San Antonio Symphony Plays On
MOSAS Plays On #1: Nimrod
Greetings All. My name is Steve Peterson. I am principal trombone of the San Antonio Symphony and I have been with the orchestra for four years. I began playing trombone in 5th grade at the band program of Lake Orion, Michigan where I grew up. I enjoyed band so much that I began to take lessons and do extracurricular youth and community orchestras and camps, leading me to a wonderful career in music.
My interest in video began in college. I didn't own a camera at the time, so I checked out a DV camcorder from the Literature, Science, and Arts college at the University of Michigan. I started making promo videos for my and my friends' music recitals. Those videos spread around the school quickly and I began doing more video projects for fun, collected more gear, and over the years, people started hiring me to do video pieces for symphonies and arts organizations. I even did a web commercial for a Thai Massage Spa, haha.
This recent San Antonio Symphony "Nimrod" video was the result of an email from our music director Sebastian Lang-Lessing. He was enthused about the Rotterdam Philharmonic's virtual performance of Beethoven 9 and asked if I could help San Antonio achieve something similar. Sebastian pitched the idea of an excerpt from Dvorak's 9th Symphony, but I wanted to use a piece that had a strong emotional impact for me personally. My first thought was to use Nimrod from Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations because this piece has always been on my short list of favorite pieces. I blasted out an email with instructions for an all volunteer symphony, asking the musicians to record their parts to the piece on their phones to a specified metronome marking.
MOSAS Plays On #2: Sibelius 5
I used a great audio editing program called Logic Pro to put all the audio parts together. I also added some natural pushes and pulls into the tempo and a wash of stage reverb to bring the sound together. For later projects like our video of Sibelius's 5th Symphony, I made a custom click track for musicians that has these tempo fluctuations built in.
For the video portion, I decided to go big and place everyone in three dimensional space in their approximate stage locations using Apple Motion, a graphics editing program. With the video panning from one musician to the next, the effect almost gives the impression that we are all performing physically together.
There's more to come! We are currently working on an epic video of the last movement of Mahler's 2nd Symphony that features solo singers, choir, and also a virtual audience. You can be part of this audience by filming a video of yourself applauding for 20-30 seconds and sending it to firstname.lastname@example.org - try using google drive/icloud/dropbox etc. I can't wait to put everyone in!
These videos have given me a great way to engage and produce music with my colleagues during this strange and challenging time that we all face. I think it is important for us and for the community that my symphony colleagues and I continue to do these types of projects. It allows us to broadcast positivity out to social media and also allows us to remind people that the symphony and other important institutions are still here during this challenging time.
I should also note that I like to do fun videos that are usually musician or trombone themed. I recently did a Halloween Special and I am working on a new series about a cop who fights crime with his trombone, of course...played by me. Once quarantine passes, I will be able to finish filming it. Check out my Youtube channel: youtube.com/c/petersonproject
Stay safe everyone, and thank you for reading.