When I visited Pittsburgh this fall I had the great opportunity to spend a little time with Bob Lauver, hornist in the Pittsburgh Symphony.
I asked Bob how he got involved with the Symphony’s blog and video projects.
Bob: A couple of the staff approached me and asked if I would be interested in participating. They were looking for musician perspectives to include in the written blogs. I began to think that a video version could be fun and effective.
R: How do you decide what subject and how to approach it?
Bob: If there’s a vibe of something to talk about or make a video about, I do it. Just seeing YouTube made me realize there were a lot of interesting things being done through video that were creative and fun.
One of the first video blogs I did was Master Peter’s Puppet Show - a behind the scenes perspective seemed like a natural. Supporting the narrative with video scenes was easy:
Master Peter’s Puppet Show
What I’m doing is really a result of the YouTube culture. Exploring that world can really treat you to some hidden creativity. My daughter’s friends did a couple little videos and put them on YouTube. These little kids are so creative. They take the tiniest germ of an idea and turn it into something fun and entertaining. One of their videos was “Stuffed Justice.”
I want a project that is crying out to be done, not just a video representation of something we do. More like something that you might not see or hear us do……then I look for a way to present it. I’m getting better as I go along……learning to be a better storyteller. I’m exploring visual and sonic clues that help convey the story.
One project I did was an interview with Jean Laurendeau who was the Ondes Martenot soloist for Messaien’s Turangalila Symphony. Jim Rogers, a bassoonist in the orchestra was the other camera operator in my 1st two-camera video. We posted it on the PSO blog site and YouTube and it’s had over 19,000 views (that’s a lot for a video that doesn’t get “featured” by YouTube, or have some overt hook into everyday culture). A lot of those views are coming from the electronic music world.
We’ve also done a blog on the contrabass trombone in the Bartok Concerto for Orchestra. The videos I do are generally coupled with the concerts they go with and we use audio clips from that music. In the case of the Bartok, there was an interesting story about the actual instrument used and its history. This made an interesting hook to explore… “A Rare Beast”
R: Are you a ‘digital native’?
Bob: No, I have just enough knowledge to do it, but not enough to make it easily ‘pop.’ I don’t have that kind of fluency, but I wish I did. My first computer was an Atari - I played Galaga and Frogger and PacMan.
My brother in law worked at Pinnacle and sent me their Studio 8.0 software for editing. The administration gave me the nod of approval by providing a camera for my use.
R: Why do you do this?
Bob: I like to! It’s another expressive outlet. It’s good for the orchestra. The time demands are easy to manage because I can do most of the work of editing and putting the project together late at night when my kids have gone to bed and I like that.
I also like to do this kind of stuff because I think that it’s good for the people who come to see us to get a glimpse of the things that make us alike. I think that the video blog is another opportunity for us to connect with our public and relate on another level.
This allows the audience to know parts of another world. They come in and see everyone dressed in black behind the proscenium arch and that’s their perspective of the people in the orchestra. Sometimes they don’t realize that the PSO might go home and watch the Letterman show, catch the end of the Steelers game, or throw together some mac & cheese for the kids. With the blog, they get a chance to know a side of the members of the PSO that they don’t normally see. Hopefully I come up with a little humor or insight that makes the visit to the blog site worthwhile.
R: Visit Bob at the PSO blog to hear more of his stories and great perspective.