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Behind the Scenes: The Magic of ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Live in Concert’ with Emily Marshall

Photo Credit: Susan Stripling

Author: Jorge Perez

Movies live in concert have become a trend, where a film is screened while its music is performed live. Currently, Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse Live in Concert is touring nationwide, featuring The Broadway Sinfonietta and DJ Damage. The original score, crafted by Daniel Pemberton, offers a fresh take on film music. I had the privilege of discussing the concert and its intricacies with conductor Emily Marshall.

Concerts of this nature elevate the traditional movie-watching experience by offering audiences an immersive blend of film and live music. As I spoke with Marshall, she highlighted that many attendees might be unsure of what to anticipate from such a unique format. Marshall’s aspiration is for younger audiences to gain a renewed appreciation for orchestral performances through this novel way of enjoying a movie. She envisions this as an evolving art form, aiming to seamlessly merge on-screen content with live music, creating a harmonious and captivating experience.

The Broadway Sinfonietta, a remarkable ensemble primarily made up of women of color, was established in 2020 under the Egyptian-American Orchestrator and Music Supervisor, Macy Schmidt. Discussing their participation in the concert, Marshall revealed that the musicians were meticulously selected after rigorous auditions. Some had previous affiliations with the Sinfonietta, while others were new additions from various parts of the country. Interestingly, Marshall’s association with Spider-Verse predates Sinfonietta’s involvement. She expressed her enthusiasm when the Sinfonietta joined the project, confident in the exceptional musical talent they would bring and aligning with their mission of increasing musical diversity.

A fascinating aspect of such concerts is the orchestra and film synchronization. Marshall uses a tablet-like device that cues her on when to start the music. “The way this works is we have a click track in our ears that matches the clicks so we can time out everything perfectly with what’s happening on the screen. I have in front of me a smaller screen with like a countdown and just like you would in a film scoring session. So I will hear clicks in my ears and the clicks are the signal to start the cue, to start the next song.” Having these devices helped make the concert flow smoothly, giving the audience an unofficial behind-the-scenes look into how the orchestra is in sync with the movie.

Into the Spiderverse stands out due to its groundbreaking animation and distinctive hip-hop-infused score, setting it apart from films that lean towards traditional orchestration. Marshall expressed her excitement for this novel concert format, where attendees experience a movie and a live concert. The film’s detailed animation and gripping narrative, combined with Pemberton’s score, create a harmonious cinematic experience. The music seamlessly weaves hip-hop elements with themes of resilience and heroism. Throughout the performance, Marshall emphasized staying true to Pemberton’s vision while infusing her own unique flair.

Given the scale of such a production, extensive rehearsals would likely be essential. Surprisingly, Marshall revealed, “We actually didn’t rehearse as much as you’d think. Most of the preparation was discussions and pre-production. The entire Sinfonietta only came together a few days before our debut performance. It was a swift yet seamless process.” This was astonishing, especially considering that the orchestra essentially sight-read the music. For those unfamiliar, sight-reading is when musicians perform a piece with minimal prior practice.

However, a venture of this magnitude is not without its challenges. Marshall reflected on the hurdles they faced, “I think it goes back to what I was saying in a previous question, which is just recreating what is meant to be like a studio recording. The audience kind of gets an inside look at how film scores are produced by attending this show. If you’re in the studio recording and you mess something up, you go back and you do it again and you re-record it and then you use the best take. In this case, we don’t go back and do it again. You know, we do it again the next day, but we have like one shot and we’re playing from the beginning of the show to the end of the show.” Being able to face these challenges really showed the ability of The Broadway Sinfonietta.

Photo Credit: Kendall McCargo

Discussing the challenges of maintaining a work-life balance, especially on tour, Marshall said,“I mean work-life balance, on the road especially, is difficult, but you have to figure out. I’ve toured a bunch before and a lot of the musicians and people on this tour have not.” Marshall emphasized the importance of delivering a fresh and energetic performance every time. Even though they perform the same show daily, for the audience, it’s a unique experience. It’s crucial for the performers to approach each show with the same enthusiasm and vigor as if it were their first time, ensuring that the audience always gets a memorable experience.

Just as most movie enthusiasts have a particular scene that deeply resonates with them, Marshall, too, has a favorite moment in the film. She is particularly fond of the “Daniel Danger” section, which she views as a pivotal redemption scene. The intensity of this scene is amplified on screen, and to match its power, they significantly increase their volume during this segment, adding to its impact.

Engaging in a conversation with Marshall about the show was an enlightening experience. Her insights and passion for the project were palpable, making the discussion truly memorable. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to delve deeper into the intricacies of the performance with her. For readers who share a similar enthusiasm for such artistic endeavors, please keep an eye out for Marshall’s future projects and support live performances. There’s a world of magic waiting to be explored!

If you’re eager to witness this concert and see Emily Marshall’s exceptional conducting in action, grab your tickets for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse Live in Concert now!

Check out Jorge’s review of the concert!

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