Speaking as someone who super unfortunately was not able to participate this round (so take my opinion with many grains of Himalayan Pink Salt):
Would I have had a submission in the systems music piece, I would have been really honored to hear an actual orchestra perform a part of it, or in junction with. And I’m very jealous of those of you who did get that opportunity.
I can also completely identify with those who maybe feel like something was “taken away” from them by having a professional coordinated ensemble joining in as to round out the piece, but at the end of the day:
1. pianobook is an extremely diverse community and while having many amateur musicians, it also has many professionals taking part in crafting it. Any of these pros who work with an ensemble regularly or are proficient in each instrument could have submitted a high quality work that functionally served the same purpose, so I think having this hired orchestra in a way levels the playing field so that each individual participating has an equal shot at contributing a meaningful and beautiful idea. No matter the quality, this orchestra is representing community-written and submitted ideas, not solely a single person in the project.
2. £10,000 is a lot of money to be invested in paying working musicians in loomingly uncertain times, when it could have just gone in pocket. I’m not saying that christian would do or does do that, but there are many other people out there who would. And it’s not to say that money couldn’t have been spent somewhere more commercially viable like site-maintenance or other things, but I think the musical vision of pianobook is core to the community and functioning of the project, and so I see it as valuable of an investment as say hiring a web-designer to make the downloads a little more quick or reliable, or the site a bit more snappy. I don’t claim to know all the inner-workings or logistics of pianobook financially, but as a musician its always cool to see other musicians get paid, and the fact that contributors are also being rewarded is lovely too.
3. Even though this systems piece is “a community project” at the end of the day, nobody knew what it was going to sound like when they submitted their small piece of the puzzle. We were given tools and a framework from which to craft, but it was going to be the pianobook team’s job to make a song out of these many great ideas and at the end of the day that means musically it is their vision largely responsible for the specific outcome. The fact that they hired an ensemble to serve the musical motifs and ideas of those who participated and then marketed the project primarily as a massive collage of the work of many people speaks volumes to me, when it could have leveraged far more coverage to the group who played. To me that orchestra is sort of like christian’s own submission to the project, after all he is a part of the community and has a unique voice among us
But once again, I also feel the sentiment of those who felt unprepared for this addition which was sort of last minute. So I say:
I think it was a good idea, but I agree that maybe it would have been nice to know just a little more in advance, even if it was as vague as like:
“We have something very special planned in the way of performance for the end of the project to honor and support all of the amazing ideas that are coming in.”
I also think the stem suggestion is cool, an alternate version with just pianobook would be a really unique chapter of the story to hear. It is understandbly difficult to do amazing things in such a massive project and still work towards making everyone feel included and valued (which all of you are!!!!)