The Symphony on the Road

When the Symphony leaves the comfortable confines of Robert E. Jacoby Hall on May 28 to perform at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre with Wilson Philips, the audience will not know the amazing effort it takes to get them on the road.

There are 56 musicians, a conductor, musician chairs, stands, lights, conductor’s podium, percussion equipment and some instruments that are packed into a 26 ft. truck provided by sponsor Enterprise. And all that packing is done by the Symphony’s three man stage crew under the direction of stage manager Ray Klaase. The crew also has to shepherd the performers onto a bus for the ride to the new venue.

“The St. Augustine Amphitheatre is an easy place for us to go to because they have a loading dock and are designed for shows,” said Klaase. “In other venues, we have to drive the truck next to a tent wherever it is placed and sometimes even build a floor for the orchestra.”

Beside sound engineer James Pitts and light engineer Seamus McConney, Klaase will add nine to 11 more people from the IATSE union that governs the stage hands to assist with the concert.

“We have to work as a team in order to have a concert,” Klaase adds. “It’s all about making sure everybody can do their job to the best of their ability.”

A graduate of Mandarin High School and FSCJ, Klaase is in his sixth year as Stage Manager. Previously he served three years as Sound Engineer, took three years off for another position and came back for three years as Lights Engineer.

In 2014 the Symphony performed at Hemming Park. Besides the logistics of moving all the equipment, Klaase and company had to grapple with getting all the equipment into the tent. Forty-eight different microphones needed to be set up since it was a Pops-style program.

“Most of the time everything goes smoothly but we’ve had some issues,” he adds. “One time we opened the timpani boxes to find out that they weren’t inside. Another time the truck broke down on the way back from a performance in West Palm Beach.”

If there is a problem, the audience will never know. So sit back and enjoy the Symphony on the road.