With tickets going quickly for the upcoming production of The Circle of Life, Kristofer Sanz, our Music Director, chats about the show's musical scores and rehearsing with his YAA orchestra. 


What is particularly challenging about the orchestral playing in this production?

Of all the shows that we've done at YAA, for the orchestra, this is probably the most difficult to date. First, because they're playing over two hours of material, which is of course fatiguing to stay concentrated for that long, even for a professional player. The other challenge is that, even though all of the material comes from a single lyricist, Sir Tim Rice, he's worked with so many different composers that it covers such a wide range of genres of music -- everything from symphonic music, to pop music, to hard rock music with a rock combo. So the orchestra needs to play a bit like a jukebox. You put a quarter in, and a new style pops out! All of the sounds have to be there perfectly at all times. So for the students to be able to accomplish that, it's challenging, especially because they're coming from a primarily symphonic background. 

And playing rock as an orchestra is always complex. With a wind and brass instrument it's a little easier, but with a string instrument, a violin for example, doesn't naturally fall into the type of articulations and sound that a rock band would make. So the students are learning a lot of new techniques to accomplished a unified sound.

Which of the genres do you like most when it comes to working with your orchestra?

For me, it's always the lush music! For example in this show, all the arrangements for Beauty and the Beast, the ones that are actually orchestrated for a full symphony, are really beautiful and sweeping. And having the well-trained kids that we do, those are the ones that they tend to gravitate toward the most in terms of wanting to dig into. But they also do like the rock 'n' roll material as well, when they get to sit back and be a rock musician on the flute for once in their lives!

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