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!