Shoals Symphony brings pirates to university

Hoist ye sails and set a course for Norton Auditorium Feb. 26: Pirates are coming.

Shoals Symphony at UNA presents Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” live beginning at 7:30 p.m. Audience members will watch the full-length film on a giant screen while the Shoals Symphony Orchestra, a group of more than 70 musicians, and sections of the UNA Collegiate Singers and Chamber Choir perform the soundtrack.

Tickets are $15 — $25 for adults and $5 for students and children 12 and under. The most expensive seats are center floor seats.

The production has already sold more than 1,300 tickets, said Associate Professor of Music and Music Director of the Shoals Symphony at UNA Daniel Stevens. A sell out of 1,650 tickets is possible.

University Program Council and the Office of Student Engagement provided 200 free student ticket vouchers Jan. 13 — Feb. 5.

There are many people involved in the production of this show, Stevens said.

“Our musicians range from upper amateur through professionals,” he said. “They lift each other up, and the quality continues to improve.”

Rehearsing for this production has been interesting, said Director of Choral Activities Ian Loeppky.

“The score for this movie basically treats the voices as another set of instruments,” he said. “They never sing any words.”

Others involved include Buena Vista Concerts and Disney Music Group who contracted the show and a video engineer from iMusicImage, Inc. who will fly in from California to run the show.

Local technical company Sutherland Sight and Sound will bring in the big screen and speakers and help run the sound, Stevens said.

“It is quite the project,” he said. “This is my first time conducting something quite of this magnitude.”

The symphony has to be constantly focused, said senior and viola player Miranda McAfee.

“We could be playing something slow and melodic and immediately change into something fast and exciting, all in a few seconds,” she said.

Most people think when they go to a symphony production, they are going to sit there and listen to Mozart, said junior and French horn player Victoria Roose.

“I’m really excited about the show,” she said. “It’s a contemporary twist on a more traditional concert.”

This will be the symphony’s first glimpse of what a professional production is like, Stevens said.

Professional musicians typically only have a few days to learn the music before performing, he said.

The symphony musicians received the music in January and began rehearsing once a week for the 2 1/2 hour show, he said.

This has been a learning experience, Stevens said. Most of the symphony’s concerts are only about an hour long, and there is time to break down parts and give extra instruction. A production of this level does not allow time for that.

“When our rehearsal is usually 2 1/2 hours long, and it’s a 2 1/2 hour show, there really isn’t much rehearsing going on where you’re teaching anything to them,” he said. “You’re not working parts or rhythm because you just have enough time to run it.”

The choral groups started practicing last month as well, Loeppky said.

While the music is not difficult to learn, timing the voices and instruments to what is happening with the soundtrack is, he said.

“There’s absolutely no room for error,” he said.

McAfee said there is a lot going on all at once.

“It’s a completely different experience than any of us have ever had playing for the symphony before,” she said. “We have this giant screen behind us with the movie playing and the dialogue going. We can’t be distracted by that while we’re playing.”

For ticket information, visit the Shoals Symphony website or call 765-5122.

Editor’s Note: Thomas Parker, Melissa Parker’s son, is participating in the performance.