Everyone has a bucket list. We’ve been so fortunate in the Sugar Free Allstars to have already crossed many of the things off on our list – perform in Europe, meet some of our favorite musicians, tour across the country… Then there are those things that aren’t on the bucket list, nor even on a wish list of any kind, because the chances of them happening are so remote that it doesn’t even enter your conscious mind. Crazy things like, oh I don’t know, performing your own music with a symphony orchestra…….oh wait, we got to do that!!!
Okay, in all fairness we’ve always kind of thought it would be pretty cool to perform with an orchestra, I mean, who wouldn’t want to experience that? But you don’t really think it’s going to happen. So how did it? Well to make a long story short here’s how it all began. First we met a guy that works for the OKC Philharmonic at a show we’re playing for the OKC Museum of Art; he loves the idea of us playing with the orchestra and passes the idea along. Then we hire a woman who plays in the OKC Phil to do some violin parts on our most recent album, she also loves the idea of us playing with the orchestra and passes the idea along. Next thing you know we’re setting up a meeting with the organization’s executive director and when we show up there are SIX staff members in attendance, excited that we are there, listening intently to what we have to say, writing things down and in general TAKING THIS WHOLE THING VERY SERIOUSLY…….at this point the reality of this performance is actually starting to sink in……holy moly…..this is really going to happen.
After some of the initial details are worked out we take a few days figuring out a set list….I mean here is a chance to have some of our songs arranged for a symphony orchestra so it was important to pick songs that we thought would benefit and be enhanced by orchestral arranging. We settle on a mix of: a couple of tunes we do on a regular basis, along with a few that aren’t performed as often, and one that we had never performed live. Our good friend and fellow Okie who now lives in Brooklyn was selected to arrange the orchestra’s parts and we spend several months discussing ideas with him, going back and forth, tweaking the orchestrations until they are just right. All the while we are keeping in contact with the Phil’s general manager and PR officer to coordinate logistics and promotions. It was definitely a unique experience spending months and months preparing for just one show as we are accustomed to playing several shows in a week, very often several shows in a day.
As the date for the show closes in we begin to do local TV spots, sign off on the arrangements, have final meetings with the general manager, arranger and conductor, select our wardrobe and polish our dance moves (you heard right, dance moves). Then the day arrives, we have promoted more heavily than ever before, invited everyone we knew and prepared in every way we could possibly think of. The morning of the show we have a 2 hour rehearsal with the orchestra (the only rehearsal we do with them……yikes!) and work out some last minute kinks. We relax for a couple of hours, have some lunch then it’s showtime. In the months since all the preparation began I always wondered if I would be nervous before the show. There was a moment when the overture began (yeah, we even had an overture – pretty sweet, huh?) that I got butterflies but they passed and it was replaced with excitement. From the moment we walked on the stage and had close to 1,000 people going nuts for us…it was on! Everything went pretty much exactly as it had played out in our heads, which is a very rare thing. The show could not have gone more smoothly, and from the beginning to the end of the concert I’m sure that everyone in the room that day would agree that it was a very special experience for all involved.
So there you have it, our first ever symphony show, what an amazing time it was. I proceeded to get sick the evening after the show, guess my body finally let down….just thankful it didn’t happen any sooner. We’re hopeful that we’ll be able to perform with a symphony again, but no matter how many times that may happen there will never again be a first time, it was truly a once in a lifetime event and I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to experience it from Behind the B3…….