A lot goes into a good recording session. The right sound team needs to be sought out and chosen, the performers have to put in their time to make sure they know each piece inside and out, travel plans need to be made, and the recording days require steady focus. All of these elements together will make for a good session with a successful end result.
To have a great session takes something special.
This spring, PARMA traveled to Ohio to work with a familiar face: flutist and Navona Records artist Lindsey Goodman. Having released solo music and toured China with PARMA, Lindsey is no stranger to the family, and this session she was recording the works of eight composers – Mara Helmuth, Jason Taurins, Joshua Oxford, Steven Block, Bruce Babcock, Alla Cohen, Jennifer Jolley, and Peter Castine – who had taken part in a recent Call for Scores collection.
The group arrived at the Weigel Hall Auditorium at The Ohio State University and got right to work. With Grammy Award-winning producer (and, as Lindsey describes him, “closet wizard”) Brad Michel in the booth, there were already no doubts that the session was in good hands. Lindsey, of course, also came more than prepared:
“With any recording session, it’s important to have a performance practice of each work in place from live interaction with an audience. An individual piece isn’t alive or truly known to me until my interpretation has been shared with others in a concert environment, the experience of which informs my continued journey with the work.” Lindsey had already worked diligently to bring each piece to life, long before the recordings even began.
“Performing all of the solo works, having them performance-ready, and reaching maximum stamina were all important aspects of preparing for a successful recording session to ensure that each work could be captured in its essence,“ she continued.
As their recordings came to life, several of the composers arrived to attend. Mara Helmuth, Peter Castine, and Jennifer Jolley stood by in person while their works came into being, and were able to not only give real-time feedback, but witness as Lindsey was able to effortlessly pivot when a new request was made. Composers who were unable to attend were still able to call in and watch, and even take part in the celebratory post-session selfie.
Lindsey was also joined by Robert Frankenberry for flute-piano duos, and the Leviathan Trio (in action once again after their successful China Tour last summer) for moving performances of flute, cello, and piano.
And, of course, one of the benefits of traveling for sessions is experiencing what the local culture has to offer – particularly in the way of food. And Columbus did not disappoint.
“Since the sessions were held in my home city of Columbus, it was also important to me that the team experienced local flavor. From Melt, an Ohio-born gourmet grilled cheese restaurant, to Condado, the local hipster taco joint, and from BIBIBOP, a Columbus-grown Korean chain, to neighborhood Chinese restaurants which brought the flavors from my 2018 PARMA China Tour back home, everyone ate well during their week in Columbus, too!”
As the sessions finally wrapped up (with the team being well ahead of the game with Lucas editing on site), everyone left knowing that not only had something great just happened – something even better was coming with the finished album. “The result of PARMA’s spring 2018 call for scores, this compilation album features two pieces by composers whose work I know and love and seven works by composers who were new to me prior to this experience. I hope that, like me, listeners find fresh voices, exciting ideas, and new favorite creators and works!”
Having a good session takes being prepared. Having a great session takes passion, connection to the pieces and people involved, and going that extra mile.