Adopt a Music Creator blog: A memorable recording

Liv Feilden, member of The Phoenix Voices, describes how it was to record for BBC Radio 3 as part of Adopt a Music Composer 2020/21.

Another sunny day dawned, and the Phoenix Voices made their way up the steep hill to the picturesque location of St Michael’s Church in East Coker, which looked out over a stunning view of Somerset’s fields and trees, now at last shaded with the green shades of summer. It seemed appropriate to be surrounded by nature in such a way, given the premise of Lucy’s songs. 

It was a privilege singing in this Gothic building, given its brilliant acoustics and its being the burial place of the great poet T.S. Eliot. However, choir members had to be careful making their way round the church, with its uneven stone floor and, today, several trip hazards in the form of wires. Right in the middle of the building, for instance, a huge microphone had been erected for the recording – very exciting, but nerve-wracking as well. 

members of the choir singing in church

Members of the choir record their songs in the beautiful St Michael's Church

As we were on a time limit, we only had time to record Woods, Steep Seas and Lover's Lane. Our progress was slightly inhibited by Kris accidentally pressing a button on his electric piano that played high tempo percussion – not in keeping with Lucy’s music at all! This happened a few times, provoking laughter amongst the choir. 

We were joined by two magnificent tenors, Val and Matt, who appeared to have learnt the songs in no seconds flat. We gathered round the microphone for the recording of Woods, in a semi-circle so as to be sure we could see one another. It felt pretty cool, hearing the sounds of our wolves, walkers, cuckoos, and imitations of wind rustling through the trees echoing off the church’s walls as we sang. 

'The idea that, one day soon, complete strangers will tune into Radio 3 and hear our Phoenix Voices rising out of the speakers is, to put it mildly, jaw-dropping.'

Steep Seas required a little experimentation over how we choreographed it. The sellers and beach-goers started the song at the back of the church, before tiptoeing to join the rest of the choir as quietly as possible, in order not to drown out the sea shanty singers – no pun intended! We then recorded Lover's Lane and headed out into the sunshine, at the end of an intense but memorable weekend of singing. 

Well done, everyone! The idea that, one day soon, complete strangers will tune into Radio 3 and hear our Phoenix Voices rising out of the speakers is, to put it mildly, jaw-dropping. And congratulations, Lucy. If this is just the beginning, here’s hoping that a long and successful career of composing lies ahead of you. 

Find out more about The Phoenix Voices on their website and follow them on Facebook / Twitter.

Find out more about Lucy Callen on the website and follow her on Facebook / Twitter.

The Adopt a Music Creator project matches vocal and instrumental leisure-time music groups with some of the UK’s most promising music creators to collaborate on creating a new piece of music. The project leads to a premiere performance and possible broadcast. If you’re a music group or music creator and you’d like to take part, find out more.