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  • May 4th be with you

       We are in high spirits after receiving two nominations for best album from The Classic Brits this week. Alexander Armstrong’s album, In a Winter Light and also the album we produced for Dame Vera Lynn’s centenary called 100. I don’t see how we can possibly win against the might that is Boe and Ball, but it is still lovely to receive nominations! We also have an album of John Williams, A Life
  • Pop Goes Classical

      Alongside some guitar arrangements for the next album of virtuoso Japanese guitarist, Kaori, we’ve had great fun this month arranging more pop songs in a classical style. This follows on from the success of our album last year for Classic FM, Pop Goes Classical, featuring the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. This time we’ve recorded them as piano duets (cheaper than an orchestra) and this has the advantage that we can play them ourselves. Playing the piano
  • 2017

    We produced 7 albums in 2017 and have been enjoying a break with the family this past week. We never know which albums are going to win over the public; we were sad Ella Fitzgerald with the LSO (Someone to Watch Over Me) didn’t get the airplay we felt it deserved, but then the stellar sales of Dame Vera 100 took us completely by surprise.   I think we are most proud of putting on Symfunny No 2
  • In a Winter Light

    Christmas came early for us this year in the form of Alexander Armstrong’s new Christmas album, A Winter Tale. As we’ve known him since our University days, it was a real treat to work with him on the album even if it did mean recording Christmas carols in June!   What was lovely was revisting with Xander some of the many carols we performed together as choral scholars in the days when James would have been
  • Jason Manford can sing!

    Yes, it’s official. Having spent several months this year recording him, we can verify that not only is he a really lovely bloke, but Jason Manford can sing - and really rather well. In fact, he’s been singing for years having toured the country in several musicals but most people still only know him as a comedian instead of the all round entertainer he is. James first conducted him in a duet on Alfie Boe’s
  • Ella Centenery with the LSO

    The centennial of Ella Fitzgerald’s birthday has been celebrated throughout this year and now culminates with the release this Friday of SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME. It’s been two years of work for us and features digitally remastered vocal tracks from Ella’s original Decca and Verve recordings paired with newly orchestrated and arranged performances by the London Symphony Orchestra and a duet from Gregory Porter. When
  • My Journey

    Here’s a lovely story for those of you fed up with the rather depressing news we have to face every day at the moment. This photo, taken on the Greek Macedonian border last year, was shortly after this young Syrian violinist crossed the Mediterranean Sea with his violin in a dinghy. The boat capsized three times but Rami had wrapped his violin in plastic and swam with it on his back to safety. It was very moving to
  • Happy Birthday Dame Vera

    We did try tweeting Ed Sheeran, currently hogging the No.1 spot in the charts, but he wouldn’t do the right thing and endorse Dame Vera’s new album! However, we were delighted to get the number 3 spot when all the ages of the other artists in the top 5 combined still don’t reach Dame Vera’s 100 years. It was an absolute pleasure to produce this album but quite a challenge as
  • Top 10 for Collabro

    We were delighted to see Collabro’s new album, Home (produced by ourselves of course), enter the charts at no.7 this week. Even more impressive is that these four gentlemen did it all on their own. Who needs Simon Cowell when you have four such enterprising and hard working lads. From start to finish, they A&Red the album, sang on the album, marketed the album and having landed a Top 10 spot, left many other of
  • Symfunny no.2

    We are in Liverpool for the second time this week to record the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. This is a new project with Classic FM to celebrate their 25th birthday. I can’t say what it is yet, except to say that the 25 years has a special significance with the music we are recording and it has been the most orchestrating fun we have ever had on an album. This week has also seen the announcement of our
  • Christmas Music

    We’ve had a couple of months of producing in the studio so we are both looking forward to getting back on stage tomorrow for the annual Family Christmas Concert with the Brighton Festival Chorus and Youth Choir accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic in the Brighton Dome. We will be welcoming back the tenor, Nicky Spence who is bound to make someone corpse, just hoping I can hold it together this year. Studio wise, we have had a ball
  • Duet Partners

    I’ve duetted with all sorts of people over the years, probably the most memorable was with Meat Loaf on ITV’s Popstar to Opera Star when I accidentally picked up his water bottle at the sound check, before realising my error when the lining of my oesophagus was burnt raw after taking a rather large swig. At Port Eliot Festival, however, my duet partner wasn’t capable of drinking anything and didn’t even bother
  • Happy Christmas?

