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How much rehearsal time does an orchestra have on Live-to-Projection concerts?


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My reason for asking this is that I went to two Star Wars: Live-to-Projection concerts at the Kennedy Center, Washington, DC—A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back—with the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Steven Reineke.  I was disappointed with how the brass section handled the playing of Williams outstanding notes—they were not pronouncing the notes as sharply as they should be.  Other orchestras I’ve witness on stage did a better job at them—the Baltimore Symphony and the New Jersey Symphony.  I would think that if Maestro Reineke have heard these wrong notes that he would work hard in having the brass musicians correct them, but, to my ear, he didn’t and just let them get away with it.  I’m wondering if it may be the lack of rehearsal time the orchestra may have been given that is causing the problem.

Incidentally, during the intermission of the SW-ANH performance in New Jersey, one of the French horn players volunteered to greet the audience and I asked him how much rehearsal time the orchestra had in this program.  He said that they had two 4-hour rehearsals—one rehearsal a day—within 7 days before the first public performance.  So I’m wondering if other orchestras have a different procedure.

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Contrary to what a lot of academic would tell you about its simplicity, film music is actually quite hard to play. And playing a score from start to finish in one go can be quite a challenge.   

You're dealing with JWFans here. 'Kinda weird' doesn't begin to describe it.

And bear in mind that most orchestras aren't used to play to such exact timings are required by a live to projection concert. Compared to studio recordings, live performances are prone to mistakes any

And bear in mind that most orchestras aren't used to play to such exact timings are required by a live to projection concert. Compared to studio recordings, live performances are prone to mistakes anyway (most live recordings edit them out by combining takes from multiple performances), and playing unfamiliar music in an unfamiliar setting with probably little rehearsal time doesn't make it any easier. I was surprised that the LSO played as flawlessly as they did last weekend.

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1 hour ago, Marian Schedenig said:

And bear in mind that most orchestras aren't used to play to such exact timings are required by a live to projection concert. Compared to studio recordings, live performances are prone to mistakes anyway (most live recordings edit them out by combining takes from multiple performances), and playing unfamiliar music in an unfamiliar setting with probably little rehearsal time doesn't make it any easier. I was surprised that the LSO played as flawlessly as they did last weekend.

They absolutely did. I think this might have been the best performance yet.

 

Karol

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4 hours ago, Bilbo said:

I’d love to see the LSO do TFA live, I might enjoy the score more with a proper sounding Star Wars brass section. 

 

That’s the only way I’ll give TFA another listen, when it's at a concert setting.  There was something about how the brass sounded at the Sony Scoring Stage, where the original soundtrack recording was made, that rubbed me the wrong way.

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14 hours ago, SyncMan said:

 

That’s the only way I’ll give TFA another listen, when it's at a concert setting.  There was something about how the brass sounded at the Sony Scoring Stage, where the original soundtrack recording was made, that rubbed me the wrong way.

 

I think the brass sounds fine on TFA, but even if I didn't I can't imagine thinking it sounded so bad that I'd refuse to EVER listen to the score again.  That's kinda weird, man.

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I'm certainly not advocating music drowning sound effects, and the sound design on The Force Awakens is excellent and deserves to shine.

 

But if the audience comes out of the film (especially in this series) unaware that there was music at all - without actively listening to the underscore and without having heard the OST prior - that's a problem.

 

It sure doesn't help that The Force Awakens is one of, if not the least extrovert and grand of the eight scores, and features the smallest instrumental ensemble.

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15 hours ago, SyncMan said:

 

That’s the only way I’ll give TFA another listen, when it's at a concert setting.  There was something about how the brass sounded at the Sony Scoring Stage, where the original soundtrack recording was made, that rubbed me the wrong way.

 

47 minutes ago, Disco Stu said:

 

I think the brass sounds fine on TFA, but even if I didn't I can't imagine thinking it sounded so bad that I'd refuse to EVER listen to the score again.  That's kinda weird, man.

Just to be clear, it's not so much the brass section's playing in as much as how their sound is heard in the acoustics of the Sony Scoring Stage.  I'm sure Williams recruits the best players in the LA area, but the room's quality is not the same as back in the 1980's through the 1990's when it was known as the MGM Scoring Stage.  Some kind of renovation was done in that room that created that quality and how it affected the sound of other scores recorded there in recent years.  I guess I miss that sound in Williams music.  That's one of the reasons why I dislike the TFA score.

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On 11/16/2019 at 8:04 AM, ricsim88 said:

The reception was phenomenal. It was quite interesting as a musician to perform while the audience reacts to the on screen action. A lot of fun.

The screen was above and behind the orchestra, and only used on the 2nd rehearsal. It’s a well oiled machine for sure. Everything went super smoothly.

the film and  music tracks were both mixed and sent through speakers. From what I’ve heard, it seemed it was well balanced and the sound quality was good. It was in a big hockey arena.

Overall it was a lot of fun, the conductor was great, he was very precise and knew the score incredibly well.

I would have liked just one more rehearsal....playing Quidditch only once through before the performance was a little nerve wracking...

Hopefully we get to do more in the future.

Hi, @ricsim88,

I just wanted to pick your brain on the Harry Potter L2P concert that you've performed.  From what musicians have told me when they do these concerts,  the rehearsals (no more than 2) focus on some of the score’s challenging parts, so the orchestra doesn't perform the entire score during these sessions.  From the rehearsals that your orchestra puts-in, what aspects of the score would be considered ‘challenging’?

 

Maybe @moi can answer this, too.

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6 hours ago, SyncMan said:

  

Hi, @ricsim88,

I just wanted to pick your brain on the Harry Potter L2P concert that you've performed.  From what musicians have told me when they do these concerts,  the rehearsals (no more than 2) focus on some of the score’s challenging parts, so the orchestra doesn't perform the entire score during these sessions.  From the rehearsals that your orchestra puts-in, what aspects of the score would be considered ‘challenging’?

 

Maybe @moi can answer this, too.

 There were a few technical cues that required more work, but for the most part, keeping things in sync was the challenge. The very scary part for me, was that we didn’t have time to run the whole quidditch cue twice before the show...It definitely was exciting. 
cues are also rehearsed completely out of order. So the show is the first time you play it from top to bottom. 
It was an incredible experience. I really hope we get to do more. 

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On 11/24/2018 at 6:36 PM, SyncMan said:

Incidentally, during the intermission of the SW-ANH performance in New Jersey, one of the French horn players volunteered to greet the audience and I asked him how much rehearsal time the orchestra had in this program.  He said that they had two 4-hour rehearsals—one rehearsal a day—within 7 days before the first public performance.  So I’m wondering if other orchestras have a different procedure.


Are you sure they didn’t say 3 hours instead of 4? 4 hour rehearsals are practically unheard of for professional orchestras. Extra pay is required by the AFM (the musicians’ union that nearly every significant professional orchestra in the US and Canada is part of) for anything past 2.5 hours, the standard length of a service (rehearsal or performance). I’ve played with professional orchestras for the last 15 years, and the only time I ever had rehearsals longer than 2.5 hours was some 3 hour rehearsals for operas.
 

Typically, it would be one 2.5 hour rehearsal and one 2.5 hour “dress rehearsal”, which is essentially a run-through. Rehearsals are usually scheduled as close to the performances as possible: if the first performance is in the evening, the dress rehearsal will probably be that morning, for instance. It’s not unusual for easier Pops concerts to be done on a single rehearsal. For comparison, classical series concerts usually receive 4 or 5 rehearsals prior to the performance.

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Hey, @BrotherSound, I appreciate the information on the duration time of each rehearsal.  

 

I’m now reading what I wrote over a year ago and I realize now, as I’ve spoken with more musicians in the months that followed, that the standard time of a rehearsal session is 2.5 hours.

The area where I spoke with that musician was at the lobby during the intermission of the SW:ANH concert in New Jersey and it was very crowded and noisy—loud talking, kids frolicking, and a working R2-D2 robot roaming around that made beeps and whistles. No wonder I got the times mixed up.

 

Thanks for your recollection on that event, @ricsim88.

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2 hours ago, BrotherSound said:


Are you sure they didn’t say 3 hours instead of 4? 4 hour rehearsals are practically unheard of for professional orchestras. Extra pay is required by the AFM (the musicians’ union that nearly every significant professional orchestra in the US and Canada is part of) for anything past 2.5 hours, the standard length of a service (rehearsal or performance). I’ve played with professional orchestras for the last 15 years, and the only time I ever had rehearsals longer than 2.5 hours was some 3 hour rehearsals for operas.
 

Typically, it would be one 2.5 hour rehearsal and one 2.5 hour “dress rehearsal”, which is essentially a run-through. Rehearsals are usually scheduled as close to the performances as possible: if the first performance is in the evening, the dress rehearsal will probably be that morning, for instance. It’s not unusual for easier Pops concerts to be done on a single rehearsal. For comparison, classical series concerts usually receive 4 or 5 rehearsals prior to the performance.

We had a 2.5 hour rehearsal and a 3 hour dress, the afternoon of the show. Definitely didn’t feel over rehearsed. 

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I just thought of a few more questions for you @ricsim88:

 

Were all the rehearsals done at that hockey stadium or was one of them done elsewhere--a rehearsal or somewhere?

 

In the very first rehearsal, did you and the orchestra had to work with the film's audio track--the dialogue and sound effects?  From what the musicians also say, playing a John Williams film score to picture in real-time before a live audience is 'tricky'.  I figured that you and the orchestra would need the first rehearsal to get used to the practice of working with a 'click-track' without the sounds of monster roars and broomsticks whooshing to distract you.

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8 minutes ago, SyncMan said:

I just thought of a few more questions for you @ricsim88:

 

Were all the rehearsals done at that hockey stadium or was one of them done elsewhere--a rehearsal or somewhere?

 

In the very first rehearsal, did you and the orchestra had to work with the film's audio track--the dialogue and sound effects?  From what the musicians also say, playing a John Williams film score to picture in real-time before a live audience is 'tricky'.  I figured that you and the orchestra would need the first rehearsal to get used to the practice of working with a 'click-track' without the sounds of monster roars and broomsticks whooshing to distract you.

The first rehearsal was is an incredibly packed church...extremely difficult to hear anything. 
For the first rehearsal, the conductor had a monitor to follow along, but there was nothing else from the movie. No click track was used. The conductor was extremely clear and knew the score incredibly well, the tricky part was to be able to see him. The sound of the movie wasn’t overly distracting, as it was coming out of speakers that were in front of us. From what I heard from audience members, it seems the balance was really good. I guess the sound guys were impressed by the trumpet section...I suppose it pays off to be a huge JW fan 😃
it truly was a fantastic experience. We were going to possibly do chamber of secrets or Home Alone this coming season, but covid had other plans...

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