Hopeful Progress is a collection of positive broad themed symphonic tracks with choir that were recorded in Studio 1, Abbey Road with an orchestra (fixed by Isobel Griffiths) and choir (conducted by Ben Parry) of London’s finest session musicians and has been released by Audio Network. It’s also available as commercial release on Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music.
The starting point for the project was a consideration of how to write tracks where the melody and harmonies move relatively slowly (to provide an uplifting at times anthemic feel) yet still retain a sense of pace through the rhythmic components. Voyage Of Destiny which I wrote back in 2008 and has been used to promote the World Tennis Tour (atp) and featured in a WWF Snow Leopard TV Commercial campaign is probably the nearest I had come previously to this approach and it was interesting to base a whole album around this concept and explore it in different tracks with different moods and tempi.
In All the World, the use of a full rhythmic percussion track (largely played by Paul Clarvis) both propels the music forward and gives it a ‘world music’ feel, allowing the full power of the orchestra and chorus to be focused on the broad themed melodic elements. In Heroic Journey, the track is powered by a fast, rhythmic figure in the strings which takes the mood from a dark brooding beginning and builds it towards a triumphant conclusion as more and more of the rest of the orchestral forces are channelled on the uplifting melody. In Fragile Wonder, the rhythmic component is much gentler as is the mood, and there is a focus on changing orchestral colours and texture as the broad theme unfolds.
Getting a balance on these orchestral elements was a fascinating challenge. As always with music, emphasising one aspect necessarily reduces the impact of another and so there are fine judgements to be made to achieve something that works in all respects and brings out a strong overarching mood to each track. You can judge for yourselves whether I’ve managed to do it successfully here.