by John Stainer
Examples of desired information:
This recording is a creatively different variation from Stainer's score. Namely, it substitutes use of 2 womens choirs to perform most of the numerous recitatives and arias. Thus, this recording of the 1959 AHS choirs' performance contains a wonderfully more choral sound.
Stainer was mindful this score was intended for performances during Holy Week (week before Easter) by then existing choirs in Church of England parishes. Their members were dominantly untrained, volunteer choir members. Therefore, Stainer simplified the load on the choirs by following the model of J.S.Bach's St. Matthew's Passion, of having a considerable portion of the performance carried by a limited number of soloists.
In 1959, Mr. Kunkle have the luxuary of having 3 choirs:
He used the mixed choir to sing the numbers Stainer scored for 4-part choir harmony, i.e., the choruses that would normally be sung by the church volunteer choir. He then used the 2 women's choirs to sing most of the arias and recitatives, normally sung by soloists.
That created a truly expanded choral presentation that is far more choral in nature than is scored by Stainer.
However, to break up the otherwise all choral presentation, Mr. Kunkle included a limited number of short solos, performed by selected students from the mixed choir. In those limited solos, Mr. Kunkle used 2 women to split the tenor solo within the chorus number, "Fling Wide the Gates".
The student soloists' are named on the record, clearly in order of their appearance. That enabled proper attribution of their names to their respective numbers in the playlist and lyrics pages of this website where each appears.
The performances use Stainer's organ only accompaniment. In this case the organ was the electronic Hammond organ, which in 1959 AHS was on the audience right, front of the school's auditorium.
Because the amateur recordings were made with a monaural, consumer quality tape recorder and mic from the late 1950's era, high-fidelity overtones were not captured. The single track, monaural, 1/4 inch tape recorder (without any tape noise reduction capability), had one consumer quality microphone. The operating tape speed was the then popular slow consumer 7.5 inches per second (IPS). (That is in sharp contrast to the tape speed used commercially for analogue recordings, which is almost four times, at 30 IPS.)
Note. Consumer tape recorders (reel-to-reel) were not common in 1959 and still relatively expensive. Ampex was the most popular brand. True blossoming of multiple brands of reel-to-reel tape recorders would occur in the later 1960's. The cassette tape was also introduced in the mid-60's and had largely replaced reel-to-reel by the mid-1970's, but with lower fidelity.
Note. Stereo LP records only became generally commercially available the year before this recording in March of 1958.
Tape noise reduction was introduced on the commercial side as Dolby A in 1965 for commercial studios, and updated for commercial studios with Dolby SR in 1986. (Dolby SR is still used for those doing analogue recording.)
Tape noise reduction on the consumer side was first introduced as Dolby B, in 1968, followed by Dolby C in 1980.
That means the consumer grade tape recorder system used by Annapolis High School in 1959 had a high level of tape noise. The slow tape speed, compounded by the limited sensitivity/frequency response of the microphone means the higher frequencies that fill out a Hi-Fi's sound, were not captured.
(More recent higher end stereo consumer tape recorders still used 1/4 inch tape, but larger tape reels and often operate at 15 IPS. Commercial studios doing analogue recording still more commonly use 30 IPS with Dolby SR tape noise reduction.)
The choirs were on risers on the stage in front of the auditorium, and the microphone and recorder were placed in the back of the auditorium up in the balcony next to the lighting booth. Thus, the microphone was a Long distance from the performers, which caused the recording to also contain:
Neither Mr. Kunkle, nor others involved in creating the tape recordings of The Crucifixion, or later editing together the "best-of" master from the 2 recordings, had any knowledge about the complicated technical processes required for making a quality recording with the limited equipment available.
More than 60 years after the original historic, private limited edition, vintage monaural LP record was pressed, the beginning of 2023 the score became Public Domain. Thus, TortoiseClimbing Audio™ became permitted to provide free downloads of a digital audio file mastered and restored from this recording.
