The Garritan Personal Orchestra has been used in the past as a substitute for a pit orchestra or in conjunction with some live musicians. Live musicians are better but economics sometimes dictate differently.
Geez, Rodney, I read your link some time ago, but never commented! Thanks for posting this!!
This is such a hot topic in 2014 and will only become hotter as economics keeps driving the cost of live music through the ceiling. I think Phil accurately encapsulated the whole situation.
Each side has such a strong, ethical perspective. If you make your living as a performing musician, of course you want all performances to employ live musicians. But the other side of the coin is if there are limited (or no) funds in small market areas, do you just not produce shows? That seems sad and damaging long-term to the art.
In major market cities that have resident orchestras, or in the case of musical theater, available and talented pit musicians, I never want to hear canned music. That would be horrible and damaging to the art form.
At the other extreme, if you have available singers in a small market area, but no pool of instrumentalists, I'm all for staging the work with canned instrumental tracks, especially if it's the only way a company can put on the show. It's not just a cost thing ... you may not have a violist or a cor player, or maybe a bari sax player available, etc.
Regional and dinner theater music is compromised, but it seems like a fair trade-off. They employ live musicians playing drastically reduced orchestrations, but at least it's affordable and in some cases can give a decent flavor of the full-blown show (generally the arrangements are identical). Many shows, however, really suffer from the limited colors.
I'm kind of a purist and I have a bone to pick when a production uses live musicians, but they are off in the basement, or backstage (or as in the case of past Tony Awards shows, in another building all together!), IOW, out of complete sight of the audience. This to me is not much different than using canned music!
This is a crisis ... I don't know the answer.
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