Saturday, August 7, 2010

Special Requests

Some of you may not know this but I not only teach and perform music--I also arrange it. Sometimes for fun (yes, I'm that much of a music nerd) but more often than not it's because of a request, usually for a wedding. I try to honor all requests, as long as they're logical. I once had a friend ask if my string trio could perform "Rhapsody in Blue" and I had to politely decline.

Thankfully, ninety-nine percent of the requests are doable and I've had a BLAST with all of them. I just finished working on a couple of tunes for a friend's wedding next month--a theme (the main theme??) from A River Runs Through It and "The Blood of Cuchulainn," aka the Irish tune from the movie Boondock Saints. I think the bride and groom will be happy with my versions (arranged violin/viola, cello and piano).

My very favorite arrangement of all time, hands down, is "The Throne Room" from Star Wars: A New Hope. The bride sent me an mp3 and I purchased an arrangement for brass quintet. I changed some keys, re-worked some modulations, threw in some doublestops to fill in the harmonies and voilĂ --a totally friggin' AWESOME arrangement was born. And I'm not just tooting my own horn--you should've been there the first time we rehearsed it. We stopped somewhere through the first run-through because my violinist and cellist were majorly geeking out!! This arrangement is several years old but had never been recorded until yesterday. So here it is for you to enjoy!

I've also written arrangements for show choir. Boy, is that a different beast than string trio! I've done a few "oldies" as well as more recent pop tunes (couple of *NSYNC songs). A friend just asked if I'd arrange some current hits for her string orchestra, so I'm looking forward to that as well!

I really enjoy the process of learning a piece inside and out--really living with it--and then reworking it to fit whatever new configuration it is I'm arranging for. I've had the "Blood of Cuchulainn" stuck in my head for about five days now, but I love it! Any other arrangers out there have words of wisdom they want to give? Any other musicians have arrangements you'd like to share/geek out about? And of course, if you have any requests send them my way. I'll do my best to honor them!


  1. Yes! Two thumbs up here!!

    I think that arranging is a lot of fun. Unfortunately, I tend to arrange in my head and never get around to writing it down. Many years ago I took out the erase head on a cassette recorder so I could multi-track myself. Crude and rude but it set the pattern. I need to be much more disciplined, I guess.

    This arrangement rocks!

  2. Thanks, Buck! Maybe if I post more videos of my arrangements it'll inspire you to step up to the plate. Whaddya think? :-D

  3. Wow! That's a cool arrangement! Ever think about having them published? That would be a great one to have in every string trio/quartet's library! It makes great recessional music! :)

  4. Thanks, Kimberly! I hadn't thought about publishing the arrangements...never done anything like that. Thanks for the suggestion--I'll look into it!

    And yes, it's a perfect recessional--that's what we played it for. The groom was a huge Star Wars fan and gave us a thumbs up as they recessed. Mission accomplished! :-)

  5. I absolutely love this arrangement!! Though I'd never do my wedding day over again (especially since you were my MOH), this would have been SO COOL to have playing sometime during that crazy day. I've always admired your musical talent, and watching you in many performances and venues. I feel that you are a very gifted musician. I'm not creative, nor musically inclined, but I'm a big fan of yours. If I ever come across musical people and career paths, you know I'll let you know about it. Best of luck with your goal of living music!!