Going Out With a Bang

This is the last week of the season for the orchestra, which means it’s also the last time I’ll be working with the musicians for quite some time. To mark this auspicious occasion, we’ve arranged for a very big and complicated week.To start, the orchestra is doing a recording project with a Canadian pop artist. They’ll be filming a music video tonight, recording the backing track tomorrow morning, and doing a promotional photo shoot around noon. It’s a big project, which means there are a lot of cooks in the kitchen – the video director, producer, the arranger / conductor, several unions, and a major Canadian corporation that’s picking up the tab. It’s definitely a lot more complicated than the usual CBC recordings that we’ve done, and my head hurts from trying to sort through the legalese found in the 90-odd pages of the American Federation of Musicians Sound Recording Labour Agreement (or the AFM SRLA for short). That’s some good readin’.After the recording’s finished, we are producing four nights of outdoor parks concerts at the new Lebreton Park. The orchestra is doing shows on Thursday (Marc-André Hamelin) and Saturday (Spirit of the West), with guest orchestras on Friday and Sunday nights.Everyone wants the orchestra to play outside during the summer, and it certainly is appealing when the weather is perfect. However, it’s been my experience that Mother Nature rarely cooperates for outdoor shows and I’m left to worry that it’s too hot / cold / windy / rainy / sunny.It’s also a really expensive endeavour. For these concerts, we need to build a big stage, cover it with a bigger tent, rent a lot of sound and lighting equipment, set up basic infrastructure like washrooms, information tents, backstage trailers, engage security for crowd control, round up volunteers to patrol the grounds, organize parking and refreshments for the musicians, create and distribute marketing materials, find a bilingual host, etc. Luckily the National Capital Commission has taken on a lot of those duties, so we’re sharing the work.So, after nine years, it’s come to this – a pop music video and Spirit of the West. The orchestra world is full of surprises.

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