Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Feast of John Donne -- March 31, 2012

March 31 is the Feast of John Donne on the Episcopal Church's Calendar of Lesser Feasts and Fasts.

This image of Donne is of a painting in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, made by an unknown artist about 1620. There is another version of this portrait, generally regarded as a copy of the one in the V&A,  that hangs in the Library of the Deanery of St. Paul's Cathedral.

This is the Collect for John Donne's Day in the Episcopal Church's Calendar:

ALMIGHTY God, who in this wondrous world dost manifest thy power and beauty: Open the eyes of all men to see, as did thy servant John Donne, that whatsoever has any being is a mirror wherein we may behold thee, the root and fountain of all being; through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord. Amen.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Rendered Images from Josh Stephens' Draft Model

Josh has rendered some images from his draft model of Paul's Churchyard, which means adding shadows, figures, and the like. The results are stunning.

Here is the Cross with the Cathedral in the background.

Here is the Churchyard as seen through the gateway on the northeast corner.

And the Churchyard with the east end of the Cathedral.

Here is the Crossing and the North Transept.

If you look closely at the figures, you will see that they are in modern dress, so what we see here is how Paul's Churchyard would look today if the Great Fire had not happened and the Cathedral had been restored after the Restoration without Christopher Wren's baroque revisions.


Friday, March 16, 2012

Complete DRAFT Model -- Paul's Churchyard, March 2012

Josh Stephens, our Sketch-Up expert, has completed a First Draft Model of St. Paul's Cathedral and Paul's Churchyard.

This model, lovely to look at though it may be, is a DRAFT model.

John Schofield is reviewing the model to compare it to his findings as reported in his St. Paul's Before Wren (English Heritage, 2011). Josh will be making revisions to the model in light of John's comments later this summer.

Right now, Josh is at work converting this model into the model to be used by Ben Markham and his colleagues at Acentech, in Cambridge, MA, to recreate the acoustic properties of Paul's Churchyard.

This model will be much less detailed. It will only show the surfaces that are acoustically significant, but it will include information about their absorptive and reflective properties.

In the meantime, the model is worth contemplating, since it shows St. Paul's Cathedral and Paul's Churchyard -- approximately -- all together for the first time since the day before the Great Fire of London.

Congratulations to Josh for his fine work. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Recording John Donne -- Anechoic Chamber, Salford, England, 9 March 2012

This photograph shows Ben Crystal and John Wall standing inside the anechoic chamber at the University of Salford, near Manchester, in England, yesterday, during a break in recording.

Ben spent 7 hours yesterday inside this special studio recording Donne's Gunpowder Day Sermon for November 5th, 1622. 

The recording is done; we will soon have the master recording for Ben Markham and his acoustic engineering colleagues at Acentech in Cambridge, MA.

Ben Crystal worked tirelessly under very difficult recording circumstances. He had no acoustic feedback for his performance. He was standing on a wire floor that was acoustically transparent but also springy, like a trampoline. He was working with 3 different microphones.

Ben performed Donne's semon with the goal of making his performance powerful and moving in its own right, and also congruent with contemporary accounts of Donne's preaching.

I think the results are brilliant. We have reached a major milestone in the course of this project.

My thanks to Ben for his generosity with his time, talent, and energy, and to Danny McCaul who runs the Acoustic Facilities at Salford, and especially to recording engineer James Massaglia, who handled the actual recording of Ben's performance.

James also took the photos above of Ben and me and of Ben in recording pose in the anechoic chamber. 

Thanks, James, for helping us document the progress of the Virtual Paul's Cross Project.

John Donne in Manchester, March 8th, 2012

I am in Manchester for Ben Crystal's recording of Donne's Gunpowder Day sermon for November 5th, 1622.

I know that John Donne is here with us.

Yesterday, at the airport, when we were picking up luggage from the luggage carousel, I saw a bag go by on the conveyer belt with a wide red strap around it.

On the strap, in large white letters, was the name "John Dunne."

Suddenly, a hand reached out from the crowd and picked up the bag. The crowd closed around me again before I had a chance to see who had picked it up.

Nevertheless, a good omen, I think, for our work here.