    We are still finishing off a piano album of Christmas Music. Who knew that Jingle Bells would work so well in the minor? There is nothing like arranging Christmas Carols during a rather wet May to discover how depressing you can make them sound. Turns out that not only Jingle Bells, but Ding Dong Merrily on High and The First Nowell can all be made to sound utterly miserable without much effort. Imagine what we’ve done to God
  • Shakespeare to Syrians

    Last Saturday was the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and James spent the day in Stratford Upon Avon celeb spotting with the BBC Singers. They did a couple of live broadcasts with James conducting while they were there; they had to justify their day out after all. It turned out that a lot of people also thought it would be fun to spend the day hobnobbing with acting royalty, and even real royalty, so much so, many of
  • ENO Chorus

    As someone who used to work at ENO, I have been closely following recent news about the ENO chorus; although they are no longer striking, the chorus still face a large salary reduction, a nine month contract, and a 10% reduction in their workforce. Our national opera company now has a part time chorus. And now their music director, Mark Wigglesworth, has resigned amidst rumours that he was unhappy with the direction of the company. He had apparently made a
  • Christmas Concert

      In the words of Noddy Holder: “It’s Christmas” For James and me that means a return to the Brighton Dome this Saturday, December 12th for the annual Family Christmas Concert with Brighton Festival Chorus, Brighton Festival Youth Choir and the Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra. You might have seen the chorus earlier this week surprising commuters in Brighton Station with a flashmob performance? We are delighted to welcome back the tenor, Nicky Spence, who is flying in
  • Virtual Chorus

    Earlier this year we were commissioned by the 2015 Brighton Festival to write a Cantata for Liberty, Invictus, to mark the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. It draws on texts from a number of authors about Liberty. 'No Rack Can Torture Me' is a setting of a beautiful Emily Dickinson poem, and forms the second movement of Invictus. It's an especially poignant text for us with James’ Parkinson’s diagnosis; there is a very personal and
  • Last Night of the Proms

    The BBC just asked us for the score and parts for Lucrezia, a song we composed based on a fragment of the Handel Cantata of the same name. I recorded it myself (many years ago) for Sony and soprano Danielle de Niese also recorded it more recently for Decca. Turns out she is the soloist for this year’s Last Night of the Proms and wants to sing it this Saturday.  Although no one’s told us
  • Ebacc and creative subjects

    I’ve just signed an online petition to say I believe creative subjects should be included in school accountability measures. Last month the Government announced that every child starting in year 7 in September will be expected to study core academic subjects that make up the Ebacc right up to GCSE. The omission of creative subjects from this core will inevitably lead to a decline in resources and space in the timetable for the arts. Yet there are numerous
  • Quadrophenia

    This week is a busy one. Collabro's new album, Act Two went into the charts at no.2, Quadrophenia (for which we acted as mix consultants) was released in the UK and US and the premiere of our new Cantata for Liberty, Invictus, will be in the Brighton Dome this Thursday. As tickets sales have been a bit slow, on Saturday morning James and I went onto BBC Radio Sussex to try to promote the concert. Imagine my horror
  • Act Two at no.2 in Midweeks

    We heard today that the record we produced for BGT winners, Collabro, is at no.2 in the Midweeks. Ironically the album's called Act Two so I can't help wondering if they made a mistake not calling it Act One, maybe then we might stand a chance of pipping Florence and the beautiful red hair to the no.1 spot... The boys are doing a great job singing on every television show possible so fingers crossed it stays
  • Magna Carta Education Day

    The premiere of our new piece Invictus – a Cantata for Liberty will be at the Brighton Dome on June 11th to mark the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. In preparation for this, 150 Year 7 and 8 students from 5 local schools and members of Brighton Festival Youth Choir took part in a day of drama, music and law workshops, relating to the Magna Carta, led by professionals from Chichester Festival Theatre, barrister Tom Godfrey and BFYC&rsquo
  • Collaborating with Collabro

    Britains Got Talent winners, Collabro have been in the studio all week recording the vocals for their new album with us. The are a great group go guys with a great work ethic; they’ve just finished a long tour but have knuckled down straight away to recording and already produced some lovely vocals despite fighting coughs and colds etc. So I’m glad to say it has been a joy to collaborate with Collabro or even to
  • Classic Rock

    5 years ago we produced an album for Universal called Classic Rock; orchestral arrangements of rock anthems. We used rock musicians from Sweden and City of Prague Philharmonic. I know it was 5 years ago as I very clearly remember being fast tracked at Swedish passport control due to being heavily pregnant (with twins) and on crutches. At the time I was terrified they were about to tell me they wouldn’t allow me to fly but I think
  • Christmas Concert

    You know you’re getting old when you find yourself near Christmas fighting the desire to comment about how quick it’s all come round this year blah blah. So I’ve deleted the original start to this blog and will begin with observing that after a long and arduous year we thought would never end, we finally find ourselves with Christmas concerts upon us. We didn’t record any Christmas songs in July like last
  • Serenata Released Today

