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The San Antonio Symphony Is Making An Ambitious Performance Video — And They Need Your Help

Steve Peterson in his editing suite.
Madison Perington
Steve Peterson in his editing suite.

The San Antonio Symphony is sidelined until their new season in September. Nonetheless they've found a way to continue playing together — in a sense.  They’re not doing it in person, but in video. How it happens starts with this guy.

"My name is Steve Peterson. I play Principal Trombone with the San Antonio Symphony. And I also like to make videos," he said.

He started delving into video back in college, but during the age of COVID-19 he's brought that interest front and center to enable the San Antonio Symphony to continue creating music together.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SauhGA_nNoc

"Me and a band of musician volunteers, we started putting these videos together — these videos that we've been making," he said.

He's done two of these videos and the final product makes it appear that the musicians are all playing together at the same time. They're not.  

"Doing it real-time would be interesting. I know some people are experimenting with Zoom, but I don't think Zoom is really set up for performance," Peterson said.

With COVID-19, Zoom software has allowed people to meet online, but it doesn't work for doing live music. Instead, Peterson's videos start with what's called a click track, a computer actuated metronome to keep everyone in time. And his next project is far more ambitious, with the symphony’s Music Director in this one.

"It starts out with Sebastian Lang-Lessing, who makes a conducting video,” he said. “He's made a conducting performance that he's filmed himself and sent to me."

Peterson then adds a click track per Lang-Lessing's conducting, and makes that available to the musicians, who record their parts individually at home. But this time around, the number of players has grown.

"This is a collaboration with the Mastersingers, which is really exciting," Peterson said.

The 110-voice San Antonio Mastersingers effectively doubles the video tracks from the recent project. So, what music are they playing in that next project?

"I was going to keep it a secret, but I think my girlfriend may have leaked it on Facebook,” he laughed. “We're working on the end of Mahler's Second Symphony."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsWhRXFDQG4

It's also called the "Resurrection Symphony," an interesting choice amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. And interestingly, he's giving himself an even more complex task. He wants to include you in it. No really. He wants you to record two things.

"A one-minute video, with 30 seconds of listening, and 30 seconds of applause," he said. 

This enables you to be part of the virtual audience in this virtual performance making you in this video virtually a part of the San Antonio Symphony. 

Send your video to stevegpeterson@yahoo.com.

steve_symphony_photo_by_mike_steiger.jpg
Credit Mike Steiger
Steve Peterson with others in the horn section.

Jack Morgan can be reached at Jack@TPR.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii.

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