In Celebration of Spring:
Waltz of the Flowers
by P. Tschaikowsky
January 2021: Welcome to ASO Virtual Orchestra Project #2. All current and past members of ASO are invited to participate. In addition, we are inviting our friends at ASO York, UK, and at Eureka Symphony, and other friends who also play instruments to participate to help us achieve a full orchestra.
The goal of creating this virtual orchestra video is primarily to help us all to continue playing music during the pandemic, but also to provide a feast for the ears and eyes for all our friends and to raise their spirits.
This is only my second experience leading one of these, so please give me feedback and let me know if anything needs to be changed to make it better, or to just plain make it work. You may notice some changes and improvements from the first project. THANKS! Susan Bicknell, Librarian, All Seasons Orchestra firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-768-1975.
Invitation to Submit Flower Photos and Videos:
In addition to (or instead of) participating by making your video of you playing a part, you are also invited to submit your best original photos and/or videos of flowers. Please submit high quality, high definition photos and/or videos of flowers in JPEG format (MP4 for videos) by sending them (or a link) to email@example.com. Please submit only up to your best ten photos and one video. You need not be a musician to participate in this part of the project. By submitting your photos and videos, you give permission for them to be used in this project. You will receive photo credit.
- Register by sending an email to Susan at firstname.lastname@example.org stating what instrument you will play.
- Download sheet music.
- Download the guide video.
- Practice your part.
- Practice recording yourself.
- Join ZOOM rehearsals (optional).
- Record your video and send it (by link) to Susan at email@example.com.
Detailed Instructions and Hints:
1. If you intend to participate by submitting a video of yourself playing your part, please register by sending an email to Susan at firstname.lastname@example.org stating what instrument you will play. You may submit multiple videos playing different parts or instruments. If you wish to submit more than one performance, please tell me which will be your primary performance. Any other videos will only be used if there are openings in the orchestra. I will do my best to use everything you submit.
2. Download the music for your part(s) from the list below. This music has the cuts for this arrangement already made. Do not use sheet music directly from IMSLP – it is not the same.
3. Download and listen to the guide video (below). There are two versions of the guide video — one has a “click track” and the other does not. The clicks are claves playing along to give a strong beat. You may need the strong beat to practice, but you may find it distracting when you are recording. So a second guide video, without the claves, is also provided. Play along and learn your part until you are comfortable with having accomplished it. You should play the video at high definition (click HD in lower right of video window) and full screen in order to see the white gloves well. You may either play the guide video from this web page, or download the video to your own device. The preferred method is for you to download the guide video to your device so that you can play it locally without any risk of “buffering” interruptions.
4. Practice your part both with and without the guide video. The guide videos show white gloves conducting. This is to help you “see” the beat as well as hear the guide track. Try to place your smart device that is playing the guide video just slightly above your sheet music so that you can see the conductor with your peripheral vision over the top of your music stand, just as you would in a real setting. The guide video starts with tuning pitch. When you practice, and when you make your recording, just record your tuning at the beginning. I may actually use your tuning sounds in the prelude of the final virtual performance. The music starts at 0:32. The white gloves give one measure lead in at the beginning. Then at the end of the harp cadenza, the white gloves give one measure lead in before the four measures (oom-pah-pah, oom-pah-pah, oom-pah-pah, oom-pah-pah) that are prelude to the famous horn trio chords. To help you with your practice, rehearsal marks occur at approximately the following times into the video:
- 0:00 Tuning notes
- 0:32 Beginning of the music
- 1:36 Rehearsal mark A’
- 1:52 Rehearsal mark C (There is no B.)
- 2:07 Rehearsal mark D
- 2:38 Rehearsal mark E
- 2:53 Rehearsal mark F
- 3:08 Rehearsal mark G
- 3:31 Rehearsal mark I (There is no H.)
- 4:00 36 measures before Rehearsal mark K (There is no J)
- 4:33 Rehearsal mark K
- 4:48 Rehearsal mark L
- 5:10 End
5. Practice recording yourself. The setup you will need is two smart devices and a set of headphones or earbuds. Set up one smart device (usually a laptop, tablet, or iPad) to play the guide video through your headphones. Play along with the guide video while you record yourself on a second smart device (usually a smart phone). It is necessary for all players to record the piece from beginning to end, even those players who have multi-measure rests. In this sense, it is like playing a real concert where you must sit through the whole piece, not just your part. Record in MP4 format. Please record in LANDSCAPE mode. Please show your face and your instrument with your hands playing as appropriate. Most smart phones do MP4 automatically when you record video with them. If you are at all unsure about your video, record a very short one (20 seconds) and send it to email@example.com to check before you put a lot of time into it. I can work with many video formats, sizes and shapes, but it will save me TONS of time if you choose these options, if you have them:
- MP4 format
- Size 1920 x 1080
- LANDSCAPE (horizontal) orientation
6. Catherine Holbrook of ASO, York, UK, will be providing ZOOM rehearsals to assist with your practice (Thursdays from 11 am to 1 pm CA time: 7 – 9 pm York time) . Holly MacDonell will lead string sectional rehearsals on ZOOM (Saturdays 10 am – Noon). These rehearsals are planned for late January and all of February. If you sign up to participate in this project, you will receive email invitations to these rehearsals. While these rehearsals are optional, the ones we had for the previous project led by Catherine really helped to make us all feel connected. They created a strong sense of community around the project, and have forged lasting bonds between the two ASO orchestras.
