curiouswombat: (notes from a small island)
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posted by [personal profile] curiouswombat at 05:30pm on 27/10/2013 under ,
I spent all yesterday evening doing something completely new to me - I took part in the recording of a major BBC TV programme.

UK friends will realise, from the heading, which one. Songs of Praise is exactly what it's name would imply - a 40 minute long, weekly, programme focussing mainly on Christian song, shown on BBC1 on Sunday evenings for the past 52 years. It is recorded in churches, and sometimes other places, around the British Isles. And this week they were recording two episodes in our cathedral.

(And yes - we may only be a small island, but we have our own Anglican bishop and, therefore, a cathedral. It is small, not as big as some UK parish churches, and very simple, but it is a cathedral!)

Many of the congregation gathered from all corners of the island were gathered as 'choir' and had rehearsed for two or three hours earlier in the week - they filled all the middle of the cathedral. Those of us with 'congregation' tickets for just one of the two recordings were sat at the sides and in the transept (the 'short arm' of the cross shape.)

I was in the south transept, mainly behind one of the camera booms and near the machine that produces water vapour throughout - so I don't expect to figure largely when the programme is shown on December 1st, but it was fascinating.

The director of music basically demanded the same standard of singing from all of us - whether pre-rehearsed or not - and we went through each of the songs at least three times before he was ready to record them - and then each one was recorded two or three times, to allow the crew to use different camera angles and focus on different areas of the whole congregation.

We were under strict instructions not to look at the cameras, and to wear 'bright colours' as they show up better in the recording - also care had to be taken to check no-one was wearing their remembrance day poppy as we were recording an Advent service. My sister, our friend, and I, all ended up in shades of deep pink - a sort of trio of middle aged Sugar Plum Fairies! If we do make it onto screen we should be easy to spot.

As it was for transmission on the first Sunday of Advent it was a real pleasure to sing some of the Advent carols - even five or six times through. And it was a candle-lit service as well - being for Advent. I was standing almost directly underneath one of the large candle sconces - and so I took a picture of it for the current theme at [ profile] photo_scavenger - which is 'Look up'.

look up

There were a lot of candles - and in the programme it will look as if there are even more as, between different takes of each hymn, the floor crew dashed around moving some of the more portable ones!

There will be a certain mistiness in the final programme too - we weren't sure why there was a machine very close to us producing water vapour for the entire 3.75 hours we were there, possible to add atmosphere to the candle light we thought. Although I just watched this week's programme from the Royal Albert Hall, which was certainly not candle-lit, and realised the same drifts of mist were there too. Perhaps it is not only atmospheric but helps the voices hold out?

This is a picture I took from my spot in the transept, before everyone was in their seats - as I'm pretty sure we weren't meant to take photos once things got under way - but it shows both how small our cathedral is, and how much extra lighting the TV people had put where it wouldn't be too obvious!

preparing for Songs of Praise.

Also - today was ShoeBox Sunday at church - here are 141 boxes of small gifts and love -

Sho Boxes 2013

We think 141 is a new record for our congregation. Our friends from Drop Inn Ministries will take them, in time for Christmas, by very large van to the area around Chernobyl, where children and young people's lives are still blighted by the effects of the explosion in 1986.

Mood:: 'content' content
There are 47 comments on this entry. (Reply.)
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posted by [identity profile] at 05:42pm on 27/10/2013
Oooo! Fame at last! Strange about the mist. Maybe it keeps your vocal chords moist.
posted by [identity profile] at 06:09pm on 27/10/2013
Friends who were also there in the afternoon, when they were recording a programme for sometime in the spring(!), said they didn't notice the mist during that one. But we did think it must be to keep the vocal chords moist - perhaps especially for those who had sung for 4 hours in the afternoon before they did the evening session!
posted by [identity profile] at 05:45pm on 27/10/2013
Our friends from Drop Inn Ministries will take them, in time for Christmas, by very large van to the area around Chernobyl

That's absolutely wonderful. ♥
posted by [identity profile] at 06:12pm on 27/10/2013
Steve and Alison take a large van full of shoe-boxes every year - all from various parts of our community. Schools and churches, Brownie packs and Scout groups, the WI and so on, all contribute. It is not only a labour of love but, to be honest, really good fun filling the boxes, too!
ext_93291: (1fiyou)
posted by [identity profile] at 05:53pm on 27/10/2013
Oh, how lovely. Now that brings back memories, as I always watched Songs of Praise with my Nan on Sunday evenings, and still like to during Advent, so I will definitely watch this.

