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  • Writer's pictureJack Hughes

Session Recap - 26/09 - Chamber Ensembles

After short break we were back inside Stoller hall for our 3rd shared orchestral recording session. This time around we would be recording works with composers from Denmark, Germany and the UK. This diverse line up made for a very enjoyable session and took us to some interesting places, musically speaking.

But before the session could take place we had a puzzle to solve. Danish film composer Mathias Bjørnskov had approached us to record his piece “Ballad of the bride” for chamber orchestra and choir. The ongoing restrictions in the UK limited us to around 15 players on stage at any one time, so the challenge was how can we safely record a piece for 33 musicians?

The solution was to deconstruct the piece into 3 groups and record each one at a time. Whilst recording in this way would mean more complicated editing and mixing process, we were confident that with adequate preparation and in the hands of a skilled conductor it could give the same result as everyone recording as one ensemble.


Technical setup

Recording Mathias’ piece in 3 sections meant that we had to pay close attention to the stereo image so that the 3 recordings would match. We decide that a stereo pair would give the best sound and went with the Schoeps space Omni as our main microphones.

Schoeps space omni, and XY pair.

One of the main challenges in remote orchestra sessions is ensuring a consistent video and audio stream between the composer and the scoring stage. Having solid lines of communication is essential for the composer to give accurate feedback on takes, and get the most out of an orchestra recording session.

To achieve this we use a combination of Zoom and Audio movers to transmit live audio and video between the composers and the conductor/players.

Here is our technical manager Simeon Ogden describing the system is his own words…

“Composers being able to hear high quality, low latency audio and see the performance within the hall though being located anywhere in the world is something we considered in great detail.

After testing various systems we chose 2 pieces of software, Audio Movers and Zoom. Audio Movers is a plugin that is inserted within our ProTools session that sends the audio flowing through it to a browser based player via a simple link. This delivers high quality audio formats with a choice of latency settings.

Zoom is then used to send video of the performance and controlling engineer. Composers listen to all the audio including talkback through Audio Movers so simply mute audio from Zoom. Through Zoom the composers can talk to the performers / conductor with ease, feeding back their comments and thoughts per take. There is no risk of talking over a take as the talkback system is automatically muted by a great free plugin muteomatic once ProTools is in record.”



Composers: Leon Brueckner

Joshua Dowling

Mathias Bjørnskov Orchestration for "Songs of Achilles": Alexander Proudlock

Session Supervisor: Jack Hughes Sound Engineering & Technical: Simeon Ogden, John Lancaster Conductor: Melvin Tay


Matthew Chadbond

Megan Thompson

Elyena Clapperton

Rebecca Howell

Elizabeth Lister

Ellis Thompson

Emily Blaney


Anthony Jones

Abi Hammett


Lucy-Rose Graham

Abigail Davies


Filipe Dandalo


Emily Revill

Grace Callaghan


Josh Hall


Ella Sehringer

Ben Pinto

Oliver Lee


Zoe Ewers


Erin Bathgate

Molly Edwards


Kathryn Mason


Angelina Pavlou


Darren Gallacher

Alex Walker


Eleanor Austin

Georgia Mae Ellis

Charlie Trepess

Rita Wood

Leon Brueckner – Two Soldiers

What better way to begin a shared orchestra recording session than with this stunning composition from Leon. Two Soldiers is a piece for string ensemble that is very reminiscent of “the stoic theme” from Thomas Newman’s’ score to The Shawshank Redemption, only much more epic!

The opening baseline sets a strong mood, which builds in emotion and intensity as the piece unfolds, ultimately reaching a tremendously satisfying climax. To call this piece cinematic would be an understatement.

You can check out more from Leon via the links below:

Joshua Dowling – Songs of Achilles - Orchestrated by Alexander Proudlock

Songs of Achilles, for Baritone & chamber ensemble is a piece that is based upon the book of the same name by Madeline Miller. Joshua has done a brilliant job of creating a sense of story within the music, and the listener is taken through a range of moods that are both haunting and evocative.

Song of Achilles also contains wonderful interplay between the harp and piano, and its nice seeing these two instruments taking a more leading role for a change. Composer and past NFO collaborator Alexander Proudlock orchestrated this piece, achieving an stunning blend between the different instrument groups.

If you like what you hear from Joshua & Alex you can find more from them via the links below:

Mathias Bjørnskov – Ballad of the bride

Joining us from rural Denmark we had film composer Mathias Bjørnskov. Ballad of the bride, for chamber orchestra and soprano tells the tale of the bride of Frankenstein. This piece perfectly blends both gothic and romantic elements to create something that would be at home in a Tim Burton film. Ballad of the Bride also marked the first time we have recorded a choir as northern Film Orchestra, and the experience was extremely fun. Hopefully we will see more film composer’s utilising choral and vocal elements in future shared orchestra recording sessions.

For more from Mathias check out his soundcloud:

That concludes our recap for our September shared orchestra session. We hope you enjoyed this article! Stay tuned to hear the final mixes and for more information on our next round of recordings


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