7. Record your video and send it to me when you are satisfied you have done your best. Videos will be accepted only until March 30, 2021. Submit only your best effort. Video files are very large, so what you will be doing is sending me a link to whatever cloud based storage album you have for videos on your phone. From the link I should be able to download your video to use. I am hoping for a very colorful video performance as a final product. So, please wear clear bright solid colors and use clear bright complementary solid color in your background. If you record multiple parts, please wear a different color for each part. While you might be tempted to use vivid floral patterns in either your clothing or background, I suggest you avoid any busy patterns as they will just look like mud at the small image size that will be the ultimate product of your video. Make sure that your face and instrument are well lighted. Avoid recording with a window behind you. Even sunlight filtered through curtains will be bright enough to obscure your features. If you must record with a window behind you, close the curtains and record at night with supplementary interior lighting. Make your background plain and uncluttered. But in the spirit of the project, include a vase of flowers if you have it, or wear flowers in your hair or on your lapel. And when you are not playing, look at the camera and smile!
Try to keep extraneous noises to a minimum in your recording. The noises I had to deal with in the previous video included barking dogs, squeaky and rattling valves, clacking of rings and other jewelry against instruments, and noisy and awkward page turns. So, whenever possible, record in a room with the doors and windows closed. Oil your valves and make sure your instrument is in otherwise good (silent) repair and adjustment. Take off rings and other jewelry that might knock against your instrument or music stand. Try to have the music opened out completely so that you won’t make page turn noises or distracting movements. Your smart phone has adequate sound recording for our purposes. You don’t need special microphones or sound equipment. But you do need to control extraneous sound. And you do need to have the phone’s microphone within about 6 feet of your instrument to give me the flexibility I need when I am adjusting your volume later.
If you need technical assistance, call me, Susan, at 707-768-1975. If all else fails, when you are ready, you can come to my house and use my setup to record. There is an instructional video located below. It may be helpful in creating a setup that will work for you.
The preferred method of listening to the guide videos is to download them to your own smart device to play them locally to prevent “buffering” errors in playback. You may download them from these links:
OR you may play them directly from here: (Be alert for buffering errors.)
About the piece and technique:
Waltz of the Flowers is considered to be the most well-loved movement from the traditional Christmas classic, Nutcracker Suite. Here, we will be using it, as many have before, as a celebration of spring. We hope that the lush opulence of the music as we perform it, combined with the best images we can offer of the flowers we have known and loved, will provide a feast for the ears and eyes and lift the spirits of all with whom we share it.
The arrangement we are using for this virtual performance is original to ASO. We have used copyright free sheet music, score, and MP3 recording from the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP) / Petrucci Music Library as the basis for this arrangement. All source materials are in the Creative Commons and are provided free of copyright restrictions or fees by WikiMedia. The recording used to make the guide video was made by the DuPage Symphony Orchestra, Barbara Schubert, Conductor (Performed December 12, 2010, Wentz Concert Hall, Naperville, Illinois). The original piece was about 7 minutes long in performance. This arrangement cuts many redundant portions, without cutting any unique parts. The sheet music as it appears below has all the cuts made. The recording was cut for the guide video using Adobe Premier Pro so that it matches the score and parts.
I have tried to give you as many clues as possible within the guide videos so that everyone will be in synchrony. This music does not have a completely steady beat throughout like the Sandpaper Ballet we just did, so it is of great importance that you follow the white gloves as they will reflect the rubato portions and the ritardendos. And if you think of flowers whirling and twirling, rising and falling to the waltz tempo while you are playing, you will relay the feel of this piece in your performance. (But, if you sway while you are playing, try not to sway out of the frame! Remember, I will be cropping your video.)
December 18, 2020: We have completed the Sandpaper Ballet project. I hope this video will bring a smile to your face. Our video is not perfect. But it does reflect the true strengths and weaknesses of ASO. It is refreshing to see that technology does not obscure the characteristics of our precious community orchestra. I hope you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed making it.
Watch it from here:
Or download it from this link: