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Forbidden City Chamber Orchestra at United Recording

The Forbidden City Chamber Orchestra recently completed their new album, "See Without Looking," at United Recording, featuring Chinese traditional instruments.

Brian Vibberts Helms Celebration of Chinese Traditional / Contemporary Classical

Pictured far left are engineer Brian Vibberts and producer/composer Daniel Walker. Instruments include the Guzheng on the floor left, a Yang Qin on the floor right, and handheld the Pipa, Erhu, Sheng, and Dizi. Microphones on the right foreground include a vintage RCA KU-3A and a Blue Bottle. Photo by David Goggin.

The Forbidden City Chamber Orchestra recently completed their new album, “See Without Looking,” at United Recording, featuring Chinese traditional instruments and music in context with contemporary classical compositions. Multiple Grammy-winning producer/engineer Brian Vibberts helmed the project alongside producer/composer Daniel Walker and orchestra conductor Liu Shun.

Vibberts explains, “This entire album was recorded in United’s Studio B, my favorite tracking room, without any overdubs. It was crucial that we had a great sounding space. I used a combination of small diaphragm condenser mics on the louder instruments, large diaphragm mics to capture sounds with more dynamic range, and omni tube mics and classic ribbon mics for the room sound.

The international music community and music lovers worldwide have praised the Forbidden City Chamber Orchestra as an embodiment of the unique grace and elegance of Chinese traditional music with the distinctive combination of rare classics and contemporary music. The orchestra is recognized as one of the most influential chamber groups performing and recording today.

Vibberts elaborates on specifics of the recording, “The musicians loved the rich history of United’s Studio B and the magnificent spaciousness. To capture the full sound of the room, I chose several microphones. Three Neumann M-50’s were set up in a Decca Tree formation and a pair of original RCA KU-3A mics added warmth to the recording. I positioned a Blue Bottle large-diaphragm dual-backplate omni capsule mic in the center of the group.”

Other microphones employed for the recording, included the Blue Cactus and Neumann U67 on the Pipa, Schoeps MK4’s and a Blue Kiwi mic on the Yang Qin, Blue Hummingbird mics in an ORTF stereo pair for the Guzheng, Neumann U67’s on the Erhu and Zhonghu, AKG C-12A’s to capture the full sound of the San Xian and Da Ruan, and Sennheiser MKH-40’s on the Sheng and Di Zi.

Contemporary American classical composer Daniel Walker’s music has been heard throughout the world on the concert stage, in film and on television. Among his many concert works, Walker’s full-length ballet, Marco Polo: The Last Mission, was commissioned by the Shanghai Ballet Company and premiered as part of the opening of China’s World Expo in 2010. Walker holds a Ph.D from UCLA and teaches composition and film scoring at Cornel School of Contemporary Music in Los Angeles, where he has served as Dean of the Music Department since March 2012.

“See Without Looking” is inspired by the ancient philosophy of the Tao Teh Ching, the fundamental Chinese classic text that exemplifies peaceful strength and simplicity and has influenced Chinese culture through the ages. Each of the five movements focuses on a different aspect of the Tao Teh Ching, from the birth of all creation to the way humanity fits within it. Countless composers, musicians, artists, and poets have used the Tao Teh Ching as a source of creativity. Its influence is felt worldwide, and it is among the most translated works in world literature.

The Forbidden City Chamber Orchestra’s sixth album, “See Without Looking” will release on July 17 on the Harvester Music label.

About United Recording
United Recording was founded in 1957 by the legendary recording engineer and electronics inventor Bill Putnam with the backing of Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. The studios were acquired and renamed Ocean Way Recording in 1977, and after acquisition in 2013 by Hudson Pacific Properties, re-launched under the original name in 2014. United Recording, one of the world’s most recognized music recording studios, with more awards than any other recording enterprise, is responsible for record sales of more than one billion units.
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