Dropping the Needle on William and Catherine's 'I Do'
Noted Record Producer Finds Unique Challenges in Wedding
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Every sweep of gown and trumpet blow will be captured on April 29 when Catherine Middleton marries Prince William in the highly anticipated royal wedding at Westminster Abbey. The ceremony is to be digitally recorded and immediately released, a first for the British monarchy.
Classical music producer Anna Berry, who has produced over 500 recordings of works ranging from works by Andrew Lloyd Webber to opera at the Mariinsky Theatre with Valery Gergiev, will coordinate the audio stunt. The recording will be released by Decca Records.
While the ceremony unfolds for the 1,900 invited guests inside the Abbey, and untold millions watch live around the world, Barry and her audio team of “six blokes in a truck” will be parked outside monitoring, adjusting and ultimately hoping for the best.
“The pressure to get this absolutely right will be enormous,” Barry said in an interview with WQXR. “The consequences of making a mistake on this one would be so horrible and public and awful.”
Barry and her team, working together with the BBC, will lay cable and place microphones at strategic points throughout the Abbey.
“We will be going in as close as we can so that we can keep the ambient noise to a minimum,” Barry said. “We are capturing all of the music from the very first moment that the organist starts playing as people start arriving at the Abbey.”
While Barry does not personally know the royal couple, who she says came up with the idea to do the digital recording, she’s committed to making sure the album comes off without a hitch.
“It's something that everybody in the UK feels very close to,” Barry said. “We're very close to our royal family and this wedding is kind of everybody's wedding.”
Barry’s team will aim have the largely untouched audio of the ceremony—from the moment that the Queen arrives at the Abbey to the moment the bride and groom stand at the steps of Westminster Abbey beneath a peal of bells—up on iTunes within one hour of recording. By May 5, the CD, vinyl and cassette recordings of the event will be made available.
Vinyl? And cassettes? As in, tapes?
“I think we have to remember that this wedding is for absolutely everybody all over the world who cares about the British royal family and is interested,” Barry said. “And there are an enormous number of people who are still not in the digital age; they are not downloading stuff yet. Decca wants to make sure that nobody is excluded from having a memento of this event. So we will be releasing it on cassette and on vinyl as well.”
Barry will have recordings of the rehearsal on hand as well. In the event of a major audio mishap, her team will switch in audio from the quieter, likely calmer, run-through.
“Editing would only be if somebody dropped something,” Barry said. “We might try to cover it with a moment from the rehearsal.”
Decca, which has also released recordings of the wedding of Charles and Diana, Prince and Princess of Wales in 1981, and Diana's funeral in 1997, has said £1 from each album sold will go to The Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry -- the prince's charitable fund.
Barry, who is apparently aware of the musical line-up for the day but has been sworn to secrecy, would add only, “I think that it will be the perfect, quintessential British wedding that everybody else in the world would love to be a part of.”
As an American listening to her comments, the question still begged answering: what exactly makes for the quintessential British wedding?
“You'll find out if you watch or if you buy our download our CD,” Barry said. “I’m not going to give anything more away but you won’t regret it. It’s going to be beautiful.”