Recording Witchfinder at Walpole Old Chapel

After our initial residency in chilly December 2020, it was wonderful to spend another 4 days at Walpole Old Chapel in Suffolk in the glorious July sunshine.

The Cohere Arts team at Walpole Old Chapel

This time the goal of our residency was to make an audio recording of Matthew Hopkins-inspired music theatre piece Witchfinder within the wonderful acoustics of the chapel. Our first day was spent rehearsing with our new team member, Sandeep Gurrapadi, who would be performing the role Matthew Hopkins, Witchfinder General, for the recording.

Whilst rehearsing was in progress, our sound engineer Richie Bingham filled the chapel with an array of sound recording equipment and set about finding the optimum set-up by which to best capture the stunning vocal and instrumental talents of the Cohere team.

Nicola Wydenbach and co rehearsing the haunting ‘Come Swim With Me’

Under the guidance of expert audio engineer Richie we captured several recordings of aspects of the show, as well as two full run throughs. Microphones were placed near individual performers as well as overhead to capture ambient sound. Due to the building’s architecture the acoustics were as unforgiving as they are beautiful, meaning the team was under pressure to give their best performances.

On the final day of the residency we were joined by our community chorus, who filled the galleries and stalls of the chapel to help us record chorus sections of songs, sound effects, and various crowd noises such as screams, whoops, cries of ‘hang her!’ and gentle sobbing.

Cohere Arts and community chorus recording The Village Fair from Witchfinder

In total, 50 people filled Walpole Old Chapel on our final day of recording, a culmination of months of hard work, generosity and commitment during some very challenging times. It’s safe to say we had a blast.

“What an amazing experience for my children and me! I don’t know who is more excited about today’s experience – I can’t thank you enough.”

Head teacher, Holton St Peter Primary School

“Children and adults, professionals and amateurs came together to tell a story which although old, has enormous resonance for everyone. The dangers of flawed beliefs and populist ideologies are around us as they were in the time of Matthew Hopkins. We shared some beautiful music and were part of something creative and bigger than all of us. I felt very honoured to be there.”

Community chorus member

“It was great fun and a very memorable experience.”

Musician

“One of the best days ever.”

Community chorus member