'As always, it was sheer pleasure to observe Robin Hill's remarkable fluent technique: everything looks easy when he plays it.' Colin Cooper- Classical Guitar Magazine ----- 'Wonderful for their (Hill & Wiltschinsky) precision, touch and clarity of sound... refined virtuosity, the achievement of a long interpretive process.' Il Giornale D'Italia (Rome) ----- 'I loved your CD and thought your technique and performance were fabulous...' Rick Wakeman

Monday, February 22, 2010

Abbey Road Studios - The Right Decision

After completing this post I heard via LondonJazz that EMI had released a statement and that Abbey Road was not for sale after all.
Whilst I'm delighted at this news I felt that some of the points I made in the original post could actually apply to the world of classical music in general.
So I decided to run it anyway, with a little of the ire removed....

There has been so much written about Abbey Road Studios in the last week, and rightly so.
The fear of the famous studios being sold off by EMI has caused outrage from supporters.
Beatles fans are in a frenzy at the potential loss of their sacred meeting point.
But Abbey Road is so much more than The Beatles alone.
After opening in 1931 Sir Edward Elgar conducted the London Symphony Orchestra whilst recording his own works.
Many, many others have used the facilities including the British conductor Sir Malcolm Sargent, Yehudi Menuhin and Andres Segovia.
The studios are not only used for recording, but also for remastering and occasionally, as a rehearsal place for many orchestras (more of that in a minute...)

The argument that the digital revolution has allowed musicians to record from home doesn't stand up to close scrutiny.
Yes, many artists can, and do, record at home, but how many homes do you know that can accommodate the 90+ musicians that make up an orchestra?
And yes, you can use software programmes to simulate an orchestra. But whilst these are an excellent tool for the composer, and useful for generating interest, they can't replace the musicality and energy produced by real musicians.

Also, the independent sector need to consider the consequences of their disdain for record companies.
Classical musicians need record companies.
Anyone wanting to record a concerto requires an orchestra.
To record with that orchestra you need a large recording studio.
Both of these are expensive commodities and as we know for our own sorry situation last year, (London Symphony Orchestra at the ready, Abbey Road pencilled in, but the funding elusive) unless you are backed by a record company, funding is virtually impossible to get.
Most available funding won't be issued to an individual artist, so unless you can find private backing the situation is not good.

Whilst this digresses from the Abbey Road situation the two are connected.
Do we really want to find ourselves in the situation when the only orchestral recordings available are old ones?

Music is essential to every one's well being.
New compositions are essential to future generations.
Recording studios are essential to the whole process, and Abbey Road has the ability to draw in more musicians than practically any other studio around.

The argument that Abbey Road isn't busy enough also seems rather evasive.
Numerous film scores are recorded there every year and you often read, from twitter alone, the various orchestras that are frequenting the premises.

The men in suits behind this decision need to think very carefully.
Money is important but so is history and musical heritage....remember the Cavern Club demolished only to be rebuilt a few years' later..on the same street?

Maybe they need to look more closely at alternative options.
Instead of focusing purely on finances, they should use the power and inspirational features that Abbey Road has to offer to inject a new enthusiasm into an ailing world of classical music.
The best case scenario would be for Abbey Road to continue as a recording studio, maybe opening their doors to other functions as an alternative way to procure income.

Another option is the interest shown by the National Trust.
They could, potentially at least, keep the doors open as a museum.
Whilst this wouldn't be ideal, it would be better than losing the site completely.

Alternatively, there may be a private buyer.
In this case the world will be at their mercy.
They may decide to keep it as a studio, but they may also choose to alter it's function completely.
Heaven forbid that Abbey Road studios become apartments for a select few...

To return to Abbey Road being used as a rehearsal place for orchestras. Surely there is potential for more bookings this way.
I know from experience that Robin rehearsed there with the BBC Philharmonic in preparation for a, 'Proms in the Park' performance.
The sense of history was awe inspiring.
However, it didn't prevent Robin from breaking into Jimi Hendrix's 'Voodoo Child', complete with waa waa pedal. This caused mirth and encouragement form some sections of the orchestra and disapproving glances form others....

But this is the sort of incident that makes Abbey Road unique.
So many musicians have passed through their doors, each creating their own memories and contributing to its illustrious history.

Record companies should maybe consider the old Cree Indian saying, "Only when the last tree has died and the last river been polluted and the last fish caught will we realise we can't eat money."

The world should take note.
If Abbey Road goes, so will so much more.
What Abbey Road has achieved is irreplaceable.
If you feel strongly and wish your voice to be heard, now is the time to shout.
A good starting point would be to add your name to the 'Save Abbey Road Petition', here's the link.

And finally, to inspire you whilst you shout, and if you want to add an extra twist....

As I said at the start of this post, EMI have announced that they are not selling Abbey Road studios. I left these particular links in place as some of you may be interested in the comments and mood of the general public. Also, as a reminder to EMI of the strength of public opinion, in case they should change their mind.

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