What it’s like to be in Pit Orchestra

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What it’s like to be in Pit Orchestra

The cast of Bye Bye Birdie practiced with the pit orchestra for the first time on Feb. 14.

The cast of Bye Bye Birdie practiced with the pit orchestra for the first time on Feb. 14.

Photo by Valerie Lombogia

The cast of Bye Bye Birdie practiced with the pit orchestra for the first time on Feb. 14.

Photo by Valerie Lombogia

Photo by Valerie Lombogia

The cast of Bye Bye Birdie practiced with the pit orchestra for the first time on Feb. 14.

Chris Tekavec, Staff Writer

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Few people even realize the orchestra is there. They just assume that it’s music is playing over the speakers. For conductor and teacher Tim Libby, if people don’t notice the pit, that’s one sign of success.
“The better the pit orchestra sounds, the more people think its a recording,” he said.
The pit orchestra is a very exclusive and selective group, as they only perform once a year. Their goal is to perfectly perform the music each night for this year’s musical, Bye Bye Birdie.
“Who gets into pit orchestra depends on what instruments that particular musical needs. Everyone is different,” Libby said.“It is hard to get in. It’s very selective.”
“I wasn’t actually planning on doing it, and then Mr. Libby said they needed a bass player,” Senior Paul Nicknish said.
Filling the few slots available, 28 for this year, is often made difficult by the large number of applicants.
“There’s a lot of people that want to do it because it’s a unique experience,” Nicknish said.
While some Broadway musicals have their orchestras playing in separate off site locations, Libby is committed to keeping the orchestra in the room.
“There’s something about having the interaction and the energy with the musicians there in the room than off site,” he said.
To perfect the music, students must practice on their own time and with the orchestra as a group before eventually adding the cast.
“The big thing is getting the big picture down so when we get together with the cast it runs smoothly,” Nicknish said.
Many of the members of the pit orchestra also play in other bands and orchestras, but they say there is extra stress for playing in the pit.
“For the pit, it’s just more pressure because everyone can hear,” Junior Anthony Singer said.
The pit has a few scenes where they don’t play anything. Since they are at the front of the theater, they must be quiet, so they don’t disrupt the performance. During these scenes, they are usually engaged and quiet, according to Libby.
“There are some shenanigans that might happen down there, but for the most part that’s when we get to watch the shows,” he said.
The spring musical, Bye Bye Birdie, opens Feb. 28 and shows through March 3.

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