Ingestre Hall is always a hive of activity and creativity, but from 17-19 February we added full celebrity status to our resume when Boy George came to stay here in order to headline a charity recording project taking place over the weekend.
The project, masterminded by Matthew Jones Music, brought together a talented choir and live musicians who underwent intensive rehearsals in order to record Matthew’s arrangements of some well known 1960s songs for a CD, featuring Boy George as soloist, all in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care.
Matthew Jones has said
As lead singer of Culture Club, Boy George became a global superstar in the early 80’s with the classics ‘Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?’ and ‘Karma Chameleon’. Having achieved solo success with such singles as ‘Everything I Own’ and ‘The Crying Game’, he launched an illustrious career as an international DJ and later penned and starred in the West End and Broadway musical ‘Taboo’. 30 years on from his ‘poster boy’ days of the New Romantic era, the icon’s androgynous looks and personal life continue to fascinate the world’s media.
The new release will celebrate the great Italian ballads of the 60’s – in particular, those that became English-version hits including ‘Io Che Non Vivo (Senza Te)’ (Dusty Springfield’s ‘You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me’), ‘Il Mio Mondo’ (Cilla Black’s ‘You’re My World’) and ‘La Vita’ (Shirley Bassey’s ‘This Is My Life’)”
It was exciting to be part of such a high profile project and everyone on the staff at Ingestre Hall was impressed by the extremely high standard of musicianship demonstrated by the choir and orchestra; and of course the highlight was being able to see and hear Boy George’s unique vocal talent on display, right here in the Great Hall. Of course there were also the challenges of accommodating and feeding over 80 adults, maintaining adequate security and keeping everyone happy – all tasks that the Ingestre Hall staff set about with both typical good humour and professionalism.
The recording was undertaken by our partner organisation, Studio 2 Recordings, with John Percival coordinating and John Sambrook engineering. This was no mean feat, and turned out to be the most complicated recording project that has been undertaken at Ingestre Hall. One of the main technical difficulties to overcome was the requirement from Matthew to produce a ‘live’ sound by recording the choir and orchestra together in the Great Hall. This was achieved using multiple microphone positions, 24 simultaneous tracks and of course by Matthew ensuring that mistakes were eradicated through intensive rehearsal of each of the songs. Even one small mistake, a cough, or a musician unhappy with their performance could result in an entire take being stopped and everyone having to ‘go again’. (No wonder the choir all cheered so loudly each time they were informed that there was a successful take ‘in the can’!)
Although this approach might have seemed laborious at times, I don’t think that we’re giving anything away by saying that, having listened to some of the recordings, the results are truly spectacular and well worth the effort!
Amongst all of this busyness we were also able to chat with Boy George on numerous occasions over the weekend, between rehearsals and takes, and he very kindly agreed to pose for a few photo with members of the Ingestre Arts and Studio 2 Recordings team before he had to depart on the Sunday evening.
Following the success of this weekend, we are excited to be partnering with Studio 2 Recordings to host more recording projects in the coming months at Ingestre Hall, the next project being with the National Police Symphony Orchestra, so we’ll be sure to be on our best behaviour for that!
If you have an ensemble group who you would like to be recorded in the Great Hall or if you wish to hire the recording studio for a smaller project, contact John Percival at Studio 2 Recordings or contact Ingestre Arts to check on availablity for residential weekends.
John Thomson, Head of Centre