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Live recording of DAO in the Beijing Forbidden City Hall

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Last Sunday, June 12th, I had a took on a job to do a live recording of a unique and diverse performance in the Beijing Forbidden City Concert Hall for conductor Nick Smith of the Peking Sinfonietta and International Festival Choir, with guests on Percussion Claviers de Lyon from France.

Forbidden City Music Hall
Not only was the line up of performers unique, but the material itself, with Creation by Gérard Lecointe Rapsodie Espagnole by Maurice Ravel, and the world-premiere of a new specially-commissioned work – DAO – from renowned Chinese composer He Shaoying. Described by the composer as a musical manifestation of Chinese philosophical thought, the work included many special effects to realize his vision

The gamut of instruments was impressive and a bit of a challenge to record live accurately given the dynamics of the performance which ranged from a literal whisper of the choir to thunder of massive bass drum and gongs. There was quite a range of tuned percussion, xylophone, marimba, bells, vocals, grand piano, and other instruments I didn’t recognize. Not only were the instruments diverse, but how they were played in extended manner, striking piano strings with hand, and bowing the marimba rather than playing with the mallet.
I guess when musically representing the ‘creation of the universe according to DAO’ then these techniques are necessary.
I used a simple stereo mic setup in the front row, recording through a firewire interface into my Macbook Pro laptop:

Forbidden City Music Hall Mic setup with first movement, only 4 performers

Forbidden City Music Hall Mic setup for first movement, only 4 performers

It was Presented by China International Culture Exchange Center and China International Cultural and Arts Company.
Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to take a photo with the full orchestra, but from my seat I couldn’t see it all.

I don’t imagine the recording will be released to the public, but if you come by the studio sometime you can have a listen, it’s quite something.