It Doesn’t Matter Two (lockdown version) by Libra and special guests

One of the beautifully creative things that this global pandemic has offered the world are the number of truly astonishing musical collaborations that simply would not have happened otherwise.

This is amongst my favourite. Masterminded by metal producer-songwriter Libra, he brings together nine artists to create this epic, orchestral-sounding version of the Depeche Mode song “It Doesn’t Matter Two”.

Featured (in order) are Shaun MacGowan (My Dying Bride) on violin, Eicca Toppinen (Apocalyptica) on cello, Libra on vocals and drums, vocalist Anneke Van Giersbergen (Devin Townsend, Vuur, The Gathering), Aaron Aedy (Paradise Lost) on guitar, Caleb Bingham (Five Finger Death Punch, Athanasia), Don Aires Pereira (Moonspell) on bass guitar, Kenny Hickey (Type O Negative, Silvertomb) on guitar, Aaron Stainthorpe (My Dying Bride) on vocals, and Ruud Jolie (Within Temptation, For All We Know) on guitar.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if all these lockdown collaborations could be released as a musical record for 2020 and 2021. Hmmm… there’s an idea. I should create my own compilation album of my favourite lockdown collaborations.

NYCGB Alumni Christmas song

This has been the year for lockdown choirs and following the success of the National Youth Choir alumni’s Shenandoah project in June, we geared up in the autumn to produce something in time for Christmas.

Arranged by Louise Clare Marshall (whom many will have watched bringing in the new year last night on Jools Holland’s Annual Hootenanny), we held sectional rehearsals on Zoom in early November and videos were submitted during the final week of November, leaving about one month for our team of technicians to edit and mix the audio and video.

The video launched on Christmas Eve and, remarkably, we were featured at the end of the BBC News broadcasts that evening!

I’m so proud of what we have achieved. It’s not the same as standing in the same space and making music together but I’ll take it over nothing.

Thank you to all who were involved. To Louise, the section leaders, everyone who got involved, our wonderful team of audio and video engineers, and the rest of the NYCGB Alumni Champions Committee—some of my dearest friends in all the world.

Enjoy! And see if you can spot me on the video.

Shenandoah by NYCGB Alumni lockdown virtual choir

Over the last two months, I have been involved in a project with the NYCGB Alumni to record one of our favourite pieces, the American folk song “Shenandoah” arranged by James Erb.

We asked 404 (or so) singers to video their part of the piece, singing along to a backing track created by the tremendous Will Dawes. Then we had a technical team piece it all together, Ben worked on the audio, Tom on the video.

We thought we started this because we wanted to have some fun. We thought that we could possibly use it as a fundraiser or to encourage more people to take up singing but then we realised:

• We did it because we love singing.
• We did it because we love our alumni family.
• We did it because we love this piece of music.

I hope you love it too.

Feel free to share it far and wide.