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Recording the Tour Choir

Since its genesis, the ILC Tour Choir has always recorded its songs. Every few years it releases an album in order to make those songs available to a broader audience. In this way, people can enjoy the edification of their faith through the beauteous hymns and psalms. Many are unaware, however, of exactly what goes into putting together a Tour Choir CD.

In recent years, recording sessions have taken place at St. John’s Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The linoleum floors and the hard plaster of the high ceilings make for optimal recording conditions. Each year two recording sessions, which are typically scheduled for the weekend following the return of the choir from its tour, take place.

Using two high-quality microphones and professional recording software, the choir sings the songs deemed by the director to be worthy of recording. As it would be incredibly difficult to sing through the entire concert mistake-free, each song is sung multiple times. Most songs that appear on the newer CDs are actually a synthesis of many takes, the best portions of which are spliced together to make up the final product.

To produce a good recording, many things have to go right. There is very little room for error. The choir may be singing its finest, voices coming in and out in almost perfect synchronization and everyone singing on pitch, yet the whole take can be scrapped by the intrusive sound of a plane flying overhead or a car driving past. Most recently, the greatest trouble has come from the cathedral across the street, whose bells chime every fifteen minutes. Often, choir members are also trying to shake whatever illnesses found their way onto the tour bus during the previous week. Great patience is required.

I recently took over recording duties from Tom Caulton, who is the organist at Redemption of Lynnwood (see page 12), and who served for many years as the recording engineer for the Tour Choir. In my experience thus far, I have found the process daunting, but the results encouraging. The countless necessary details and obstacles generated by the recording process are enough to make one’s head spin, and keep one awake trying to remember that one important thing that was surely forgotten. It is comforting to bear in mind Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians, “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (10:31).

Despite any anxious feelings, and solely by the grace of God every year the choir records, and every few years another CD is compiled. It is a great comfort and encouragement for those involved with the recording process that all the effort put into making a CD works to the glory of God and to bring His peace into the homes of many believers. The Word of the Lord grows!

Drew Naumann is a junior at Immanuel Lutheran College.