Last night, the superb violinist Tamas Kocsis presented “On the Playground” with the Orlando Philharmonic orchestra under the deft baton of Maestro Christopher Wilkins. Last night was one of the highlights of my life as a composer. So many aspects ‘lined up’ for yesterday evening: my wife Joy was there, my daughter Emily, my youngest son Brendon (we couldn’t manage to get down to pick up my oldest son Chris), many of my friends, a warm and appreciative audience at Celebration, Florida, an absolutely perfect acoustical room for a string ensemble of 23 players, a good surround recording of the event, and a splendid after-concert party.

The last decades of orchestras budgets prevent proper rehearsal time of new works – and the music suffers for it, sometimes badly. This has less to do with the music than the fact that a professional performance quality requires a deep understanding of how to interpret the music on the page. Sir Georg Solti remarked that a new Bach piece was just as challenging as a modern piece in that way. Orchestras are so accustomed to having only three rehearsals per concert that the rhythm and intensity of rehearsals has become quite efficient. But that is for music that is not new for most of the players. Thanks to Ed Haddock, a co owner of Full Sail University, a fourth rehearsal was funded which made all the difference in the outcome allowing the musicians to play more to their capacity. At least this is true under good leadership: Christopher WIlkins brings such leadership to the Orlando Philharmonic. It was Maestro Wilkins who suggested the extra rehearsal in the beginning; knowing that my work would not receive its due without more than the usual rehearsals. A music director and conductor has to create a fine tuned balance between programming older and newer, simpler and more difficult music all the while placing heavy demands on the rehearsal pace, respecting and having fun with the musicians the entire duration. Without Christopher and Ed Haddock, this would not have been a success.
Jeff and Holly Adler’s hosted the orchestra and my family to an after concert party at their beautiful home on Celebration Avenue. What a fabulous time it was. Great conversation, laughs, the most excellent spread of food and wine and a rich, warm family atmosphere. Celebration is fortunate to have such an active and intelligent group creating a series of concerts at the Community Presbyterian Church. Joy and I hope to join them soon at the Florida Youth Orchestra concert in early March.
I am a lover of sound, which has led me down the path of audio science as well as a composer – and, was allowed by the OPO a wide berth to supervise an excellent recording of the concerto. Paul Harlyn, a friend and fellow audio engineer, and two gifted Full Sail graduates Cody James and Jaysen – with technical support from Keith Andrews made this possible. Paul, his son and the team tuned the mics through the Friday rehearsal at the venue to capture the warmth and detail of the concert. We employed Keith’s Soundfield mic just in front of the conductor, placed AKG 451s at the far flanks at either side of the orchestra and an XY pair of AT4051s in front of the violin. (The Audio Technica mics provided a much better sound than did the Neumann KM54s!). These mics were fed through an Apogee Ensemble for A/D and preamp functions and then into a MacBook Pro. we are excited about the quality of this recording and I look forward to hearing it and sharing it with you.

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