About this time two years ago, I had a remarkable conversation with our Music Director, Anne Manson. She said that Philip Glass was interested in recording his Symphony No. 3 and a new piano concerto from his soundtrack for The Hours, and that he wanted her to conduct the recording! He said he was happy for her to use her Canadian orchestra (us!), and so the wheels were put in motion … and here is the result!
About a month ago, we saw the draft of the CD cover and information booklet, and knew we were getting close. Just last week, Richard Guerin at Orange Mountain Music was back in contact to say that a Canadian distributor had been confirmed, and we were delighted to hear that it was to be harmonia mundi, with long-time friend of the MCO, David Feick, looking after details. Richard wanted to be sure that the discs were ready before deciding on the release date, so it was an exciting day when he was able to confirm that the official release date is to be February 26, 2013! The project finally seemed real when the first box of discs arrived in the office on Wednesday, January 30th!
The back story
This was too large an opportunity to turn down, so our thoughts turned to how best to tackle this project. We knew we wanted to play the music as many times as possible before recording it, so that meant putting a tour together in record time for an orchestra. We normally work about two years in advance so that presenters can be approached and funding can be confirmed.
We thought the ideal situation would be to finish up at CBC’s Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto for the actual recording, so that meant that we should tour in that region. After many phone calls to presenters all over Eastern Canada, I happened to call Lawrence Cherney, the Artistic Director of Soundstreams new music group in Toronto. He said that they had already finalized their plans for the coming season, but suggested that I contact Glenn Buhr at NUMUS.
Glenn was very receptive to the idea of hosting us for a concert on the NUMUS season. He splits his time between Kitchener-Waterloo and Winnipeg, so we met at his house in Winnipeg and had a long talk about the project. He said that he had given it a lot of thought, and had discussed it with his board of directors, and that they would like to host three concerts in SW Ontario — in Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto. We agreed on a fee, and the Canada Council supported us with a touring grant.
So on 14 September 2011, we gave the opening concert of the 2011/12 season and then traveled to these three centres, performing The Hours (Michael Riesman, piano) and Symphony No. 3, as well as a suite from Glass’s soundtrack from Dracula. The fourth concert, at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto, was recorded, and that night Michael Riesman and Anne Manson spent several hours listening to the recording. They made notes of which sections might benefit from a bit of recorded ‘tweaking’ and the following day (September 18) the orchestra spent six hours in the studio, recording patches that would seamlessly match the original recording.
Over the next several months, Michael Riesman and Anne Manson were in regular contact to hone the final master recording. Since the musical computer files are so large, Michael would post the tracks on a secure site for Anne to download, and she would work with those.