Arnie Roth Interview: Conductor of Symphonic Shades (August 2008)

Across the next few weeks, we will publish a series of English translations of interviews with those involved with Symphonic Shades - Huelsbeck in Concert. The German versions of the interviews can be read at the official website for the concert.

Arnie Roth is an award-winning conductor known for his work with popular artists and Final Fantasy concerts. He will conduct the WDR Radio Orchestra for Symphonic Shades.

Interview Content

Q: Mr Roth, many people wonder what a conductor is actually doing. Could you please explain what your role is in a project such as Symphonic Shades?

A: The orchestra will be reading new scores with 'virgin' printing and copies of brand new orchestrations and arrangements, never performed before. So one basic factor that I must do is in helping the musicians learn the actual notes and passagework and mastering any technical difficulties in these scores, the aspect of illuminating the musical intent. As music director and conductor it is my responsibility manage the pacing of the rehearsals and preparation of the materials. I also work up to top performance shape all of the basic building blocks we use on every concert come into focus including tempo, delineating the structures of the music, intonation, perfecting the passagework, orchestra ensemble difficulties, etc.

Q: How much time do you usually spend preparing yourself for a video game music concert?

A: This varies of course, and it goes without saying that if it is a collection of scores that I have performed many times before it will need less preparation time to be ready. In the case of a completely new program with new scores to prepare, as in the case of Symphonic Shades, of course this requires much more preparation time, especially as there are other aspects to the performance to incorporate such as choir, piano solo accompaniment, percussion soloist, etc. It's difficult to give you an actual amount of hours, but suffice it to say that it entails many hours a week leading up to the rehearsal and performance week.

Q: You have seen the scores for Symphonic Shades now. Would you mind telling us what you think about them?

A: They are all very well orchestrated and arranged, and of course I have some experience conducting scores orchestrated by some of the these same arrangers/orchestrators, so I am familiar with their abilities and techniques. No matter who the orchestrator or arranger is on any of the scores, however, they still have a common goal of presenting the music as the composer intended, so any new twists and turns they introduce must not take away from the main musical ideas in Chris Huelsbeck's original works.

Q: Could you tell us please what you think is the most difficult title to perform, and why?

A: Certainly there are some scores, such as Turrican II - The Final Fight, which involve very difficult and extensive coordination between the piano soloist (playing a very tough solo!) and the the orchestra. I believe this score stands out as one of the most difficult and challenging that I have done for a video game concert.

Q: What is your most favorite piece, and why?

A: I am currently (as we say in the business) "too close" to all of the scores at the moment to pick one favorite. It may be easier after we have doen a few rehearsals perhaps. That's part of the excitement and preparation of this concert and I'm certainly looking forward to putting all of these scores together this week with the WDR!

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