As with many industries deemed “nonessential,” music and live entertainment have been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. So, local composer Shie Rozow decided to bring the music to people at home.
“One day, the Earth stopped spinning, and overnight, everything came to a grinding halt,” said Rozow, a composer and music editor who has been in the film and television business for 20 years. “There’s a lot of players who make a decent living doing live concerts, recitals (and) sessions here and there, and the rug just got completely pulled out from under them.”
While residents remain “Safer at Home,” all live gigs and recordings have shut down, leaving many musicians out of work.
That’s when the Santa Clarita resident decided to do something to lift everyone’s spirits.
“I (was) sitting at home, going, ‘What do I do?’” Rozow said. “I’m not a doctor, first responder (or) scientist. … I’m the court jester, the entertainment.”
So, he decided to do what he knows best: create a musical arrangement, mashing two well-known songs with relevant messages, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “What a Wonderful World.”
“And then I thought, I’ve seen people do these cool little videos where a handful of people come together remotely,” he said. “I’ll do one of those, and I’ll see if I can get a few people to just help sweeten my MIDI-mock-up … And the response from the musician community blew my mind to the point where I had to start telling people they can’t be on it because I have too many.”
What went from a simple video with a dozen musicians quickly turned into what Rozow later called a “mammoth task.”
“Including myself and my cute little son at the very end, it was us and 80 other musicians,” he said.
Most are professional musicians, including the likes of Matt Malley, founding member and bass player from Counting Crows, John Hatton, an upright bass player with the Brian Setzer Orchestra, Tina Guo, a cellist who works very closely with Hans Zimmer, and MB Gordy, a Grammy-winning drummer with Opium Moon, to name a few.
Word spread and Rozow soon started getting submissions, many from musicians he knew, as well as others he didn’t.
Though he originally anticipated simply making his “fake” music sound a bit better, he ended up getting enough submissions to make the entire piece a live, musical performance. “We had 82 musicians provide 136 tracks, so what you’re hearing is the equivalent of a full symphonic orchestra, rhythm section and choir.”
He then enlisted the help of Pam March, a friend and professional picture editor, to create the video, which in itself was a task, as each video submission had to be converted and standardized, then synced to the audio.
In total, the project took Rozow somewhere between 150 and 200 hours over the span of two and a half weeks, while March contributed about 100 hours herself as well.
“It just grew so much more than we both anticipated it would be,” he said. “I mean, I was obsessed with it.”
The project ended up being more for Rozow than he anticipated, while reactions to the final product have been overwhelming, he said.
“What we do I think is meaningful and helpful,” he added. “Five minutes of distraction and hearing a couple of songs put together in a really nice way, especially these iconic, beautiful songs that are very emotional, it might make somebody feel a little bit better for a few minutes or maybe it’ll linger a little bit longer. That matters.”
The video is now being used to raise funds for Motion Picture and Television Fund, a nonprofit that offers assistance and care to those in the motion picture and television industries and is currently assisting those struggling due to COVID-19.
“I just want to get this out to as many people as possible and try to make them feel good for a few minutes, and If I can raise a few more dollars for MPTF even better,” Rozow added. “Those of us who can, now’s the time to do for others.”