Friday, 7 September 2012

The Albert Hall

I spent the morning at the Albert Hall today watching a BBC outside broadcast team rehearsing cameras and things for this evening's Prom, which, for the record is Haitink conducting the Vienna Phil. Aside from the fact that they were playing Strauss and Hayden, which is about as hideous as any Proms programme could be, the experience was absolutely fascinating.

The reason I'd been invited to observe the team, was that, on September 29th, I shall be directing the live streaming of the London Requiem performance. It's a massive undertaking, and it's something I've never done before. When telly is live, all the editing is effectively done by a vision mixer (which could well be me!) and everything is powered by meticulous planning and sheer adrenaline!

My mentor throughout the Requiem project has been a wonderful director at the BBC called Jonathan Haswell, who, tomorrow, will be directing the Last Night of the Proms in 3D! Jonathan has an almost Buddhist-like inner calm and I suspect that this is a pre-requisite of being a successful director of Live TV. To do live classical music, you also have to be a pretty decent score reader, have an insanely logical mind and a great understanding of visuals and musical timings. On paper, I have all the skills in abundance I'll need to do a good job... Except maybe the calmness. My default is to get sarcastic when I'm under pressure and this will not go down too well with a team of cameramen who have seen and heard it all before! They don't take crap. A cameraman will always find a way to make a dick head feel very stupid. A cameraman friend of mine once stapled a crisp packet full of dog poo to the back of the desk draw of an editor who'd crossed him once too often!

This afternoon has been about beginning the process of creating a score for the live performance, which is differently scored to the recording. I'm very tired, and am beginning to will away the month so that I can give my mind a little break.

A very busy day for Pepys, 350 years ago, which saw him calling in on Lord Sandwich and finding no one in, but a woman who let him in, and a girl called Sarah in an upstairs room, whom Pepys had a little fondle with... In fact, he did a little more than that:

I went up to her and played and talked with her and, God forgive me, did feel her; which I am much ashamed of, but I did no more, though I had so much a mind to it that I spent in my breeches

Pepys then went to Whitehall Palace, and was taken to the Queen Mother's "presence-chamber" to observe the royals, almost as though they were animals in a zoo. The new Queen, Catherine de Breganza was there...

though she be not very charming, yet she hath a good, modest, and innocent look, which is pleasing
Curiously, the king's lover, Lady Castlemayne also rocked up, and then the King and the Duke of York with the King's bastard 15-year old son, the pretty spark, James Scott (Mr Crofts). Pepys was thrilled to see them all together in one room, and even more thrilled to hear the queen say a few words of English; "you lie!" were the words she spoke. I bet she got rather used to saying that to him!

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