Every now and then, we have the opportunity to produce a video completely in-house just for the love of the subject matter and for the love of what we do. Symphony Interruptus was months in the making, requiring collaboration with friends and colleagues in a number of institutions. This is the story of how this video, the music, and the event all came to be.
It all started with a man named Charlie Hatchette. Charlie is a good friend of Advanced Media, and an active supporter of the arts and culture in Fort Collins, Colorado. He thought it would be great to have spontaneous art in a public space (or maybe he just wanted to play a prank on hundreds of people at once), and as a regular patron and donor to the Lincoln Center and Fort Collins Symphony, he had the connections and the space he needed to pull it off.
Through many dinner conversations, the idea emerged to have cell phones collide with a symphony performance. Charlie got to work creating self-contained, remotely-controlled speaker boxes that could play the ringtones. Meanwhile, over at Colorado State University, Jim David was busy composing a classical music piece utilizing those all-too-familiar ringtones we hear every day; he called it iCanon! When the music was completed, it headed over to Wes Kenney, Conductor of the Fort Collins Symphony. Countless hours of practice went into perfecting this piece for the day of the performance – no small feat when you consider each individual in the symphony volunteered their personal time to practice iCanon IN ADDITION to normal practice hours.
And that’s when we came into the picture. In order to make this video, we not only needed to film the live performance, but the Symphony agreed to hold a dress rehearsal just for us!They played the piece in its entirety three times through, while we shot the symphony from every angle we could imagine – we had a jib on stage, sliders, handheld cameras capturing close-ups of the musicians and conductor, and I was up in the rafters with the lights. If you happen to know a lighting tech, thank him or her. It is HOT up there!
Our private screening done, it was time for the real deal. The night of the performance was abuzz with excitement – not only from the crowd who was there for the last show of the 2013 – 2014 season, but for the Symphony, Lincoln Center Staff, Charlie, and Advanced Media with foreknowledge of what was about to occur.
We hid 9 cameras around the auditorium at the Lincoln Center. Some were stationary, some were manned. We had cameras in the crowd, on stage with the orchestra, in the lighting and sound booths, and even had a few volunteers with iPhones in the crowd. As the crowd poured in, our spies entered and took their seats carrying their seemingly benign bags. But what those bags contained was about to give everyone a surprise.
Eight people with eight bags containing eight speakers were planted around the auditorium. The lights dropped, and the anticipation built. Our crowd cameras left their seats and turned their cameras on the patrons. As Wes took the stage and turned to begin conducting, the button was pressed. A few agonizing seconds later, the first ringtone went off. A few gasps and a few laughs and the crowd quieted down. Then the second, followed by the third building to a cacophony of technological noise. As Wes conducted the cell phones, the crowd knew something was up. Then he turned to the symphony, brought them to attention, and…well, just watch…
This was such a fun project to be a part of – from conception to realization. It took the varied skills, effort, and time of dozens of people – all to have some fun with technology, play a prank on a big audience, and make some new art in a public space. We feel grateful to have been a small part of this event, and are very happy to be able to share it with you!