For the first time in 'Iolani Spring musical history, a student conductor led the orchestra in a school production. 'Iolani senior Daniel Ferrer served as the link between the music and the actors in the beloved classic, “The Sound of Music.” Conducting is no easy feat, as it is required to understand and learn a 200-page musical score, have a highly trained ear and sense of tempo, and the ability to play the piano and sing.
Manny Dayao, ‘Iolani’s Performing Arts band director, commented on having a student conductor saying, “It’s definitely more risky, and the process is a lot more work, but if it was 50 percent more work to train and mentor Daniel, it was also 100 percent more rewarding.” Backing up Ferrer and the actors were several musicians in the orchestra pit who put in much time and dedication to bring the audience a superb performance.
In February, the members of the pit began preparing and practicing for the Spring Musical. During 1 1/2 -hour practices, twice a week, the musicians rehearsed song after song for their show.
“Every single musician plays an essential part to the musical as a whole,” said cellist Aubrey Danko ‘20. “The effort that everyone has put into these performances is tremendous, but it’s worth it.” Being able to play the notes perfectly on their own is only one part of the work; playing together as a group and lining up the notes with the singers on stage is essential for a smooth performance.
Throughout the five weeks prior to the performances, the musicians met new people and gained new friendships.
“That’s one thing that I really love about playing in the pit -- meeting new people and solidifying the bond in our section,” said Danko.
In between rehearsals, the students enjoyed spending time with one other. During long bus rides from ‘Iolani to the theatre, eating dinner together underneath the stage, and singing along with their favorite musicals songs, the musicians established closer friendships. They have bonded over the “struggles” of the long practices and helped each other with the difficult sections of music.
Music can also be used to transition between scenes or signal a change on stage. While the actors might be singing the most memorable songs, the musicians hidden away in the pit are just as important.
“Songs are for the moments in a musical when mere dialogue can't express emotion or dramatic action enough; instrumentation and scoring help paint the mood,” said Dayao. “After all, how can the story and drama advance if it weren’t for the songs?”.