Father and son musicians use lockdown to make ambitious recording

Andy and Stefan.

A Richmond cellist and his musical son have used the past few months of isolation to record a piece of music usually performed by 12 individual cellists.

In March of this year – like thousands of other freelance musicians around the country – classical celllist Andy Wardale found himself unable to perform due to Covid restrictions, with no indication as to when the performing arts industries would be able to open up again

Overnight, he lost or had postponed virtually all of his scheduled performances for the foreseeable future.

Determined to keep motivated and artistically challenged, Andy and his 18-year-old son Stefan embarked on a series of recordings that would showcase their work as a performing duo called Urban Birdsong

This culminated in the recording of a piece of music that normally requires 12 cellists, but with Andy playing each of the individual parts.

“Stefan and I were already used to playing together as Urban Birdsong so instead of our usual appearances at weddings, events and festivals, we knuckled down in the living room and worked on a number of duo pieces that would demonstrate our extensive range and repertoire,” said Andy

“I would play the piano, guitar and provide vocals and Dad would play the cello. I would then mix and master everything into MP3 format to upload onto our new website.

“We played everything from Ed Sheeran and the Arctic Monkeys to Vivaldi and original compositions of my own, ” added Stefan, who has just completed his A-levels in music, history and popular cusic at Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College in Darlington.

As the summer drew to an end, Stefan prepared to leave the family home in Richmond to take up a place at the Leeds Conservatoire to study for a degree in popular music.

The pair decided to have one last push in their last couple of days together and record Hymnus for 12 Cellos by Julian Klengel.

“This is one of my favourite pieces and one that I have performed many times in the past, but always in the company of 11 other cellists,” said Andy.

“It seemed like the obvious choice and a virtual hug if you like, for my cello friends whom I hadn’t seen for so long.

“We recorded solidly for two days in an intense combination of recording and mixing to achieve the best sound possible.

“We’re both happy with the result considering the amount of time we had left to complete it.

“It was a privilege to have been able to share this unique experience with my son and it was a breath of positivity in these dark and uncertain, virus-dominated days.”

To listen to Hymnus, or any of the other music Andy and Stefan Wardale recorded this summer, visit their website here.