Years in the Making: TF3 Collaborates with LM Orchestras

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Years in the Making: TF3 Collaborates with LM Orchestras

Calvin Kanz, Staff Reporter

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Students involved in Linn-Mar’s orchestra department were surprised this winter with an unexpected announcement. Following more than two years of correspondence and planning, directors Joshua Reznicow and Thad Sentman had quietly organized a concert with the professional orchestral trio Time for Three. The concert featured a wide range of musical styles, including pieces by Gustav Mahler, Guns n’ Roses and an original piece with a vocalist. After uncertainty following an abundance of snow days, the concert took place on February 14th and culminated in a unique, rich experience for musicians in the department.

The initial reveal took place near the end of first semester. As a member of Symphony Orchestra, I watched a video of TF3 performing as Reznicow explained how they had first come across the trio. He displayed their group website and scrolled through the future tour dates and locations: Nevada, Florida–TF3 had performed internationally, Reznicow said. Then, Linn-Mar High School. In February, we would play alongside the musicians in our own auditorium.

We soon began rehearsing the music. The literature posed much less of a technical challenge to the ensembles than one of coordination and other factors. The tempo was not breakneck and the notes were accessible. We established a basic understanding and filled in the technical pieces of the music, then began to attack other factors.

Performing with a professional group requires exceptional preparation and focus. We listened and played along with recording demos to perfect entrances and exits. TF3 sent audio clips for us to match the cadence of improvised sections and prevent mutual embarrassment on stage. We worked with energy and tone of the music, adjusting to blend with the soloists and fit the intended impact of the music. Coordination with another group requires concentration of both groups in order to fit together seamlessly. We were careful not to overpower their volume while still matching their energy in intense, louder sections. A successful performance by our ensemble would only have been possible as a committed compliment to the trio’s music, not a liability of unengaged musicians.

Preparation quickly became a concern when notifications beginning, “Linn-Mar CSD…,” began appearing. Snow days and delays eliminated valuable rehearsal time leading up to the week of the performance. Our directors became visibly stressed, and rightfully so, about the approaching deadline of the complicated debut. Not only did the groups have to be prepared for the minimal rehearsal time with TF3, the stage had to be prepared with pickups and mics, a visual relay of the conductor for our visitors, and monitors behind the orchestra with sound adjusted for the audience.

We first met with the members of TF3, Nick, Charles, and Ranaan, in the morning. They stood amiably on the rug center-stage while players filed to their respective seats. I expected a rather pretentious group of players, but the musicians were remarkably kind and humble. They tended to speak to us as a group instead of to the director alone. Our rehearsals must have paid off, as they explicitly thanked us for being unexpectedly prepared and competent. One piece, “Banjo Love,” was sometimes cut during performances because of its confusing time signatures and rhythm, they said. We were able to keep it and our small group ensemble performed it on concert night.

Nick, Charles, and Ranaan were personable people. They joked with us and brought a lively feel to our rehearsals. Sometimes, with professionals, rehearsals can be dry and demanding, but these felt productive, while still being enjoyable. Reznicow seemed to enjoy working with the trio as well. His original compositions tend towards the more modern, aggressive, and full, “Linn-Mar Sound” rather than contrasting quiet, classical arrangements.

The songs we played during our February concert, although not necessarily the first thing my classically-minded violin teacher would have preferred, were pieces the orchestra and I seemed to genuinely enjoy.

Our concert night was a success. The many factors of preparation seemed to come through and connect along with the physical preparation of the auditorium. The atmosphere was more exciting than that of typical concerts, with a little nervousness mixed in; I personally found a lot of enjoyment in playing atypical music with the musicians. The cumulative work put into the project resulted in a unique experience that my colleagues and I found deeply rewarding and educationally productive.