By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
“All of these shows are put together in one rehearsal,” she says. “And sometimes we don’t even use up the whole three hours!” She laughs. “Most of the time, our lines are pretty much background music, and we have fairly easy parts. When I received the violin parts to the Bright Eyes, I suggested to the librarian to get tempo markings, metronome markings, from the orchestrator from the band, because I need to know how fast it should go, so that we have the right bowing.
“The key for us is to have a conductor who really knows how to work with us, give us the right cues, because we don’t know the music. Sometimes we have a vamp, where they just go on, where they talk or where they sing, and we need good instructions on where we should come in, how fast we should play. If we have a very good conductor, it’s no problem for us at all.”
The L.A. Phil players have been blessed to work under no doubt the most rhythmically adept conductor on the planet, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and this has been excellent preparation for the orchestra’s collaborations with the beat-heavy bands at the Bowl.
“Salonen’s rhythm technique is the greatest I’ve ever seen,” Wang says. “And this really affects the orchestra. The articulation is really good; we have good, sharp rhythm, especially where we have to interpret music written in the 20th century, or written by living composers, because they very often write very complicated rhythms. Now when I’m listening to somebody play, I have a higher rhythmical expectation — I want it to be more accurate and clean.”
She says to offset the roar from the electric band onstage at the Bowl, the orchestra indulges in a little audio trickery, such as employing individual mikes clipped behind the bridges on the stringed instruments; the winds are miked very close to the instrument, and the sound engineer adjusts and shapes the sound from their combined output.
“These shows can be on the louder side,” she says. “We have to put baffles around the drum set, just to block some of the sound out. [Laughs.] Sometimes we have to wear earplugs; I don’t particularly want to be seen wearing earplugs onstage, but it could be very loud, sitting next to these musicians, and we cannot hear ourselves so well.”
To best fit the rhythms and dynamics of the electric band, Wang says the orchestra makes small adjustments in its playing style as well.
“Some conductors like to conduct ahead of the music, so symphonic musicians tend to play after the beat,” she says. “With them [the electric band], I know they’re spot-on, so we have to be more on the beat, or we just hear the drum set really ahead of us all the time. And sometimes, because we need to swing a little bit or we need to do this or that, we react accordingly.
“And when everything else is louder, we definitely play louder!”
Bright Eyes performs with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl on Sat., Sept. 29.