|John Eliot Gardiner - 1980 - Don Harder, Paul Luchkow & Glenys Webster - June 2002|
When I was teaching high school in Mexico City in the early 70s my students thought I could read lips as they knew that my mother was almost deaf. I could not read lips but could hear my students talking at the back of the class because I had a keen ear. I have not lost it.
In 2006 there was a week of little concerts at the CBC’s Studio One celebrating the 250 birthday of Mozart. In one of them the Borealis Quartet was playing. I was near the front row. I noticed something amazing. If I looked at the violinist I could hear the sound of the violin coming straight to me. And this was the case for the other instruments.
I asked CBC Classical Music Producer, George Laverock to tell me about the excellence of the sound of the room. He told me it had no parallel in Canada and that its only competition was a room in Los Angeles.
Architect Paul Merrick, who built the Vancouver CBC building in 1975, and won a Governor General’s Award for it, recently sent me an email with some info on Studio One:
To get to your specific question regarding Studio One, I recall that it was in particular to have been a performance studio- with separate public access from outside, and having qualities suited to a chamber orchestra, or a public debate, but accommodating of course , the ability to support a television production of whatever was at hand.
The television cameras at that time- the early days of television- were very large, needed a high level of light- from sources that generated a great deal of heat, that required a great deal of cooling, that had to be delivered VERY quietly - therefore the very large ducts, with the fan units as remote as possible, therefor the form of the building.
Beyond that it is an extrusion- with the land left over at the south being seen as expansion space.
He did not add the beauty of the wood panelling on the west side of the room.
CBC Vancouver Studio One (my early 2006 blog)
Former CBC sound man, Don Harder, answered my question on his take on Studio One quite honestly:
I really can’t comment on the current state of Studio One. I haven’t stepped in the door for about 8 years.
I do know that they occasionally rent it out for film scoring, so it still can operate as a recording studio. Last I heard, the big digital console was getting pretty flakey. Those things need a lot of maintenance, and the Corp doesn’t have many guys left who can keep it in shape.
All the Corp has used it for is all staff meetings.
Violinist Marc Destrubé (he was the Concertmaster of the Former CBC Vancouver Orchestra) told me, “Make sure that if you write about the studio that you write the number as One. It is Studio One.”
On May 6 1980 I went to a concert called A Little Lunch Music at the Orpheum with my two daughters Alexandra and Hilary. It was the CBC Vancouver Orchestra headed by John Eliot Gardiner (in Vancouver until 1983). Gardiner introduced us and to Vancouver the sound of baroque string instruments. I wrote about that here.
I had one interesting photographic assignment around that time which was to photograph the orchestra rehearsing at Studio One. I also had the delightful experience of taking photographs of Gardiner by a harpsichord.
Few now in Vancouver know who Gardiner was or that his project
beginning in August of 2000 was to record every one of Bach’s Cantatas. This he did.
While Studio One is a former jewel in the Crown Corporation, I cannot avoid mentioning the other jewel, not a former in the least. It is Don Harder, the busiest sound man in our city, and who knows where, beyond.
I like to brag that the CBC had the best hockey cameraman in Canada (thus in the world) in Michael Varga who started working at the CBC in 1973.
And I like to brag about Don Harder has to be the best sound recording engineer anywhere in our nation.
Some years ago Gidon Kremer and a group came to Vancouver and played Ástor Piazzolla’s little opera María de Buenos Aires at the Chan. By then I had Kremer’s CD recording. By services rendered, the CBC gave me a recording of the performance done by Don Harder. Harder’s version is lively and wonderful (and better). In 1986 when Piazzolla played at Arts Club Theatre on Granville Island you can guess who recorded that performance. For further services rendered I have it too!
Ten years ago, at a home concert in West Van, I was sitting next to Harder. The music was very loud. I told Harder that it had to be at least 120 decibels. Harder took out his iPhone and corrected me, “It’s 145.”
Few might know that when Cecilia Bartoli sang in Vancouver she found Harder so competent that she asked him if he would accompany her to Europe to record. Our ever-faithful to the CBC Don Harder turned her down.
I called Marc Destrubé and asked him to confirm stories I had heard that Studio One is now used for storage. While we were talking he went to the Studio One website and gave me the real goods. While it would seem the space is no longer used for little concerts as I was told by Paul Merrick, it is indeed used.
Here is the website: Studio One
For me the real tragedy here is Don Harder’s confession that he has not been in the Studio One for 8 years.
The two jewels should meet again.