Before the musicians take the stage and a single note has been played, the TSO production team has been hard at work planning, organizing, and setting up.
TSO production manager Stacey Hubert begins by drafting precise floor plans for each concert in AutoCAD based on the number of musicians and the unique stage dynamics of each program. It’s not always as simple as chairs, stands and risers! For movie concerts, a film screen has to be constructed on site and raised above the Linda Ronstadt Music Hall stage. For the upcoming performances of Holiday Magic with Cirque de la Symphonie, acrobatic rigging will need to be meticulously secured above the musicians.
Early each week, prior to the start of rehearsals, the production team and contracted crew members from Rhino Staging spend the day “loading in.” Large box trucks with all the equipment the concert needs make their way from the Symphony Center to the Music Hall or, in the case of Masterworks concerts, Catalina Foothills High School. When the team arrives at the venue they unload and set up the acoustic shell and equipment, which includes everything from risers, music stands, extra-large instruments like pianos and harpsichords, chairs, and more. It’s like moving and setting up a mid-size apartment worth of furniture several times a month!
The production team’s work doesn’t end at the load in; in fact, it is just the beginning. Throughout rehearsals they are making adjustments to the lighting, sound, and stage layout based on Maestro Gomez and the soloist’s requests and their own observations. They often have to come up with creative solutions to execute the artistic planning team’s vision for the concert. For instance, during the Pines and Fountains of Rome concert principal trumpet, Hayato Tanaka, performed a solo behind the acoustic shell. To ensure the solo is in sync with the orchestra, production set up a GoPro camera in front of Maestro Gomez that sent a live feed to a screen in front of Hayato, allowing him to follow the rest of the performance.
On the day of a concert, the production team are the first people to arrive, double checking the lighting and audio and setting up for Concert Comments or the first piece that will be performed. During concerts, production is handling everything behind the scenes, making sure musicians have what they need and are where they need to be, communicating with the front of house, performing set changes between pieces, and ensuring that everything on stage runs smoothly. “When Maestro’s hands go up, we breathe a sigh of relief,” says Stacey. “We know that we’ve done our job well and now it’s the musicians turn to do theirs.”
After the final performance the team starts the “load out”, disassembling and moving all the equipment back to the Symphony Center until the next show. Fortunately, the TSO production team are experts with decades of experience. They make this hard work look easy and create a seamless experience for the musicians and audiences.