Synergy represented by

Left to right: Amanda Morrison, Amy Haworth, Heather Cairncross, Micaela Haslam

“Our first day in New York was absolutely lovely – cold, dry and sunny – so Will and I headed straight for Central Park early in the morning. It looked like a film set; perfectly manicured in a wild sort of way; lots of beautiful people running, cycling and roller-blading; and every type of dog you can imagine being taken for walkies; no cars, no litter, and apparently no dog poo anywhere – just like London – not!

Later the same morning, we headed up to the “Top of the Rock” at the Rockefeller Center for the best view in the city, and to see where we’d been. Central Park looks like a forest from above, but is surprisingly open and spacious from within. It really is a vast, and very beautiful, space.

Central Park from Top of the Rock

From the other side, I wasn’t sure which was more impressive, the view of the Empire State Building or this fabulous old view finder. Looking down the Hudson it was difficult not to think about the plane that landed on that very stretch of water just a few weeks ago. Captain Sullenberger is now a national hero. I wonder what he’s doing now – anything he likes, I imagine!

Alien on the Rock!

Hard to believe then that only 2 days later, Manhattan looked like this.

The temperature plummeted to -11C and we had 8 inches of snow. The Americans are much better equipped than us for this kind of weather, and daily life seemed to carry on pretty well as normal. People still went to work, traffic was flowing and the underground seemed fine. The only problem for us was that, once the snow started to melt, there were huge puddles at the edge of the “sidewalks” so the only thing for it was to buy some wellies. I actually wanted to buy some good sturdy DM-type boots, but the shops were full of spring clothes and flip-flops. Hilarious, considering what was going on outside.

Alice Tully Hall

Anyway, we were in NYC for a concert to celebrate the re-opening of the refurbished Alice Tully Hall at the Lincoln Center with Steve Reich & Musicians. The new exterior of the building was very impressive, and the 1,100 seater auditorium looked fabulous too. We were slightly concerned at first to see so much wood and to hear about the “great acoustic” – usually a disaster for amplified sound. Fortunately the new hall has all the latest acoustic mod-cons. There is a new stage ceiling over the musicians that can be tuned to enhance onstage hearing and projection of sound to the audience, acoustic banners that drop from the ceiling for amplified sound, and speaker systems behind the walls that can support top-quality film sound, jazz concerts, and indeed new music festivals.

That said, Steve’s players do like a lot of level in their foldback speakers, and it kept feeding back in rehearsal. The low ‘cello notes in particular were causing problems. We could hear the frequencies building up to the point when you didn’t know whether to yell at the sound engineer or run for cover! Still, it was just great to see Steve’s merry men (and women) again. They don’t play together so much these days, and are drafted in from all corners of the US & Canada, but they are still legends – especially the “originals” like Jim Preiss, Russ Hartenburger and Bob Becker. It’s a real honour to work with them.

There were quite a few familiar faces at the drinks reception after the concert, and we were especially pleased to see Beryl Korot (Steve’s wife). I hadn’t seen her for absolutely ages and she was looking as gorgeous as ever. Apart from being a huge support to Steve, she is a very fine video artist and her latest project (about Florence Nightingale) sounds fascinating. Beryl talks about her work with such enthusiasm and passion, it really makes you want to see it.

Dreamhouse team – Left to right: Micaela Haslam, Heather Cairncross, Rob Kearley, Steve Mackey, Mike Dore

Sadly we couldn’t join the band for late-night cocktails, as Heather and I had to be up early the following morning to start recording in East Harlem. Amy and Mandy flew home as Rob Kearley and Mike Dore flew in, and we set to work recording the vocals for Steve Mackey’s Dreamhouse. Steve had already recorded the orchestra and guitars so we were relatively lucky in having most of the piece already in place. Steve conducted our sessions (extremely well, I have to say) and though we did have 2 long days of hard work, there was plenty of merriment thrown in. Rob Kearley finally had to leave the room for Heather’s beautiful solo which contains the line “see the pool”. Unfortunately the word “pool” is set on a long note, so all you get for a while is “see the poo” – hours of fun!!

Anyway, once Rinde Eckert puts the icing on the cake with his amazingly athletic lead vocals, Dreamhouse should be ready for release. Watch this space for a date….”


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