    Here it is, Alfie’s new Album of Italian songs is out today. We recorded it in April/May this year in the very same studios as the original Band Aid single “Feed the World” which has sadly now been made into a block of luxury apartments so this will be the last album produced there. My favourite song on the album is Addio, sogni di gloria which means ‘Goodbye, dreams of glory’. We were
  • Moroccan Madness

    This is a photo of the service station I stopped at to ‘refresh’ halfway through a 4 hour drive though the Atlas Mountains last week. Before you ask, they didn’t sell coffee. I was on my way to work on the set of a film being shot out there, in the same place as Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator, The Mummy and pretty well any film involving sand in the last few decades. The music we have
  • Spirited Scunthorpe

    James and I were up in Scunthorpe with the RPO last weekend giving them the full Last Night of the Proms treatment. What a crowd! The Baths Hall can’t seat more than a thousand but it sounded like there were 10 times that. 3 encores and then James was booed for finally leaving the stage! Next week the same team is in Lowestoft. We will be entertaining local school children in the afternoon before giving another Prom concert
  • Symfunny

    Is the picture too large? You couldn’t see the orchestra and teeny tiny James conducting if I posted it any smaller. Symfunny was a huge success. It was a fantastic night, everyone, both performers and audience were incredibly warm and generous and Parkinson’s UK announced that 125k was raised for research into new treatments and that golden ticket, a cure. We were both overwhelmed by the support we received from friends and colleagues and even some
  • Mixing Alfie Boe

    No, I’m not baking an Alfie cake, we are just putting the finishing touches to the mixes for Alfie’s new album. We recorded the strings for the album and mixed it in wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen, the same place we did his first 2 records so here’s hoping this one will sell as well as they did. Officially you will have to wait until September to hear the finished product BUT there is a sneak
  • Symfunny

    Have you booked your tickets yet for Symfunny, an evening of music and laughter on June 4th at the iconic Royal Albert Hall? If the answer is a no, we have some new acts just been announced to tempt you further to part with your £25 for an extremely good cause, research into Parkinson’s Disease. New acts include the female comedy duo from the BBC, Watson and Oliver who will be using the full Symphony Orchestra in
  • Rehearsals afoot with Alfie Boe

    So the kids have been passed from pillar to post this week so that James and myself could spent the last few days in a place where the sun doesn’t shine. No, nothing like that… We are in a dimly lit studio in the middle of rehearsals for a new album with our old friend Alfie Boe. This is the 3rd (and dare I say it) best album we have made with him yet. Strictly speaking, we
  • BBC Radio 5 Live and Media

    So the whirlwind of interviews continues in order to promote Symfunny on June 4th at the RAH. Tonight James will be talking about the concert on BBC Radio 5 live with Stephen Nolan. Last week we both went on BBC breakfast and BBC South East and have given interviews to The Evening Standard and the Brighton Argus. Whilst discussing such a personal diagnosis in front of a load of people you don’t know is not necessarily
  • Symfunny, June 4th

    I haven’t blogged for a while but we have had a lot happening in our lives, as always. James has been diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease. Obviously this has been pretty devastating news for a guy with a young family. But, James has decided to try to do something positive with this news which is why we have announced in the press today that we are going to hold Symfunny, an evening of
  • Happy New Year

    Is it me or does the holiday period get longer each year? I’ve sent emails to people that have bounced back as they are ‘out of the office’ for nearly 3 weeks now. Personally I’d rather we adopted the Italian model and closed down the country in August when we could at least enjoy good weather. 3 weeks without working is fantastic (if you are lucky enough to get it), but to spend it
  • Wonderful World, Jack Topping Debut Album

    I’m sitting at my computer at 7 in the morning having left James to get the kids ready for school. I have the great excuse that I’m about to Skype Jack Topping before he sings live on BBC breakfast. Every TV show asks for a slightly longer, shorter, faster version of a song so they can fit it into their show so Jack has to remember which version he is singing, which can be tricky at
  • Save the Children TV Ad

    The Save the Children’s new Christmas TV Ad will make it’s debut with Jack Topping singing Tomorrow, tomorrow, if you see what I mean. Tomorrow, that’s Sunday, you will be able to see Jack singing Tomorrow on the Save the Children ad. It doesn’t get any less confusing the more I repeat it does it! We recorded it (the song Tomorrow) with Jack back in September so it’s been quite
  • The Great Enormo Visits Birmingham

    We were at Birmingham Symphony Hall at the end of half term for another performance of our guide to the orchestra, The Great Enormo. This time with the world famous CBSO, woohoo. What a fabulous hall they have. My daughter, who plays the part of Michael Rosen’s granddaughter was even impressed with the dressing room, she couldn’t believe there was a piano in it which I couldn’t get her off despite having to be
  • Fairfield Halls

