Frank Horvat and Julian Decorte editing album Me to We at Canterbury Studios

Me to We – Recording Day

Last Thursday, I was fortunate to head into Canterbury Studios to record three of my compositions for an upcoming album called Me to We. These three “classical” chamber works are based on the themes of solitude, yearning and being in love (in that order). For scheduling purposes, we had to record them in reverse order. But that was okay since all the musicians and engineers were so top-notch.

So, here’s what a day recording an album is like…

My wife/manager Lisa and I meet piano duo / married couple, Gregory Millar and Lisa Raposa on the TTC on our way in to Canterbury, to record the first piece, Piano Piece No. 4, For Me & You. When we arrive, I walk in to greet Canterbury’s head honcho, Jeremy Darby, wanting to shake his hand. “Don’t come near me”, he exclaims (add British accent). “I think I have pneumonia.” He looked and sounded awful but he was a true pro with everything already set up ready to go. Trying to get a recording session with so many varied schedules is like trying to arrange a meeting at the UN! So we’re so lucky Jeremy’s not the type to cancel.

Frank Horvat and Jeremy Darby at the Me to We recording session May 12, 2016

Lisa and Greg record Piano Piece No. 4. This is the happy ending piece of the album since it is inspired by a happy couple being together. I wrote this piece in the late 90s and it is a true minimalist piece. It was originally intended for (my) Lisa and I to play for fun but it unravelled into something much too technically complex. Because of it’s “loopy” nature, Greg and Lisa were able to record it in chunks, and I mean LOT’s of chunks (it’s a 15min piece). Despite it’s carefree, happy and inspirational feel, it’s tricky rhythmically (typical Horvat composition:)). But they pulled it off splendidly. Lot’s of editing together to come on this one.

Frank Horvat, Lisa Raposa and Greg Millar recording Piano Piece No. 4 for the Me to We album at Canterbury Studios May 12 2016

We say bye to Lisa Raposa. Greg stays and we have lunch. Greg still has 2 more pieces to go today. Jeremy is on the phone trying to call his doctor as his associate engineer, Julian, arrives to take over. Jeremy utters many expletives as he cannot get in touch with his family physician and plans to visit a nearby walk-in clinic. Violinist, Edwin Huizinga and cellist, Erika Nielsen arrive to join Greg in recording the next piece.

Edwin Huizinga and Erika Nielsen arrive to record I Wait For You for Frank Horvat's Me to We album at Canterbury Studios 2016

Julian takes over mission control and recording for my next composition, I Wait for You, begins. This piece is for violin, cello and piano and captures our protagonist’s wish to be with someone, to find love. From a musical standpoint, I was a bit concerned about this one as these 3 musicians had never performed this piece together before this session.

Edwin Huizinga, Greg Millar and Erika Nielsen recording Frank Horvat's I Wait for You

Some of the first go-arounds were a bit rusty. I thought it would be easy but I’m quickly figuring out that my textures feature some hard rhythms that are challenging for musicians to follow. So the session sort of became a rehearsal.

Edwin Huizinga and Gregory Millar rehearse I Wait for You by Frank Horvat

Edwin Huizinga and Erika Nielsen rehearse I Wait for You by Frank Horvat

They got more and more and more comfortable with it. By the end, it sounded beautifully flawless. I’m sure it will be those last takes that will probably end up being what makes it to the final edit.

Greg eats the most gigantic roti I’ve ever seen in my life (he still has one more piece to record). Jeremy returns from the walk-in clinic. He doesn’t have pneumonia but the doctor is not sure what’s wrong, he has to go for x-rays…I feel so bad for him. Fortunately, Julian is doing an admirable job holding down the fort. Flutist, Jamie Thompson arrives to record the next piece.

Julian Decorte and Jamie Thompson getting ready to record Me by Frank Horvat

Jamie and Greg record Me, the last piece of the day, which will be the first piece on the album. This piece is all about being alone. It’s moody and by the sound of it, it’s ambiguous on what emotions the person is feeling. I like that. It’s nice to let the audience decide sometimes. But the piece is very heartfelt and melancholy. Jamie’s lovely flute timbre and Greg’s understated touch at the keys brought this new piece to life. The session went so well and the playing was so flawless, we were able to finish an hour earlier than intended. Phew, we got all the music done!

Gregory Millar and Jamie Thompson recording Me by Frank Horvat

With our spare time, Julian and I start editing. At this point, I am getting tired. It’s been a long day of listening carefully over and over and giving musicians feedback on interpretation. But we got a good head-start on this stage and editing should be done by the beginning of June.

Frank Horvat and Julian Decorte editing album Me to We at Canterbury Studios

Looking back on the day, it was intense. The music is emotional and from the heart. I sort of felt like crying (happy tears) for an extended period of the day. Of course, there were also some laughs at funny slips and bumping into mics, but otherwise these musicians were so professional and really got into the music…I feel so fortunate to have worked with them all.

So up next is editing, mixing and then mastering perhaps in the fall, and then hopefully an album release of some type early next year. So much already done yet so much to go. Can’t wait to share!

Gregory Millar and Jamie Thompson recording Me by Frank Horvat


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