Shortly before The Crucifixion score was to become public domain the beginning of 2023, we put completion of the Hymns and Songs for Living project on temporary hold so we could turn our attention to:
Robert F. Kunkle, Choral Director Annapolis High School (AHS), in Spring 1959, creatively utilized his 3 choirs: mixed choir and 2 women's choirs, plus student soloists from the choirs, to mount 2 performances of The Crucifixion by composer John Stainer. Members of the 3 choirs were from the graduating classes of 1959, 1960 and 1961.
For a history about The Crucifixion see History of The Crucifixion.
Somehow Mr. Kunkle obtained what by 1959 standards was a nice consumer quality monaural tape recorder and single microphone. (Neither were commercial studio grade.) They were used to record 2 performances of The Crucifixion. The "best of" from those 2 performances were edited together and pressed as a limited release, private monaural record.
Mr. Kunkle graduated from The Eastman School of Music and attended the Dusquesne University Music Appreciation - Chorus Orchestra. In addition to being the director of the choral program at AHS in 1959, he also taught music theory at AHS and was organist/choirmaster for at least one church in Annapolis.
The choirs gave 2 performances. One was for students during the day, and the other in the evening for family and friends in the community. After recording the performances, the idea of having a limited, private record made became known to students involved. So, no professionally knowledgeable persons about the techniques of the recordmaking processes in the 1959 era of recordings were consulted upfront for planning management of taping the performances.
(For the 1959 performances, there was No safe place to put the microphone closer to the performers. Doing so would have placed both the tape recorder and microphone in a isle on the main floor with a power cord running to it. An alternative would have been to place the recorder at the foot of the stage with the mic on a tall stand right in front of the stage. However, no such tall mic stand equipment was available to the school, nor did anyone likely know to inquire about a possible loan.)
Recordings of such performances now days would prefer to use multiple microphones, and place them closer to the performers. (They would also probably prefer to record digitally, which would enable as many microphone inputs as needed to accomodate on separate tracks the different sections of the choirs, soloists and organ.)
Live recording using multiple microphones placed near the performers get both stronger signals from the different performers, and minimize capture of audience noises and auditorium reverberations. Each of the multipe microphone signals are recorded on separate tracks, which allows mixing a final, balanced sound of the performers. (None of that was available to AHS in 1959 for making this vintage recording.)
It is worth reflecting on the miracle of what was accomplished:
After recordings from the 2 performances were made, what was then known about industy practice was to edit/splice together the best-of-performances. That was carried out with then existing technology, which was razor blade and splicing. That meant the resulting spliced together master tape of best-of-performances was louder and softer at each of the edit/splices throughout the recording, depending on which performance part was spliced in as the best.
The AHS student editor who created the "best-of" tape became aware of the volume level differences and prepared a detailed set of instructions with exact timings where the recording volume levels needed to be adjusted to equalize them.
Note. During conversion of the record to digital, the audio engineer remarked he heard changes in the volumes during play. Thus, it appears the record company made volume changes on the fly, perhaps based on the notes provided. But, those on the fly edits did not solve the multiple underlying volume change problems, and likely contributed some of its own problems.
The record company that pressed the record (Century Record Co) was only founded the year before in 1958, the year before they pressed the record of the 1959 AHS recording. They focused on the music education market.
Mastering services were a very rare thing at that time, and a search of the internet implies that Century Record Co did not provide any such mastering services. (Even if they had been available, such services likely would not have been in the School's choral budget.) Even more than the very prominent audience noises, the result of those volume changes throughout the 1959 record produced an uncomfortable listening experience.
The lesson learned looking back from many years later having since worked with recordings, is that much of what can now readily be accomplished via digital mastering and some restoration techniques for recorded materials were then VERY difficult to impossible, and were not widely practiced. The technology in 1959 required all recording conditions up front had to be made as identical as possible when making alternative recordings to enable patching together. That was then the process required for making sure different takes when spliced together sounded like a coherent whole, without any mastering.
Under copyright laws (including U.S., Britain and France), copyright exists for 70 years after the death of the last surviving person associated with creating the work.
