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Exclusive: My cello day in studio with Coldplay

Cellist David Cohen spent today working in a rock session. Tonight, he’s off to Spain to play Bach and Elgar. We asked him for an account of … just another Monday in a London musician’s life.

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My day with Coldplay began in the normal way, that is, not knowing what or for whom I was going to record. The one thing I did know was that it was going to be non-classical sessions with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, whom I often guest lead. The last time, it was a memorable tour with Nigel Kennedy as a soloist and I ended up performing an impromptu virtuoso duet as an encore with him at the Royal Festival Hall. He can be very persuasive… anyway, a bit crazy but a lot of fun! So upon arrival this morning, what a lovely surprise to open my stand folder and recognise such famous tunes such as Trouble, Paradise, The Scientist etc… The day suddenly looked sunnier! I may be a professional solo classical musician but I thoroughly enjoy Coldplay’s music. I even have a few of their records.
There are many different types of recording sessions. Non-classical sessions are basically sound tracks recorded for Pop/Rock music, often reinforced with classical-type instruments such as strings. This time though, it’s more than just a few strings, there are about 80-90 musicians in the studio- a full symphony orchestra.
In the cramped, cold Angel studios, I was amazed that a full symphony orchestra the size of the RPO managed to fit into that space. The orchestra sounds fantastic! This is sort of an English orchestra phenomenon – players put their own comforts secondary to the ultimate goal of performing and delivering the goods as quickly as possible. I have experienced this kind of drive with English orchestral players since I came to live in London in my teens and it has been an incredibly valuable experience. This does not really happen to such an extent in other countries, but this is also why English orchestral players distinguish themselves and why so much recorded music, whether it be for film scores or CDs land in this great capital!
In my opinion, because of the sheer size of the ensemble, a recording of this magnitude would be better suited to Abbey Road Studio One, but lovely Angel studios does manage well, thanks to technology and excellent sound engineers.
Our conductor/arranger Chris Egan delivers a most effective and driven session and, along with the musicians, everyone seems to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. Even though I am first and foremost a soloist/chamber musician/teacher, I am often asked to record these kind of sessions, especially like today if there are loads of virtuosic cello solos. I also often record film sessions. I have recorded tracks for movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Halo, the Ides of March, Emma to name a few of the most exciting.
The last time I recorded with a famous pop artist was with Sir Paul McCartney. Unlike Sir Paul who was present from the very first minute of the recording until the last, Coldplay sadly for us did not show up… My day was more spent with Coldplay’s music than the artist himself, but today’s session will be remembered for a long time for its memorable tunes.
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I found out today that Coldplay is teaming up with Oxfam to take part in a global music project to campaign against one of the world’s greatest human injustices: land grabs. A unique Coldplay music video is being created to help Oxfam campaign to end the trauma inflicted on thousands of families by governments, banks or private investors buying huge plots of land for profit, forcing thousands of families off the the land they rely on to grow food, feed their families, and out of the place they call home. It’s wonderful that Coldplay is making a difference to the world with their success.
Today has truly been a fun experience. I love pop/rock music and listen to it quite a bit at home or while driving. It was great to be a part of these mainstream tunes which so many of us know and love. Thanks Coldplay, the RPO and of course Chris Egan!

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Comments

  1. This is a wonderful read! Thank you, David! I also love Coldplay. Did I miss what project the recording will be used for?

  2. Interesting – many thanks.

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