Tought you guys would be interested in how MTT's documentary is coming along:
Capturing Ives' vibes
PBS documentary on Danbury composer employs Danbury, New Fairfield bands
By John Pirro
BETHEL -- The Danbury Brass Band stood at the top of the hill, prepared to march toward the camera and play "Columbia, Gem of the Ocean." A few hundred yards away, the Danbury High School Marching Band stood ready to perform "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."
Silence fell over the crowd as director Emma Cott of InCA Productions raised the loudspeaker to her lips to start the camera rolling.
Suddenly, from the nearby woods, a baby began crying. Not missing a beat, sound man Dan Gleisch deadpanned, "Wild babies were common in Ives' time," and spectators erupted in laughter.
It may be true that none of Charles Ives' musical compositions included a squalling infant as part of the score. Neither did the Danbury-born composer's creations incorporate the sound of aircraft flying overhead, although it's a fair bet that had jets existed when Ives was writing, he would have found a way to use them.
When television viewers tune in to the Public Broadcasting System's documentary on Ives scheduled to be aired in late 2009, neither babies' cries nor jet engines will be part of the soundtrack. But they were two of the distractions the film crew had to overcome when they turned part of Putnam Park into an outdoor recording studio Sunday afternoon.
What viewers will hear, and see are the two musical groups converging on each other while simultaneously paying two different patriotic marches in different keys and different tempos.
"Ives had this thing about two different bands," said tuba player Tom Griffin of East Haven, one of several musicians from around the state recruited to join the Danbury Brass Band for the session. "It's going to be quite unique because it's only going to be a minor second apart."
The sounds of two bands playing was one of the earliest musical influences imparted to Ives by his father, George, a former Civil War military band leader and a leading musician of his time.
Part of the documentary being filmed on Sunday dealt with Ives' early life. Danbury's Wooster Cemetery will be the set for an early film session today, when the New Fairfield High School Marching Band will play.
Trying to play one's own instrument while being serenaded by another band playing something else was a trick few of the musicians had previously encountered.
"It was hard to hear the drum line," said Danbury High trumpeter Mike Bovin. "Once you lose the drum line, the music just falls apart."
A crowd of about 50 people watched the filming. Some, like Wanda Bropleh, whose son, Nahba, a Newtown High School trumpeter playing with the Brass Band, came because they knew someone who was performing.
Others, like David Close of Wilton and his wife, Ann, of Wilton, just happened upon it.
"We came out with our granddaughter to see the museum. We didn't even know this was happening," Close said.
High school band director Nick Albano said his students probably wouldn't fully appreciate the experience until they see themselves on TV.
"Right now, standing around in full uniform for hours, I don't think they're feeling the excitement," Albano said.