BHS Orchestra Prepares Virtual Compositions

This past month, the orchestra, comprised of student musicians from all forms, has been preparing pieces virtually. The group was looking forward to performing on the new stage of the renovated chapel; however, due to the school shutdown and quarantine, the members have instead been working hard to provide the rest of the student body, faculty, and staff with fun, enjoyable, light-hearted music to brighten their days from their homes. Led by Mr. Fiori, the orchestra has prepared a virtual collaborative arrangement of the Game of Thrones theme song, which can be viewed above. The soundtrack from the widely popular television series was previously performed last February at the winter concert and featured in the Friday Forum on the 24th of April.

The inherent latency in video platforms such as Zoom or FaceTime prohibits live rehearsals and concerts, but through virtual collaborative videos, ensembles are provided with the ability to “perform.” Virtual performances allow for fine-tuning and editing to provide the best sound and video quality, which cannot be done in live performances. Virtual performances also have more potential for experimentation, giving rise to countless possibilities where performers can synthesize different genres to create novel and innovative performances. 

To create the orchestra’s performance, each member recorded themselves playing their parts while listening to a pre-recorded backing track produced by Mr. Fiori on Logic Pro to maintain a consistent tempo. He then edited the video each student provided in Final Cut Pro to make sure the piece was top quality. The most difficult task was lining up the timing of each player’s entrance and creating a grid of musicians that would properly highlight each player. He separately edited and compiled the audio from the recordings in Logic Pro, and worked on the audio mix, which included applying EQ to enhance each track, adjusting the “pan” of each instrument in the stereo field, and adding reverb to establish a more concrete sense of space and unity in the track. 

Music is meant to unite people, and through the orchestra’s performance and upcoming collaborative “virtual” performance videos from the Upper and Middle School Jazz ensembles, the Belmont Hill music groups hope to provide the community with a sense of unity. Even if it’s not the way they originally planned, the orchestra and the other ensembles are excited to keep performing for the Belmont Hill community through quarantine.

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