Recording Live Orchestras & Choirs With Our Sound Engineering Students

An extracurricular activity, organised by programme lead Florian Zwietnig, our Creative Audio Production & Sound Engineering students have the regular opportunity to record live orchestras and choirs.

When you think of sound engineering, what comes to mind? Gargantuan mixing consoles – check. The unaccountably zen sound person at gigs – check. The truly sound friend who just mastered your latest track – check. You probably aren’t imagining a whole team, gaffer tape in hand, headphones on ears, trailing miles of wires and tens of microphones around an enormous old church. As our Creative Audio Production & Sound Engineering students will tell you, recording an entire orchestra or choir is nothing less than a heroes’ quest.

The extracurricular activity is organised by programme lead Florian Zwietnig. “I started the recording series in 2016,” he tells us. “Although it is simply not possible to match the timeline of Catalyst semesters with the schedule of the orchestras, it ties in tightly with our syllabus. Students gain intense experience in studio recording techniques and practices.” Florian was fortunate enough to find two conductors covering a broad range of classical ensembles, from brass and string orchestras to choirs and large bands.

“The orchestra recording sessions were a really great experience!” student Ljudevit Ivic told us after the December 2018 orchestra recording. “We’ve done three sessions so far; one of them in Auenkirche and the two others in Apostoles-Paulus Kirche. In all of the sessions, we tried some interesting mic placements, trying out up to 10 or 12 microphones. The main idea was to use the famous ‘Decca tree‘ mic technique. The rest was improvisation; trying to figure out how to get a bigger stereo image.”

“All three sessions went pretty good, with only some minor problems occurring,” Ljudevit continued. “But thanks to those issues, we learnt more and got more experience. Sometimes you just can’t fight the unpredictable digital world. All in all, the orchestra recording practice was a really nice opportunity to gain knowledge about stereo micing techniques and working efficiently as part of a team. You never know where and when you will use the new things that you learn – even if they’re not your number-one interest. I would recommend this extracurricular activity to all the present and future students at Catalyst!”

Listen to some of our students' orchestra and choir recordings below.

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