We started rehearsing in January of 2012 with some different kinds of songs that Peter had arranged for the group. A few of these songs like "Be Thou My Vision" and "A Mighty Fortress" stood out to us as something special so we decided to make hymns the theme of this project.
Because of our work schedules, we would either meet early in the morning or late at night. We started recording the two arrangements we had and Peter went to work writing the rest of the album. Each time we met, Peter would show up with a new arrangement and we'd record it. Amy and I had very little to do with choosing the musical selections so every new song was a surprise to us.
Musically, one of the biggest challenges for a brass trio is balancing to the other players while trying to stay comfortable during usually taxing music with very little rest. As the soprano voice,
I was going for a sound that was colorful and vibrant but was also flexible enough to quickly switch gears and take on a supporting role. Having
tried Bb, C, flugelhorn, and cornet all with varied successes, I decided to bring my Yamaha YTR948FFMGS rotary C trumpet to a rehearsal. Right away the group was comfortable with the balance, pitch, and sound. I was thrilled with the result! By adding more width and depth (while retaining color) to the soprano voice, the YTR948FFMGS rotary C trumpet has become my default instrument in the group ever since.
We recorded "An Offering" at Emmanuel Reformed Church in Paramount, Ca where Peter and his family attend. It was a great space for us because it was a large room and we had access to the facility whenever we needed it. We wanted the album to have an organic and unprocessed sound to it so we used a very simple recording set up that put the pressure on us to really perform rather than the engineer (also me) configure a sound that would work.
This meant we were always recording. We reviewed every take as we recorded it and discussed pitch, balance, style, and sound for every single phrase. It wasn't the fastest process, but we felt it would be the most thorough and that was more important.
Because our set up was easy (11" Macbook Air, Apogee ONE, Cascade Fathead II Ribbon Mic, and coffee) and most takes were more or less decided on by the group at each session, mixing was very simple. Mastering was the main hurdle partially due to my inexperience, but mainly because of the difficulty of having to compromise the wide range of dynamics used in classical music. While the album needs to have dynamics, it has to be loud enough so it matches other albums when played in a playlist in iTunes. It took time and patience, but I think I eventually got there.
Our last session was a morning vocal session in Peter's living room on June 2nd. Afterwards, Peter and I drank coffee, reflected on the challenges of this project and shared how much we have learned by making this album. I hope you enjoy this album as much as I enjoyed helping make it.