There will be a certain mistiness in the final programme too - we weren't sure why there was a machine very close to us producing water vapour for the entire 3.75 hours we were there, possible to add atmosphere to the candle light we thought. Although I just watched this week's programme from the Royal Albert Hall, which was certainly not candle-lit, and realised the same drifts of mist were there too. Perhaps it is not only atmospheric but helps the voices hold out?

Maybe that's it, like steaming when you have a sore throat - may keep the mucous membranes moist, as well as lending an atmosphere.
posted by [identity profile] at 06:14pm on 27/10/2013
It was quite fascinating - and I really enjoyed it, even when my back ached from standing up for long periods of time.

I think the mist machine must be to help the voices - although it will probably add something atmospheric to all the lit candles, too.

I may well post a reminder on the day it is to be transmitted - so you can all look out for we three pink ladies!
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posted by [identity profile] at 06:34pm on 27/10/2013
I may well post a reminder on the day it is to be transmitted - so you can all look out for we three pink ladies!

Oh, please do. I am sure I can watch it on BBC iPlayer, if not on the t.v.
kathyh: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] kathyh at 05:55pm on 27/10/2013
My husband was in it years ago when they recorded at Boston Stump. We have a very old recording of him in his choir robes processing into the church :)

It's amazing how long TV can take to record something. Hope you're in shot on the actual programme.
posted by [identity profile] at 06:25pm on 27/10/2013
I'm sure most of the process won't have changes since he was in it, either.

They didn't seem to be making much use of the actual, surpliced and robed, choir. Mind you they are also more parish church level that big cathedral level. But a couple of the tiny choristers were very cute!
posted by [identity profile] at 06:15pm on 27/10/2013
That sounds fun! I love the picture looking up at the sconce.
posted by [identity profile] at 06:28pm on 27/10/2013
I was so glad that that was this week's prompt as it made me actually look up at it - and realise what a nice picture it would make.
posted by (anonymous) at 06:27pm on 27/10/2013
Oh, how fun!
I wonder wether it will be on You Tube as I don't think we can get the Beeb on cable over here!

It is humbling to realize just how far and long reaching something like Chernobyl is. It has been 27 years since the 'incident', the same length of time I have been working at the Mall of Doom for the Evil Empire of the Midwest! Filling those boxes must have been a lot of fun, it is amazing just how much you can get in them.

Oh well, back to sewing Crissy clothes and listening to the Hobbit, in full score no less! I start the serious sewing next week, jeans for the B. H. and some work pants for me and may be start on some pants for the Orclings!

posted by [identity profile] at 06:35pm on 27/10/2013
If it turns up on you Tube I'll mention it. It is being shown on December 1st.

My husband and I have no problem remembering Chernobyl, either; it was the main thing on the news on the day we got married!
posted by [identity profile] at 06:47pm on 27/10/2013
If you do make it on to the screen, hopefully those of us across the Pond will be able to see it as well.

And congratulations!
posted by [identity profile] at 06:57pm on 27/10/2013
I'll try to do a screencap if we make it on screen - but it would be nice if you could actually hear the singing.
posted by [identity profile] at 07:36pm on 27/10/2013
What a fun experience!
posted by [identity profile] at 10:24pm on 27/10/2013
It was really interesting to see the underpinnings, so to speak!
posted by [identity profile] at 08:32pm on 27/10/2013
What a beautiful church! It must have been a fascinating experience indeed!

The boxes look lovely, and I'm sure they're going to give a lot of pleasure to the people who receive them.
posted by [identity profile] at 10:29pm on 27/10/2013
I must take my camera to the cathedral some day when I am over that way; it is basically a converted parish church but still rather nice.

