A member of the UT Wind ensemble gives a first hand account of the performance on Saturday, Oct. 6.
“See you at the finish line,” whispered Dr. Jeff Traster as he raised his baton to the UT Wind Ensemble. The audience fell silent and two, massive stage lights cut through the air. Forty minutes of continuous playing awaited these 61 players as well as one of the longest standing ovations in UT concert history. This truly was a night to remember.
Beginning with a classic opener arranged by UT Freshman Estela Aragon, 20th Century Fox Fanfare, the crowd was immediately drawn to the gigantic screen that hung behind the performers. Before anyone had the time to ask why, they got their answer.
The Wizard of Oz music accompanied various scenes, displayed by the projector with precise cuts between movements. This synching of music and visuals continued throughout the entire show, which consisted of The Simpsons, Star Wars Medley, The Lion King, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, “Bella Notte” (arranged by Dr. Traster), Pirates of the Caribbean, and Overture 1812. Scene after scene, movement after movement the tech crew and ensemble worked seemingly telepathically.
John Stepro, head of UT Media Services, came to Dr. Traster with the idea of combining his own team with the music team. He wanted the audience to not only be engaged musically in a concert but visually as well.
After selecting all of the music, a date was set for Family Weekend and school began.
After only four rehearsals, a rough recording was made in class, which Stepro used to create the accompanying video. Initially, he thought the time frame would be around 20 minutes but all that changed after spending hours of adding artistic pauses, improvisations, and working with the musical themes.
The final play time was a non-stop 40 minutes display of incredible talent and amazing film.
“The players had a lot of fun with it. We added a little of our own stuff too,” laughed Dr. Traster.
He recalls the day clarinetist, Jessie Holder, asked if the group could insert a “Spider Pig” reference into The Simpsons. Three bars were improvised into the score and synched with the visuals to add a comedic relief for the audience.
These inserts didn’t end here. Voices from the pit spoke as “Munchkins” and also whispered “Hakuna Matata” in a movement during The Lion King.
Co-sponsored by Media Services and Student Productions, “A Night at the Movies” was a huge project.
The day began for the crew at 7:30 a.m. and did not finish until well after the show. Just hours before call time, the crew and ensemble continued to rehearse and set up for one of the biggest crowds UT has seen. Five-hundred people lined up in and outside Falk Theatre, Saturday Oct. 6 to see the show.
“I don’t think I’ve ever worked harder in a concert. I put my full trust in Stepro and the musicians, dedicated myself to the music, and gave my respect to the audience and their reactions.” Traster said.
Congratulations to The University of Tampa on this historical night. And for fans looking for more, both the Media Services and the Music Dept. have already begun collaborating for the next concert coming this Christmas. The trend is set and I doubt that concerts will ever be the same after the UT Wind Ensemble’s “Night at the Movies.”