Music Beneath the Stage; Curtain’s Pit Orchestra


Laila Shekarchian

This semester, Grandview’s performing arts department worked to prepare its fall musical, Curtains, but most of the work done beneath the stage is overlooked. 

“I’ve played in many musicals […] we are providing something that is not always seen, so maybe people don’t know to appreciate it as much,” this year’s pit conductor, Mrs. Loewen said.

A great deal of work and time goes into preparing the musical each year. With rehearsals several times a week, musicians must be committed.

“If you’re not willing to give 100% of your effort and your time, don’t audition,” sophomore violinist, Lydia King said. “Pit is very demanding, it’ll be really fun if you’re into it but if you’re not really into it I don’t think it’ll be worth it.”

According to King, this year’s score is more complex than others because there aren’t written-in parts for string musicians. 

“I’m on oboe, english horn, flute one, flute two, and clarinet. We have to piece it together and we have to tape stuff in and transpose stuff,” King said. “It’s been interesting and a lot of extra work, but in the end it’s really fun.”

Along with learning their parts and working with the orchestra, pit musicians have to work with actors and tech crew to bring all aspects of the show together. 

“I think the hardest part is putting it all together at the same time of everything,” Loewen said. “There’s pacing the stage on set, the actors singing with us, but, that’s the job of the conductor, you have to bring it all together and make it magical.”

Although it’s difficult to perform with a live pit orchestra, it brings something to the show that a recording can’t. 

“You can do all kinds of things with live music that you can’t do with just a recording,” Mr. Farmer, who has conducted the pit in past years, said. “We’re doing it with this show when they have to do something different with choreography, they need us to do a repeat here or there, we can do that.”

Even though they work incredibly hard to be part of the show, pit musicians don’t always feel that they get enough credit for all that they do. 

“They deserve more,” Loewen said. “But, when you’re not noticed, it’s a good pit because you’re not in the way.”

Similarly, Farmer shared his thoughts on the recognition musicians get.

“You’re not gonna be seen on stage, you’re not gonna have the accolades the lead stage person is having, but you have just as big an effect on the show and your recognition comes from knowing that you did something really special and that you were part of that,” Farmer said. 

Playing in the pit is a lot of work, but the product makes it all worthwhile. 

“It’s stressful when you have homework […] and you have to eat and sleep and also do school on top of that, but then at the same time it’s worth it,” King said. “It’s so fulfilling at the end to get to be in the whole show with all the people.”