SPRINGFIELD — People who come to the symphony hall will soon see molten metal, stamping machines and truck-building. But the structure is not being converted — it is hosting a multimedia concert that salutes America’s manufacturers.
The Springfield Symphony Orchestra concerts will feature a program of modern American music while images of two dozen manufacturers play out on screens above the orchestra in this western Ohio city.
Titled “American Made: The Art of Manufacturing,” the concerts at Kuss Auditorium on Saturday and Sunday will feature the likes of composers Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, John Williams and John Corigliano, who won an Oscar in 1999 for his score to “The Red Violin.” With the footage flashing overhead, the music will seem more like a movie soundtrack.
The idea for “American Made” came from a similar multimedia concert, “Agriculture and the Arts,” held in 2005 to celebrate the family farmer.
“Anything that can create access for our audience,” said conductor Peter Stafford Wilson. “If it’s something that heightens the enjoyment of the musical process, I’m for it.”
If the maestro has any qualms, he says it’s that American audiences increasingly need to be coaxed with visual aids.
“We’re into shock and awe, and a symphony orchestra has a real tough time competing with that,” he said.
Images being flashed on multiple screens will include both video and still photos, said David Deitrick, executive director of the symphony.
Crews from The Now Device, a Seattle-based company, made six trips to Springfield in seven months to shoot more than 350 hours of video footage at local manufacturers.
“This is definitely the largest and most complicated show we’ve done,” said Scott James, co-founder of the company.
James encountered some challenges in shooting the footage. For example, he wasn’t prepared for the stamping machine.
“You put your tripod down and it jumps,” he said. “I thought a truck just hit the building. Those things are pretty aggressive. Very musical, actually.”
He was most impressed with operations at Springfield’s O.S. Kelly Co., which makes castings.
“Seeing these guys working with molten metal in the middle of the night was pretty cool,” he said.