MRU in tune with Opening Ceremony
All eyes — and in Mount Royal’s case all ears — will be on Vancouver for the official start of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Alumni Dave Pierce and Donovan Seidle are the music director and associate music director for the Opening Ceremony.
For the past six months, the Mount Royal Conservatory graduates have been creating, recording and sequencing the musical cues that will accompany all of the pageantry of the Opening Ceremony.
“You can expect top-notch music, great guest talent, thrilling visuals and an Olympic Ceremony ride like none other,” says Seidle, associate music director. “I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the audience’s reaction — in fact, I can’t even wait to see the show in rehearsal!”
Music Director Dave Pierce adds, “You’ll hear that classic ‘Olympic sound,’ but I’ve been working with a new concept that’s more contemporary and collaborative than ever before — by mixing symphonic music with guitars, indigenous instruments and vocals I’m trying to create a new experience for the Olympic listener.”
Expectations couldn’t be higher for the event that will act as the official kick-off to the Games on Feb. 12. In fact, an audience of three billion viewers worldwide is expected to tune in.
Seidle, a veteran performer, assistant concertmaster with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, and featured member of the world’s first online symphony appears unfazed by the expectations resting on the shoulders of the Ceremony’s musical team.
“My role as associate music director is multi-faceted. My tasks involve everything from arranging and composing, to helping record, mix and edit all of the music we’ve been put in charge of producing.
“In a typical day, I’ll talk with our other composers, arrangers and copyists, and develop scopes to detail their involvement. From the beginning of the project, I didn’t quite know what to expect … I never quite know what the next day will hold!”
Just another day at the office
For Pierce, whose resume includes mega projects like the Calgary Stampede Grandstand Show, the Gemini Awards, and national Broadway Tours, the grand scale of the Olympics Ceremony is all in a day’s work — albeit a very long and complicated day.
“I love the mantra that everyday should feel like Saturday. I love to work and never tire of the long days — a typical day for the last two months has held steady at 16 hours in the recording studio producing, conducting orchestras or mixing music.
“But the days when you feel that you’ve hit gold with your ideas make everyday worthwhile. Really, it’s like toning a muscle, if you stop even for a day you fall out of shape pretty quickly,” Pierce says.
Surrounding yourself with some of the world’s best talent doesn’t hurt either.
“The niche of working on large scale productions is so small that many of the same personnel move from one production to another,” says Pierce, “As the shows get larger and larger I’ve been lucky to pick up amazing experiences that have helped shape my skill-set along the way. It’s a little like a working University!”
Partners in crime
Seidle and Pierce’s working relationship first formed through many hours of practice and study at the Conservatory, where both were members of the Academy program and both performed in the Calgary Fiddlers.
Seidle is quick to acknowledge the unique musical synergy the pair has developed.
“Dave has brought me onto many of his projects to assist on and contribute to — we work well together,” Seidle says.
And for Pierce, Seidle is the foil to his own creativity.
Pierce marvels, “When we first started working together, Donovan would e-mail me fixes or adjustments to my scores and I’d open the file, look in amazement and think, ‘how does this guy know the way I think?’ ”
Dare to dream
For two musicians at the top of their game, both are remarkably down to earth, paying forward their good fortune to those who have guided them along their way as well as offering warm advice for the next generation of young musicians.
“Follow your heart,” advises Pierce. “As cliche as it sounds, it’s so very true. Music is an elusive career to pursue and many times it’s the key to try everything until you find that magic moment where it feels like you can’t imagine living a day without creating something.”
And those aren’t just empty words — Pierce has been following his own advice for the past two decades, chasing his dream to showcase his compositions on the Olympic world stage.
“In 1988 I was on the sidelines of the Olympics in Calgary and was so moved by the role music played at the event that I made a life decision — should the Olympics ever come back to Canada, I wanted to be the guy responsible for the music.
“For the last 22 years, every project I've worked on has had to meet the criteria that it further honed my skills to be ready for the Olympics.”
— James Bailey, Feb. 3, 2010