BBC Proms: Trying to ‘fix’ things

Posted on May 9, 2010

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There’s a job I used to do – orchestral management – which sounds like you’re the centre of the universe but which actually means you’re the one who has to organise everything. The one who has to make sure the right people are at the right place at the right time. That the appropriate paperwork is completed. That all the necessary factors have been thought about. That everything is just so.

It’s the worst job in the world.

It’s that job I’m reminded of as I look at the progress of the Sondheim Mashup video for the BBC Proms website. I said I’d be transparent about this. I want to present the reality of it all.

Just to recap, this project is about getting a representative group of musicians from all the BBC’s orchestras (and the Ulster band) to do a web-version of the ‘live linkup’ you see during the Last Night Of The Proms. The resulting performances of an obscure Sondheim song will be edited together into a mashup video.

In reality this means dealing with a total of 24 separate contributors, sourced via (in theory) one marketing representative in each band who may or may not in turn have outsourced the recruitment of said contributors to other orchestral representatives.

At this moment in time, I’m not expecting to have reached the “track sent” stage with anyone. I’m delighted to have got a list of names from two bands and got some dates pencilled in too.

But it would be fair to say that the joy is bleeding from this project as it stands. Whilst the enthusiasm of the two relatively ‘firmed up’ bands is heartening, I’m feeling like the trail may well have gone cold with one. And, given that the original pitch was that all the BBC bands were involved, I’m wondering whether not having one involved is either a problem or indeed a driver to pull the entire thing. My enthusiasm wanes the more I think about the number of different dependencies involved (a symptom of having to pull in other contributors) and the risks associated accordingly.

And yet there’s another thing to bear in mind. Peter Faint – arranger extraordinaire – is working on the track. The delivery date is set at May 16. It’s too late to pull him – he’d be out of pocket.

So, I have to plough on and hope that at some point soon the enthusiasm gets fired up again. Because it is that very enthusiasm on which the success of the finished product relies upon.

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