curiouswombat: (notes from a small island)
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 [livejournal.com 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

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