On tour with the Leeds Phil

For many years my wife Margaret sang with the Leeds Philharmonic Chorus, AKA the Leeds Phil, and on two occasions I went with her on exchange tours. The first trip, to Estonia, Finland and Latvia, inspired me to take my video camcorder with me next time to record a trip to Bratislava, Gyor, Vienna and Budapest, on the understanding that, as well as acting as a roadie, I would produce a DVD for members, which I did. Here’s the final film:

In reality the roadie idea was a convenient fiction. Choir members were all quite used to touring, and of course no instruments were involved, so really partners and friends were invited along to enjoy the ride and to boost audiences if necessary. In the event it was never necessary, so I had plenty of opportunity to record the video. However, someone had forgotten to arrange the necessary permissions for filming the performances so I had little choice but to concentrate on filming sequences reflecting life on the road, make covert audio recordings of the performances then to edit the best of both together. I console myself even now with the thought that choral music is essentially better heard than seen.

When I left the BBC in 1983 I had sworn a silent oath never again to film on location, but a decade or so later this little vanity project was oddly liberating because I could my own shooting and editing; all I had to lose was my pride. Obviously I could not achieve the quality of camerawork or post production that experienced specialists can, (and I really should have taken my tripod,) but even after all this time I am happy for this film to be made available to a wider audience. I hope those who appear in it agree.


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