Production in Kansas City begins on the upcoming PBS Arts special “Homecoming: The Kansas City Symphony Presents Joyce DiDonato,” which airs July 20, 2012 as part of PBS Arts Summer Festival. Pictured: Mezzo-Soprano Joyce DiDonato with Frank Byrne, Exec. Director of the Kansas City Symphony.
Homecoming: Day 1
On a misty Wednesday morning, KCPT’s crew kicked off a week of production as Kansas City Symphony’s Executive Director Frank Byrne officially welcomed home, Mezzo Soprano and Prairie Village native, Joyce DiDonato. With umbrella in hand, Joyce exited her car to a welcoming entourage of cameras as she got her first official tour of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts - her “home” for the next several days.
Joyce, Maestro Michael Stern and the symphony’s new concert master Noah Geller led an afternoon of rehearsals in Helzberg Hall. These were just a tiny glimpse of what audiences have to look forward to this weekend when Joyce performs with the Kansas City Symphony (March 23 – 25) and KCPT captures it all for the upcoming PBS Arts special.
Although this weekend will be Joyce’s first performance at the Kauffman Center, she took the stage on Wednesday night (March 21) as part of the Symphony’s Master Class series. Students from UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, University of Kansas and Wichita State University got the rare opportunity to learn vocal technique from the recent Grammy winner.
But it wasn’t just the students who walked off stage in awe of the vocalist; she had the audience of over 900 people equally inspired. Joyce spoke to the crowd about the importance of the arts saying, “I’m so happy to see a resurgence and a focus on the arts [on Public Television] because I think there is a real hunger in this country and other place for this kind of experience. Something that is deep and real and something that shows us what we can be: bigger than ourselves. An opera, a symphonic work takes so many people and so much effort to bring it together.”
Homecoming: Day 2
On day two of KCPT’s filming of “Homecoming: The Kansas City Symphony Presents Joyce DiDonato”, the documentary team on the production crew filmed rehearsals and behind the scenes interviews. At the same time, a production crew devoted entirely to capturing the concerts worked on coordinating the taping of Saturday and Sunday’s performances. Coordinating the duties and shot lists of eleven different cameras is no easy task!
Homecoming: Day 3
On day three of the production of Homecoming: The Kansas City Symphony Presents Joyce DiDonato, the crew put the pedal to the metal, literally. In the morning, the 63 foot long HD production truck arrived at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and a crew of engineers worked all day to pull about 7000 feet of cable from the truck, through the belly of the Kauffman to Helzberg Hall, where eleven cameras will capture the KC Symphony and DiDonato’s performance. About mid-day the Symphony and DiDonato did their final rehearsal before Friday evening’s performance. Adjustments to lighting design, camera placement and audio were also refined.
Homecoming: Day 4 and 5
During the final two days 0f taping, the major focus was capturing the Saturday evening and Sunday matinee performances. After the Saturday evening concert, producers worked into the early hours of the morning analyzing the shots captured by all eleven cameras and then updating the shot list and plan of attack for Sunday, which was the final opportunity to capture any missing shots.
In addition, during Sunday’s concert there was a short “patch performance”, where the KC Symphony and DiDonato re-did a few measures to ensure that not so much a cough from the audience would detract from the taping. After Sunday’s performance, KCPT’s engineering and production worked feverishly to load out all the cameras, the 7000 feet of cable and get the HD truck ready to go in just few hours. During pack-up part of the documentary crew followed Joyce DiDonato back to her loft to capture a special family celebration of the monumental weekend. The family shared Jack Stack BBQ and Joyce showed us the amazing view of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts from her window.