The rehearsal for Strathmore’s biggest production of the 2016-2017 season is going smoothly—for the most part. During a break between movements, conductor William Eddins chastises the choir for seeming distracted. “Tomorrow,” he says, “I want all eyes on me.”
Conductor William Eddins is one of the key players in Strathmore’s most ambitious production of the 2016-2017 season All Rise.
During the show, most eyes will be on Wynton Marsalis, the famed trumpeter and composer who wrote the jazz symphony All Rise, the most complicated and expensive of 47 productions Strathmore will put on this season. The show includes the 15-piece Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, 62 musicians from the National Philharmonic, 10 soloists from New York’s Chorale Le Chateau and a 135-person choir with singers from Baltimore’s Morgan State University and the Choral Arts Society of Washington. Then there are the dozens of people who are responsible for planning—from the size of the orchestra and choir to how they’ll all fit onstage—and logistics, like keeping track of sheet music and shuttling performers around North Bethesda.
The two shows, both sold out on a Friday night and Sunday afternoon in February, have been 15 months in the making. On the Tuesday before, Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra arrived from New York; the musicians stayed at the Cambria Hotel & Suites in Rockville. That morning, a truck delivered their instruments, microphones and black suits. Several days earlier, 100 pounds of sheet music made its way via FedEx from New York to Strathmore. In the concert hall, lead stage technician William Kassman, who has worked at the music center since it opened in 2005, has added platforms where the musicians will play. He has pushed a black Steinway Model D grand piano onto an industrial equipment elevator that took it to the stage level. He has arranged chairs and music stands, and moved risers into place.