The boxes contain pens & pencils, paper, underwear, hats, scarves, soap and toothpaste, a small toy - not the sort of things our children would be happy with as their main Christmas gift - but still very gratefully received, Alison and Steve tell us.
posted by [identity profile] at 08:51pm on 27/10/2013
Your cathedral is LOVELY, from the bits of it I can see.
posted by [identity profile] at 10:30pm on 27/10/2013
I must go some day with my camera and take some pictures of the interior - it is small but perfectly formed, as they say!
posted by [identity profile] at 09:00pm on 27/10/2013
I remember Songs of Praise coming from our cathedral when I was about 12! (And exactly the same instructions about what to wear/not... though I don't remember a mist machine!)

Do remind us when it's going to be on - I love Advent services. When I was at Cambridge, I had a number of friends (including the Resident Geek) at St John's College; and because Kings' did/does the Christmas Eve service, John's used to have a big Advent Sunday service, which was always broadcast on Radio 3. I went with friends more than once and it was absolutely wonderful; one year I was introduced to John Taverner (the contemporary Taverner, not the 16thc one), whose work I now love.

Did you get to sing O Come, O Come Emmanuel? That's one of my favourites...
Edited Date: 2013-10-27 09:00 pm (UTC)
posted by [identity profile] at 10:36pm on 27/10/2013
It's going to be shown on December 1st - and I will put a reminder on my journal as so many people (you and I included) do love the Advent services, anyway.

We did, indeed, sing O Come, O Come Emmanuel, which is one of my favourites, too. Also 'Of The Father's Love Begotten' (which, somehow, my sister seemed not to know!), two that were new to me; 'Hark, A Thrilling Voice is Sounding', and 'People Look East, The Time Is Near', both rather nice, and easy to learn. Then finally 'Lo! He Comes With Clouds Descending' - which struck us as a little odd as we think of it being an Ascension Day hymn. Nice one to sing, though.
posted by [identity profile] at 10:10pm on 27/10/2013
Your Cathedral looks cozy. I like that...rather a departure from the usual cold stone. And it's great you all perticipated in the recording session.

I love that lamp!
What a wonderful pile of shoebox gifts...that is so heartwarming.
posted by [identity profile] at 10:38pm on 27/10/2013
Cosy is probably a good description. Small and simple, as well.

The candle sconce is lovely - it was one of a pair, they stood about 8 feet or so high.

The shoe boxes are always such a good start to winter - but we certainly excelled ourselves with 141 of them!
posted by [identity profile] at 11:49pm on 27/10/2013
That's great, I must remember to watch!
posted by [identity profile] at 08:43am on 28/10/2013
I will probably post a reminder as a few people have asked me to!
posted by [identity profile] at 11:55pm on 27/10/2013
How lovely - I love the scone and your cathedral is very pretty. I don't think it will be broadcast here in the US, but remind us of when it will be on in any case and I'll be sure to think of you singing along with all of those other wonderful people.

The shoebox gift is a wonderful idea and that they go to the people of Chernobyl is absolutely wonderful. I look at pictures taken since that dreadful day and it is quite spooky. These people lost everything so suddenly, a thriving city became a ghost town. It's wonderful that they haven't been forgotten *hugs*

- Erulisse (one L)
posted by [identity profile] at 06:57pm on 28/10/2013
There were two matching sconces, and there was once a very large circular one, about 8 ft wide with candles set all around, over the centre point of the church. It is still there, but now has electric lights.

The shoe boxes go to children whose parents have no work, or have died young, children who are being brought up by grandparents because their parents have gone away for work, children born with disabilities and so on - so many lives still affected. I think it is really good that this small, local, charity has not forgotten them and moved onto more newsworthy places, as the boxes are still very much appreciated.
posted by [identity profile] at 12:58am on 28/10/2013
That is a truly beautiful cathedral! I would love to be able to hang out there for a few days just photographing the amazing architecture, if the church would allow it. One of these years I'll make it back to Europe...

Thank you so much for sharing these photos!
posted by [identity profile] at 06:58pm on 28/10/2013
It is a very small cathedral - you could photograph the whole place in detail in a couple of hours, to be honest!
posted by [identity profile] at 02:25am on 28/10/2013
Gorgeous cathedral! What a fun thing to do. They were talking about advent at church this morning and I can't quite accept it's time to think about that!
posted by [identity profile] at 07:01pm on 28/10/2013
It was really interesting to be part of it. Our cathedral is small, and certainly not ornate, but very plain in line with the parish churches of the island. I promise I'll go in one day when it is quiet and take some pictures.
posted by [identity profile] at 02:35am on 28/10/2013
I loved this post, it was totally fascinating to find out what goes while the show is being recorded. We have this program here, but it is an Australian version featuring churches from all over Australia.

