Three of the five AC members share their thoughts on what it was like to record their debut CD, and talk about the concert in Maryland last week.
Paula: Impressions of a whirlwind week
Armonia Celeste really packed in a huge workload during our visit to Cumberland, Maryland. We spent a day of rehearsal “remembering” our old repertoire and polishing some new additions to the CD we were about to record. Then it was off to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church to spend three days recording. The people of St. Paul’s were so generous and welcoming in letting us use their beautiful space! Check out the photos!
We were very fortunate to have two consummate professionals spearheading the recording project: Malcolm Bruno, our producer, came by plane, train, and automobile all the way from Wales (yes, as in the U.K.); Paul Vazquez, our recording engineer, made the drive from the NYC area.
We marveled at the flattering sound they captured of the ensemble. Malcolm in particular is a genius in charmingly and diplomatically keeping our fatiguing selves moving smoothly forward on track, all the while helping us to find our best music-making. While it was some of the hardest work I’ve ever done (very long and intense days with few breaks, at maximum concentration, and all while propping up a very heavy huge Barberini harp—O, my aching back!), it was also some of the most rewarding work…and we said goodbye to Paul and Malcolm feeling the camaraderie that comes of having forged something special together.
But no rest for the weary! We went from the super-intensity of recording to immediately preparing for our weekend concert with Mountainside Baroque. A last-minute substitution of the very game and sweet-voiced Josh Ruppenkamp as our tenor made everything fall into place. The church was nearly filled by a fabulously receptive audience. The program of sacred music was by turns powerful and joyful and spiritual…audience members (and your very own correspondent) reported getting chills at points during the music-making! Our final chorus of “Plorate filii Israel” in Carissimi’s oratorio Jephte almost brought even the harpist to tears. 🙂 A wonderful conclusion to an astonishing week.
Sarah: Still Riding High after Armonia Celeste’s Week in Maryland!
What an amazing week in Maryland! I feel so uplifted by the music, the musicians, and the personalities we had the opportunity to work with, both in the three days of recording with Malcolm Bruno and Paul Vazquez, and in the concert with Mountainside Baroque where Armonia Celeste was joined by Ryan Mullaney, Josh Ruppenkamp, Les Anders, Pat Nordstrom, and Eric Kitchen.
I expected to feel a bit of a letdown after such an amazing week, but upon my return to Texas this week, I found many friends and colleagues (especially at Preston Hollow Presbyterian and Southeastern Oklahoma State University) anxious and excited to hear all about our week of recording and concerts. It is nice to be reminded that our fan base is so strong here in Texas, even when we are off performing in other parts of the country! I already have a list of people anxiously awaiting the release of the CD.
Now, even as I begin a new semester of teaching, I still have the music from last week following me from one task to the next. At turns haunting and amusing, achingly beautiful and furious, there seems to be something to accompany my every mood! I feel so blessed to have had this time, sharing amazing music with wonderful friends and colleagues, and I look forward to our upcoming concerts in June and beyond!
Lyle: Feedback on AC’s concert with Mountainside Baroque
It was a great week—confirmed my long-time feeling that the best music is made with the best musicians and the people you like and respect the best (all the people in Armonia). The concert was also really, really fine. The feedback has been very rewarding. A few comments:
- “Probably the best music that has been in that church since it was built!” (over 100 years ago)
- “You certainly raised the bar for performance in Cumberland. We’ve never heard anything that good.”
- “I’m having Armonia withdrawal. Armonia was so special, the blend was fantastic! When is the recording coming out?”
- “So happy this is in Cumberland!”
- “Could not believe you could get so many people from a small city out to a concert of music and composers that they have never heard.”
- “I can’t wait for the next concert.”