A classical take on a traditional classic — all for charity
Two classical musicians in St. John's have recorded a new version of a classic Newfoundland song.
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have picked up projects like painting or knitting — but for Ofra Harnoy and Mike Herriott, it was recording an album.
Let Me Fish Off Cape St. Mary's is one of the songs on the album and has been in the works since November, when Herriott wrote the arrangement for a concert with the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra.
"When it came time to include this piece on the album that's coming out in September, I thought I would rearrange it for cellos and brass and a little bit of percussion," he said.
"So we did all the cello parts here in the studio and we did all the brass parts here in the studio, one at a time."
I've always felt that music is kind of the international language. And this is such a heartfelt song.- Ofra Harnoy
Harnoy and Herriott have been performing together for years, and have worked on many projects. Their album features a collection of arrangements of traditional Newfoundland music.
Because they're unable to meet and perform with other artists due to the pandemic, Harnoy and Herriott recorded the song using multi-tracking. That involves artists playing multiple instruments and combining the recordings to make a single arrangement.
"We loved the way it sounded, and this really lends itself so beautifully to that," Harnoy told CBC Radio's Weekend AM. "As it turns out with what's going on now, the two of us are our own orchestra and our own quartet."
Harnoy played 11 different parts for the album, while Herriott played 17 different instruments, ranging from the trumpet to the triangle. Herriott said recording the cellos took a couple of days, and the brass section took about three days.
I think because of the universal appeal of the piece, we felt that this would be something that would draw people's attention.- Mike Herriott
After arranging Let Me Fish Off Cape St. Mary's, the duo posted a video of Harnoy playing a special preview of the song on YouTube with the hopes of raising awareness of the Gathering Place, a community health-care centre providing food, clothes and medical and dental services in St. John's.
"There's more on their plates right now," Herriott said.
"We decided that we wanted to see what we could do to use what we have, and what we have created, to raise awareness and help see if we can help raise some more funds to make these people's lives a little easier."
Harnoy and Herriott decided to use Let Me Fish Off Cape St. Mary's as a way to promote the Gathering Place because of the song's popularity in Newfoundland — and around the world.
"I've always felt that music is kind of the international language," Harnoy said. "And this is such a heartfelt song."
"I think because of the universal appeal of the piece, we felt that this would be something that would draw people's attention," Herriott added.
"Everything that can attract people to the video, hopefully that will in turn attract them toward what we're trying to raise awareness for here."
With files from Heather Barrett and Weekend AM