A lot of this blog is focused on my arranging career, largely because my composition projects are still tied up in NDAs. However, it is important to understand that, for many composers, arranging is not only an important skill to have in your toolbox; it is also an excellent way to diversify your professional opportunities.
For those of you unfamiliar with what an Arranger does, they basically translate a song, track or theme from one instrumentation to another. That’s a very basic definition and does Arrangers a bit of a disservice, though sometimes it is just that simple. Usually, though, an Arranger is tasked with making the chart not just idiomatic for the new instruments, but also fresh and unique, adding something that the previous version couldn’t actually accomplish in this new context. The transformation can be minor or major, depending on the wishes of whoever happens to be hiring you.
I have worked with the Colorado Symphony for many years now as an arranger for hire, and every time it is a special experience. I’ve written orchestral accompaniment for Jazz Bands, Rock Bands, Vocalists, Orators and even dance numbers! I’ve also arranged plenty of video game and film scores. It really keeps me eclectic, to say nothing of how incredible it is for maintaining my orchestration chops.
Many modern composers get their training and education solely in a DAW, and therefore are prone to all kinds of horrifying missteps when prompted to write for live acoustic ensembles. Thankfully, growing up in an orchestra has helped me avert some of those pitfalls, the grand list of which would be a good topic for another blog post or youtube video someday.
This particular occasion had myself (and a couple of old colleagues from Los Angeles) arrange charts for the Rateliff plays Nilsson concert for a small orchestra (only 3 horns, 6 winds and strings). It was a fun little exercise, and my excitement only grew when I realized that the show would be repeated in New York and Los Angeles! At the time of this writing, you have probably missed your opportunity for the Denver show, but links to the others are below.
Nathaniel Rateliff plays Nilsson – Colorado Symphony
Boettcher Concert Hall, Denver, CO
March 4th, 2023 7:30PM
Nathaniel Rateliff Plays Nilsson – LA Philharmonic
Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, CA
March 8th, 2023 8:00 PM
A Little Touch of Rateliff
Wu Tsai Theater, David Geffen Hall, New York, NY
April 1st, 2023 7:30PM