Thus, 2023 begins the 71st year since William Simpson the younger died. Therefore, as of January 2023, the score for The Crucifixion entered the Public Domain.
That means there is no longer a requirement for royalty payments for providing copies of this recording of The Crucifixion, making it practical to provide free digital audio file downloads, or "at cost" CDs.
The record was digitized the end of Decenber, 2022. During January 2023 TortoiseClimbing Audio™ mastered and restored the recording. Among other things, that process:
-- End of Accordian Window on Details of Mastering and Restoration --
Thus, subject to:
for the first time since the 1959 private recording was produced of the performances in spring 1959, this digitally mastered and restored version of this vintage, historic record from the 1959 performances achieves even better listenability than originally contained on the 1959 record of the choirs' performances.
In 1959 AHS was located in the building at 801 Chase Street, in what is now known as Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. (Access was from West Street to Amos Garrett to Constitution, to the front of the school on Chase.)
That the old high school building is preserved is a testament to those in Annapolis who came together to preserve the old AHS building. It is open to the public to browse its art gallaries. Their website is MarylandHall.org.
Maryland Hall has 4 resident companies, one of which is the Annapolis Chorale. (See The Resident Companies of Maryland Hall.) The Chorale's contact form cites room 202. (I wonder if that is the same large room on the 2nd floor where Mr. Kunkle's choruses practiced?)
Maryland Hall can be contacted at:
Annapolis Chorale can be contacted at:
The processes providing capabilities to download the digital audio file of the 1959 AHS The Crucifixion are operational. They provide means for Free downloads of the mastered and restored file. The file is available for free download both from this TortoiseClimbing™ website, and from TortoiseClimbing™'s online store at Bandcamp.
The Dropdown SubMenu top left, provides a link to the webpage on this website where the download process of 3 steps is available for you to download your choice of versions of digital audio file formats of this mastered and restored recording.
4 formats of digital audio file formats are provided:
Also available, in addition to the recording are:
The tracks for this album are also uploaded to TortoiseClimbing™'s Online Music Store at Bandcamp for Free download. (The online store is accessible by clicking on the main menu link for Online Store Access.) The download from Bandcamp includes an option that includes the lyrics as an attached.
The mastered and restored digital audio file is made available for download at the unbeatable price of Free, in alternative digital audio file formats with somewhat different fidelity (and size).
For those who would prefer a CD as a simple way to play this recording on existing home sound systems, TortoiseClimbing Audio™ has determined it can implement an ordering capability for a CD as an option via TortoiseClimbing™'s Online Store at Bandcamp. Assuming demand for such CDs will be small, simplistic CD copies can be individually burned by TortoiseClimbing Audio™ and mailed, at cost. (That means they will not have commerical printing on the CD.)
A questimate of incremental costs for making and mailing such individual CD's (including burning the CD, order processing, packaging and mailing) could be perhaps as much as $3.50, hopefully less. (This would use the Merchandise ordering/selling option on Bandcamp as the means of taking payment, collecting information for your email and post office mailing information, and notifying TortoiseClimbing Audio™ of your request for the CD of this performance, including where to mail).
Persons who might be interested in this album include:
Whether the mastered and restored recording can/should be provided in other formats depends on research and other's interest. Examples include:
Let TortoiseClimbing Audio™ know whether you have an interest in any of these.
Conceptually there is the possibility of creating a YouTube version of the mastered performance. That would be a bit of an undertaking to produce appropriate video content to accompany the mastered audio, in order to allow it to be posted to YouTube. But, it is a possibility. Again, is there any interest?
You can express your interest for other options, such as:
You can send your comments via the comments form on this website.
To submit your comment, go to the bottom of this page and click on the link Click to provide comment. It will take you to the comment page, where after providing identifying information, in the comments section at the bottom of the form you can explain your interest/request.
If you wish to comment on contents of this webpage, Clicking the button below will both transfer you to the Contact/Comment page, and pass along that you were on this webpage when you decided to comment.