Posted by: Paul | October 16, 2010

Simon MacCorkindale 1952-2010

Heard some sad news yesterday. Actor and voiceover artist Simon MacCorkindale, with whom I worked many times around the turn of the millennium, passed away after a 4 year fight against bowel cancer. He was just 58, and in the past few years his career had undergone a new phase of success with high profile roles in Casualty and other TV work.

Though I didn’t know him well, having just recorded him from time to time, I liked Simon. He was a model professional, dedicated to his craft, and he put as much effort into preparing for and reading an audio guide script as he showed in the rest of his work. I liked that he didn’t look down on what we were doing – he seemed to enjoy the jobs and working with our team. So much so that for a while he became the de facto voice, especially for fine art shows. He had a rich, warm voice, full of authority, but had the rare ability to make it flick from friendly to menacing within the same sentence. His range was truly excellent.

One particular track stood out. It was one of those occasions when you know you’ve got it in the bag on the first take – the perfect marriage of a voice having prepared, understood what they’re reading, delivered it with gusto, and enjoyed every minute. The work was ‘Death’s Procession’, by Gustav Spangenberg, in the collection of the Old National Gallery in Berlin. Backed by an elemental rendition of ‘Dies Irae’, the opening paragraph went as follows:

‘Death strides across the land, ringing his bell, summoning all those whose last hour has come. Whether young or old, whether a knight on his charger, a bishop in full regalia, a wealthy patrician or an ailing beggar, they all have to come when he calls. The procession is endless, reaching all the way across the dark, treeless plain to the horizon. And all the time, more people are summoned to join it.”

Hearing the final performance and mix is powerful, and it was used in company sales presentations for years afterwards. I wish I could play it to you but sadly copyright restrictions don’t permit me to post it. But thank you, Simon MacCorkindale, for making the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and proving that audio tours, when they work as they are intended to, are a singular force for enhancing the experience of a visitor.

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