Chip Davis in Chicago

On Thursday, 2008 March 13, Chip Davis and his crew set up their equipment at St. Michael’s Church, in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood, for a recording session with some of the brass and percussion players of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the eighty-voice Chicago Symphony Choir. Ed. Floden was in attendance (See "Smells Like American Spirit".)

St. Michael's Church, altar

The interior of St. Michael’s Church. The church was badly damaged during the Great Chicago Fire of 1871: only its northern and western walls remained standing. It was rebuilt in 1872.

Setting up

Setting up for the orchestra. The brass section would stand in the sacristy (that’s the area in which the altar resides), while the percussion was located in front of the first row of pews.

The 6000 dollar microphone

A $6000 microphone. It was packed in its own foam-lined, wooden case.

Chip and metronome

"It’s Chip Davis and his electronic metronome," he said, tickingly.

Crew snacks

Crew snacks: pretzel sticks and tangerines. Out of the shot are a case of bottled water and a cooler of soda. Chip didn’t eat any pretzel sticks; "too much carbohydrates" was his reason.

Waiting for the musicians

Waiting for the orchestra to arrive.

Tuning up

The brass section tunes up, while the percussionists bang along.

At this point, the orchestra, conducted by Chip Davis, worked through three takes of “Fanfare For The Common Man”. The first take was discarded when extraneous noise was heard: the steam pipes near the back of the church were clanking as they expanded.

Say cheese

The orchestra’s group photo with bandleader Chip.

Walk this way

Walk this way: the Chicago Symphony Choir entered the church proper through the chapel to the left of the altar.

Dan interviews Chip

Dan Wieberg interviews Chip Davis about American Spirit. The door to the chapel can be seen behind the sound man with the boom microphone.

Choir practice

The choir practices before a take. The video camera in the upper left of the picture is recording American Gramaphone’s archive of the entire session.

Almost ready

The choir gathers in the sacristy, just before performing “Home On The Range”.

Say cheese 2

The choir gets their picture with Chip.

You may have noticed that there are no pictures of the CSO members actually performing. That’s because noises that you would probably dismiss as inconsequential, such as the click of a camera shutter, were easily picked up by the sensitive microphones located around the interior of the church. So during the actual recording, I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures. The music, and singing, compensated for the lack of a visual record.