A couple of days ago we managed to blow through our goal of £4000. This CD is officially going to be a thing! Thanks to everyone who contributed, you mean a great deal to us and we will strive to make this recording meet and exceed your expectations in every way.
There are still a few days on the clock, so if you have friends or relatives you think might enjoy our CD, or if you know of anyone local to Leeds, tell them about our project and link them here!
We're over £3000! Only a quarter of the way to go now with just under a fortnight on the clock. To celebrate, here's a longer excerpt from the Eric Whitacre piece that features in the campaign video above. We made this during one of the first rehearsals to try to showcase some of our favourite music from the programme, so don't worry that it contains a few bum notes: it's all part of the process!
If you enjoyed this piece and haven't yet contributed, consider claiming the £8 download or £12 super-early-bird CD perk to hear the full recording when it's made.
Thanks to everyone who's shared the campaign and spread the word so far. Keep it up!
We received the final designs for our project! This overall visual philosophy will cover all our needs including leaflets and posters, video branding, etc., but most importantly, this is the design on which the CD packaging will be based.
We think it conveys the sense of light, energy and modernity of the space and portrays the bright, positive message about the music we’re bringing to it. We also have the design in print now (many grateful thanks to our printing provider, who is providing this service as a donation!) and are looking forward to seeing it in visible city locations very soon.
What is this?
This is the Victoria Quarter in Leeds, a marbled Victorian arcade housing some seriously high-end retail outlets, water features and the popular Harvey Nichols Espresso Bar. The arcade sits beneath a magnificent, modern vaulted stained-glass roof, the largest stained-glass window in Europe. Its bright, reflective surfaces, lofty expansiveness and transparent, crystalline resonance make it reminiscent of a cathedral.
As singers, we have become well acquainted with the VQ’s fantastic acoustic, and its potential, performing Christmas music to Harvey Nichols customers in the evening when the city outside is subdued and the interior takes on an almost spiritual calm. We also know first-hand the power of modern Cathedral music sung within this space to move, enthuse and enrapture listener and performer alike.
There has been a widespread, creative re-birth in sacred choral music over the last 50 years. Composers have found a voice that re-discovers the spiritual simplicity of expression of their Renaissance counterparts, using voices to evoke numinous feelings – mystery, awe and timelessness. Such music arrests us and raises the imagination above the hubbub of daily living, speaking to those parts of us that words alone cannot reach. Yet, it can often seem that a large number of people miss out on these profound, personal experiences as the music rarely leaves our greater Churches and expensive stage venues.
So this summer, directed by Dr Simon Lindley, we will bring the glorious and thrilling sounds of modern cathedral music – some of it written locally in Yorkshire – to this awe-inspiring place in the heart of Leeds. Our programme will include pieces by the likes of Tavener, Whitacre, Lauridsen, Beamish and MacMillan alongside Harris, Parry and three modern Yorkshire greats Edward Bairstow, Francis Jackson and Philip Moore. We will perform the music live, and record it for CD and download so that we can share the experience more widely, but we can’t do it without your help.
We are a close-knit group of approximately 40: a mixture of skilled amateur and semi-professional singers with a wide age-range spanning undergrad students and young professionals to mature experienced performers. Please be aware we've compiled all of this material together from various devices including our phone cameras, and to give you the best idea of the concept we've made some early rehearsal videos that don't give a true impression of how we sound in performance!
We are very lucky in that we have been able to secure some of our costs via generous private donors and benefits in kind from local businesses in the region. This has given us a great platform on which to build our project, and it means we have access to the venue for recording and performance, seating, publicity and all of our printing costs.
Now, we're looking for £4000 to produce and manufacture our recorded programme, which means dedicated recording sessions in the venue, editing, mastering, visual design and manufacturing, which we intend to do to the highest standard.
We have begun rehearsing the pieces in earnest, and in humble anticipation of a successful campaign, which means upon completion we can move ahead straight away with recording in July. Of course, the project can't go ahead if we don't reach our goal, but we're confident that we have some interesting and valuable rewards to make your decision to contribute a worthwhile one.
Why is this project valuable?
If you are a new-comer to choral music, sacred or secular, we feel that it’s not fair to you if you feel uncomfortable being in the traditional venues due to your beliefs, lifestyle or budget such that you miss out entirely on the enriching and uplifting experience of hearing it. We’ve seen a huge opportunity to bring such an experience into a more accessible space, where the nature of the building means the music can be heard as intended, without suffering from the sonic pitfalls of other inner-city venues.
Our project is artistically driven, with a strong vision and identity, and not generated by market forces or dependent on backing from big business (although we welcome most gratefully the support in kind that has been so generously given). We believe it can reach and enrich the lives of many people.
Our programme showcases a great variety of very strong and distinctive musical voices from the last 100 years.
The programme reflects the two periods in which the Victoria Quarter was developed with the glorious sounds of Edward Bairstow's Let all mortal flesh keep silence (written when he was Organist of Leeds Parish Church, now Leeds Minster, where we are part of the Choral Foundation), Hubert Parry's My Soul, there is a country far beyond the stars and William Harris's Faire is the Heaven matching the splendid arcades. More recent works, such as Eric Whitacre's Alleluia, Tavener's Take him, earth for cherishing and Jackson's Evening Hymn explore the space and resonance created by the modern glass vault to thrilling effect.
Philip Moore's Three Prayers of Dietrich Bonhoeffer complete the succession of three local composers (following Bairstow and Jackson) who between them were Organist at nearby York Minster for 95 years, and provide a haunting contrast in style and voice.
William Harris's peerless setting of John Donne's prayer Bring us, O Lord God, at our last awakening provides the inspiration for the entire project.
What happens next?
- May and June: we rehearse, in order to reach the highest standards of performance that we can
- June 29: performance for Harvey Nichols customers at an Espresso Bar dinner event
- July 6 8.00pm: Live performance - this will be a Prom style concert so that people can feel free to drop in and listen
- Mid July: recording sessions
- July - August: editing/mastering ; preparation of the booklet for the CD
- September: final compilation of the product and manufacturing
- Mid-autumn: ship physical rewards and release CD.
Costs for the concert and for initial design of the product have already been met by the generosity of private donors. These include
- Concept design
- Installation of seating for the concert
- Recording of the concert
Our target of £4000 for this campaign aims to cover the costs of the recording and production of the CD:
- Recording and mastering : £2100
- Manufacture: £1200
- Shipping costs (approx): £300
- Management costs (approx): £400
This project is an intense collaboration, and a large number of people (including, of course, our 40 choir members!) will be involved, we know that we could encounter some setbacks. These include:
- Illness - if our
recording engineer or conductor are ill we will have to postpone the recording
sessions, though this will not impact the concert performance on 6th July unless there's an epidemic! If this happens we will remain in touch regularly and transparently while we work out a new schedule.
- Noise - We have to remember we’re making a location recording, in the middle of a bustling city centre at the height of summer. While we have made arrangements to keep internal noise to a minimum and outside noise doesn't generally interfere, we could encounter severe noise over which we have no control.
- Venue - we have made all the necessary arrangements with the Victoria Quarter management, but they may suffer misfortune and have to suddenly maintain or close the building at short notice. This would obviously require us to reschedule.
Finally, we’re using PayPal services for processing transactions. PayPal has policies to protect you when things go wrong, and with this type of fundraiser, which may go longer than three weeks without delivery, we are required to tell you that while we will make our best effort to provide the rewards we're offering, delivery is not guaranteed. Don't worry, we won't let you down, it's just that we're not selling a ready-made commercial product; a CD takes longer than three weeks to make and may, of course, be delayed. We hope to be shipping around mid Autumn.