Alabama School of Fine Arts premieres new virtual symphony

Entertainment

(Courtesy of the Alabama School of Performing Arts)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Working with over 50 musicians from the Alabama School of Fine Arts, Carlos Izcaray couldn’t help but notice how different each person was from the other.

Carlos Izcaray (Courtesy Taylor Campbell)

Izcaray, music director for the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, saw how no one student sounded the same, how they each had their own tastes and how they played differently from one another.

However, Izcaray also noticed how despite all those differences, they could come together to create beautiful music.

This is when he decided to write music that celebrated those differences, the same way different colors make a rainbow.

“I wanted to add everything there,” Izcaray said. “I didn’t want anyone to be left out.”

On Thursday, the school premiered the new piece, “Symphony of Colors,” on social media. Throughout the music, students wore different colored clothing to represent different passages in the symphony, as well as showcase different styles.

In one part, some students wore red as brass and horns played loud, energetic music. In another, students playing stringed instruments wore green as the music took on a softer tone.

“Each color was associated with a different mood,” said Izcaray, who cited Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” as inspiration for having different colors represent different musical themes.

Due to COVID-19 safety guidelines, Izcaray decided to have each player record themselves separately, whether on their phones or in a studio. Only later did he edit all the pieces together to create the finished symphony. From beginning to end, the process took about three months.

“It was very good teamwork,” he said.

Students at the Alabama School of Fine Arts playing a section of “Symphony of Colors” (Courtesy Alabama School of Performing Arts)

Anna Espinosa-Byrd, a senior who studies viola at ASFA, said that in the beginning, the recording process was somewhat frustrating.

“I would spend hours try to do video,” Espinosa-Byrd said. “It taught me a lot about recording because I had never recorded myself playing.”

Espinosa-Byrd said that while she prefers live performance, she did enjoy the way the recording of the symphony brought her and other musicians together.

“It was very motivating in kind of a good way to get something good out of the bad around us,” she said. “It was a nice way to remind ourselves that music is part of our lives and we are still able to make music together and enjoy making music together.”

For Izcaray, he understands how technology was one way for the music community to continue on when live performances were not an option. However, he feels like virtual performances will continue being an avenue for sharing music.

“Ultimately, it’s a technological expansion for the soul that wants to connect with others,” he said. “I see this as an addition to that.”

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