The shoe boxes look great. I can just imagine the look on the recipient's faces. What a lovely thing to do.
posted by [identity profile] at 07:05pm on 28/10/2013
It was fascinating to be part of the recording process.

The shoe boxes are a church tradition - we have done them for over 10 years now and they are so important to the recipients, even though it doesn't cost us a great deal to fill a box.
posted by [identity profile] at 01:44pm on 28/10/2013
That's so wonderful. Whether you're visible on camera or not (and I hope you are), I just love the idea that you're a part of history now.
posted by [identity profile] at 07:07pm on 28/10/2013
I know - it is a really interesting thing to be there for posterity... somewhere!
posted by (anonymous) at 04:03pm on 28/10/2013
This is totally off topic but just caught the images on Yahoo! One never thinks of quite old England having wild weather but she does on occasion surprise us. Having lived in the wilds of East Anglia for a time I can imagine how it is to survive with out electricity, cooking over the fire and having to rely on the back boiler to heat water! No fun!

The scenes of the explosion are the worst, I hope nobody else was injured and that the death toll stays as low as it is.

It sounds like it just hit the south east, so hopefully you did not experience any of it, I can imagine what a storm of such magnitude could do to your little rock.

posted by [identity profile] at 07:25pm on 28/10/2013
We missed this one - it was just a fairly ordinary blustery day.

Actually, like the other small islands of the British Isles, we are used to gales through the winter - gusts up to 70 or 80 mph are a normal winter occurrence. January 2005 had the worst storms in the last few years when we got winds of up to 112mph.

We just batten down the hatches and wait it out - no boats, no flights, for a day or two!

Because we get pretty severe storms most winters there are not all that many trees that have become unsafe since last time, and the same is true of roof slates and things too - so we tend to see less damage each time as well.

I gather from my daughter that wind speeds in Guernsey got up to 71mph last night, wave records showed 28ft waves - and everything was pretty much normal this morning! Small islands seem to cope remarkably well, really :)
posted by [identity profile] at 04:29pm on 28/10/2013
i'm a real groupie - it's so much fun to be part of a recording/concert you name it. glad you had fun.
posted by [identity profile] at 07:26pm on 28/10/2013
Yes, it really was fascinating to see behind the scenes.
posted by [identity profile] at 10:38pm on 28/10/2013
Your cathedral does look lovely. It must have been a fun thing to take part in.
posted by [identity profile] at 11:50pm on 28/10/2013
It was a really interesting experience, I'm really glad that I went. But you can see what I meant in my comment to your post - our cathedral would probably fit into one of the Durham lady chapels!
posted by [identity profile] at 01:19am on 31/10/2013
I've been involved with our upcoming move and have been very lax in my LJ reading, but it's always a pleasant diversion to follow your life on the island.
posted by [identity profile] at 08:27am on 31/10/2013
It's nice to see that you have time to drop by at the moment. I hope the moving is going well.
posted by [identity profile] at 11:42pm on 04/11/2013
I wonder what the mist really was for, never heard about that in relation to singing - but who knows. Too dry air is difficult to sing in in my experience, but too humind is even worse, as it can cause severe coughing. So perhaps rather for the atmosphere? I'll have to pay attention when I next watch church singing on TV.
This event must have been amazing to participate at, though, and something rather special.
I once have been on BBC Scotland for a few minutes, but the recording also took ages. It was during my time in Paris, when they were doing a program for the celebration of the 700year-French-Scottish relationships, showing Scottish livestyle in Paris. I had just started doing Scottish Country Dancing in the Scots Kirk, was just barely able to find my way around a set, but was shown rather prominently, probably because I was by far the youngest. *giggles* *has fond memories*
posted by [identity profile] at 08:37am on 05/11/2013
The mist machine was a bit of a mystery. We still needed our bottles of water for our drying throats, though!

I can just imagine the TV unit focussing on you, as the youngest dancer, to show how the tradition was staying alive. It is surprising just how long it takes to record a comparatively short amount of finished footage.


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