    These days my time is filled with record producing and composing rather than singing but occasionally I do dust off a long dress not to mention a pair of ageing and rusty, but still serviceable, vocal chords.  They were put to use at Fairfield Halls last week for a Last Night of the Proms concert. For those of you who have not been to the venue before, BEWARE.  Strange forces are at work. Last time I did a
  • Classic Brit Awards 2013

    We are having great fun arranging some items for the Classic Brit Awards 2013 which are happening next week in the Royal Albert Hall. The God of the piano himself, also known as Lang Lang, will be playing one of our arrangements in a duet version with another artiste. We reckon we’ve put some tricky little bits and bobs for Lang Lang to get his fingers around. What am I saying? It’s all just a
  • Save the Children Christmas Campaign

    Back from a lovely holiday in Italy. We managed to get Arthur past security and onto the plane despite being covered in chicken pox. Once seated, however, his twin Seth proceeded to announce in a very loud voice to the entire plane that his brother had chicken pox and had lots and lots and lots of spots everywhere. I shushed and ignored him through gritted teeth which only meant that he raised his voice louder as he pointed in turn
  • Faber Music

    In a miserable week where we have daubed our front door with a red cross and sleep has become a distant memory of a time when we had a life, a single ray of light and excitement managed to break through the fog of doom and gloom. Yes, even twins with chicken pox couldn’t ruin this one, we signed a new publishing deal with Faber Music. Hurrah. Home of serious British composing giants Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten
  • Album Finished

    We are into the last week of recording for Jack Topping’s album. Life is much easier now he has broken up from school, and luckily as he is only 11 himself,  he is very understanding when we have to rush away from the studio for an hour to watch our daughter perform in her end of year play. We are sadly having to avoid any badminton in our breaks as an attack of hayfever ends any recording
  • More Recording

    Last week saw the premiere of the chamber version of The Great Enormo at the Spitalfields Festival. Much smaller  and more informal than a big concert hall, it enabled all the children in the audience to get up close and personal with the instruments before the show started, some youngsters even had a go at conducting with a baton. Michael Rosen at one point asked the audience who the people playing the instruments were. Most kids shouted out, &ldquo
  • Horse Impressions and Choirboys

    We were delighted to see so many families enjoying The Great Enormo in Brighton at the beginning of May. We were particularly taken by the number of adult’s fantastic horse impressions on the night. Who’d have thought? Next performance at Spitalfields Festival on June 15th before we take it up to Birmingham Symphony Hall in October half term. We are now recording a new signing by Decca. An 11 year old from Liverpool. He might
  • We’ve finished!

    Hallelujah, we’ve finished. The Great Enormo has a musical score. There is still the arduous task of bowing, dynamics and articulation to be added but now we can crack on with the rehearsing the piece. Both sets of Grandparents are bringing the twins, I’ve sat them right at the back of the stalls, near the door, incase of emergencies. If any of you are coming you’ll soon spot them when they shout out &ldquo
  • Finishing The Great Enormo and Breakfast

    I’ve had a busy couple of weekends, the first in York Minster with the lovely St Matthew Passion and the second in Hereford Cathedral with Mozart and his Great Mass. I stayed in very nice B&Bs  both times which tend to be much cheaper and have better breakfasts than the buffets of cold scrambled eggs some hotels serve). What I’ve noticed in my travels as a visiting concert soloist is the growing trend
  • Charity Single for Prostate Cancer

    You think it’s cold here? Stop complaining, we’ve just got back from our talent-hunting trip to Copenhagen. Now, that’s a cold place. Now we are back to the centrally heated and 24 hour artificial light of the studio.  We are producing a charity single with The Royal Mail Choir for prostate cancer. You may have seen the choir on the television last year with Gareth Malone; a lovely bunch of normal people
  • Spitalfields Festival

    I’m delighted to announce another performance of The Great Enormo in the Spitalfields Festival on June 15th. It is FREE. Yes, I know that is amazing in this climate. Something that is made possible by the wonderful City of London where music is so clearly valued and supported. Speaking of music being valued, how delighted was I to see the Ebacc, with it’s gaping ommission of the arts, has been scrapped. Mind you, how much time
  • Brighton Festival Artistic Director…

    Brighton Festival announced just before Christmas that Michael Rosen is their Artistic Director for 2013. This was great news for us as our new guide to the orchestra for families, The Great Enormo, which we’ve written with Michael will hopefully get extra publicity. When I say ‘written’ I have to admit to using the word loosely. It will most definitely be ‘written’ in the past tense at some point in the future but at
  • Quartet in Cinemas Now!

    Very quick post to suggest the perfect way of avoiding sitting at home with all the leftover chocolates… a trip to the cinema. The film, Quartet which James and I worked on as Music Producers is in the cinemas now. It’s Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut, stars a plethora of titled English actors and features some of your favourite bits of classical music all in a couple of hours. What more could you want