sunny Bordeaux for this rainy nonsense I’m wishing I hadn’t) and went pretty much straight into the BIG recording day with the orchestra at Watford Town Hall with Sam Okell from Abbey Road recording. I’ve never seen so many good mics in one room – Neumann city for those interested in such things. Overall charge on this project on the recording side is the wonderful Steve Price from Angel but he was not free on this day and Sam fortunately was able to do it for us. It is unbelievably important to get the right person behind the desk (or upturned crate in this case!) for these things because they need a ton of technical & musical knowledge but also the ability to quickly communicate to me how it’s all coming together when I’m out there conducting. Steve and Sam are both terrific on all fronts.

Anyway it was tons of fun to have the whole orchestra together in the refitted Watford Colosseum – the loudest room I’ve ever been in I think! A big highlight was recording music from Dead Space which had been specially arranged for us by composer Jason Graves; also the Final Fantasy pieces were spectacular and Legend of Zelda was hairs on the back of the neck time with some John Williams-esque fanfares and also some incredibly beautiful woodwind solos. It was also great to have some old friends of mine from The Divine Comedy playing bass and drums on a couple of numbers – we recorded Super Mario Bros Gusty Galaxy and decided to do it in the style of Neil Hannon crossed with Dynasty (the idea of Neil in big shoulder pads was enough for everyone to get the right vibe!)

Then yesterday the choir – the final session. Lots of fun; I love working with choirs and hardly every get asked to. It’s the way it goes – I know a lot about singing so never get to work with choirs, I know nothing at all about orchestral playing so I’m always getting asked to work with orchestras! What’s going on there?

Today … the setlist!!! So difficult, so many possibilities but I’ve got to do it. Everyone from the lights man, the sound man, the presenter, the presenter’s agent, the orchestral marketing dept, the boss, the teaboy, the drummer … is screaming for this list. Well, politely enquiring I suppose would be more like it – it is a classical orchestra we’re talking about.

So … Super Mario Bros theme goes beautifully into Orb of Dreamers from Little Big Planet – but is that too much cheese in one go? Nah – cheese is good but we should probably follow it up with something serious … like Legend of Zelda!!! I’m losing some perspective here I think …

Andrew Skeet, Conductor

Find out more and book tickets for Friday 2 September at lpo.org.uk/heroes

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