Well, all good news to report so far.   Yesterday’s setup and final dress rehearsal recording went perfectly.   The crew at the Grand are total pro’s – Steve Manocchio and his assistant Stacey, specifically – and got me and my gear loaded into the theater via the backstage lift in short order, giving us about 2.5 hrs to get mics set and a good spot for my “control room”.    We worked quickly and without a hitch; everything I needed, they got for me, and couldn’t have been more helpful.  I can’t tell you how much something like this helps, right off the bat; we’re in, we’re set up, and things are cooking!

In all, we’re using 23 mics/line feeds for this recording.  (2 mics on the audience for ambience, applause & new year noise-makers, 2 mics on a stereo bar as the main pair for the orchestra, spot mics on all principal players, an M/S ribbon configuration on the winds, 3 on the percussion, as well as piano, celeste and harp.    Last but not least, we’ve got a hand-held mic feed from the house PA, where Maestro Amado will announce various pieces, as well as introduce the orchestra and various segments throughout the performance.

I did a last minute mic placement check onstage around 7:15 and got to say hello to a lot of the musicians, many I know well from their work in and around the area.   I was happy to see concertmaster Luigi Mazzochi on the stand; I’d almost forgotten he was with DSO!   Next I had a brief chat with Music Director David Amado, and we discussed the order of the works he’d be taking in rehearsal, and how we’d compare notes after the real performance.   Another positive sign was how prepared the orchestra was; having been alerted that we planned to record everything “just in case”.   In my experience, this gives everyone a little breathing room; they give a little extra at the dress rehearsal, knowing it’s being recorded, and also lets them kick it out a little bit more at the performance; they can concentrate on their art, and not worry about little mistakes here or there.

I quickly set levels throughout the tuneup and first few pieces, but otherwise we were well on our way.   All tracks were captured flawlessly on my JoeCo “Blackbox” 24 track hard disc recording system, with an SD chip (stereo) backup, and just for redundancy, a CD copy as well.   I had a nice cozy setup backstage, in the connecting space between the Grand and the “Baby Grand” theater right next door.  Sweet!

My 'control room' - backstage at the Grand

By 10 p.m., we were done and quickly struck just the mics, leaving everything else in place for Saturday. (Fortunately, nothing else going on in the theater means everything stays set up and in place for Saturday’s performance.)

Today (Friday), as planned, I transferred all tracks from the rehearsal into my main Sequoia workstation and began working on the overall mix.   Happily, everything came through as planned; I don’t expect to change much at all during the re-set on Saturday.   The orchestra really played well, in top form, even for a dress rehearsal, and I’m more than happy with what we’ve captured.   The strings are solid and lush, and the percussion (esp the huge bass drum) really spice up the sound.  I’m glad I used so many mics!  Lots of control over such nuannced performances.

I’m rendering a temp stereo mix of both halves of the rehearsal as I type this, and will have these ready for “dropping in” bits or pieces here or there, as needed.

Overall, I’m feeling pretty excited about everything at this point, although the big, challenging moments are still to come… We all know things can change quite a bit betwee I’m holding my breath just a little bit longer, until we’ve got it all in the can, sometime around 9:30-10 p.m. tomorrow night – December 31st.

Once again, stay tuned; I’ll have more to share soon!