The pandemic has been surreal and somewhat magical. I live in a bubble within Los Angeles, Playa Vista, that makes me feel like I’m in “The Truman Show” whenever I step outside. You still see neighbours gleefully pushing strollers and walking their dogs, children playing in the parks, locals meeting for happy hour, so it’s as if the pandemic, politics and protests skipped our mini utopia. Every afternoon, my husband Mitch is home painting and creating art while I practice my violin or conducting, learn Chinese or boxing, all between sporadic and seemingly endless Zoom meetings.
Before the pandemic, I was a violinist, mostly recording TV/Film scores and performing commercial music. I had quit working for every contractor in town just a few months before it happened, so I was already in full hustling mode. During that period, I had evolved into an entrepreneur: I scored an indie feature, learned to invest, and with a friend, created patent- pending cannabis products.
Within days of scoring stages in Los Angeles shutting down, composer Laura Karpman called me to announce that she had a solution for composers, who needed to record scores, and for the newly out-of-work musicians. She and her partner, Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum, came up with the idea of the Unison Orchestra, a remote orchestra that would keep musicians home and safe, and train them to build a home studio. They reached out to me to hire the orchestra, veteran Hollywood engineer Brad Haehnel to create our unique sound, and world-renowned conductor Marin Alsop to consult us and recommend the greatest orchestral players from around the globe. With this dream team of creatives and musicians, the Unison Orchestra was born.
Unison Orchestra’s first project was for 20 film scoring students from USC who needed to complete their final projects. Next was a massive task: remote recording Laura Karpman’s score for HBO’s “Lovecraft Country.” It would be easier explained if I could draw a map, but it goes something like this: Laura sends her score to her team (assistants, orchestrators, copyists); sessions get to the engineer; Brad creates individual Pro-Tools sessions for each musician (30-35 instruments); musicians are selected by Eddy Malave, our manager and contractor; sessions are delivered back to Brad to work his magic. The result: an astonishingly remarkable score with outstanding performances. You would never know, from hearing the magnitude of depth of the orchestral sound, that we performed remotely.
Most of 2020 was spent on preparing for what we thought would be post-pandemic. Time, not since childhood, felt endless. I could take long, slow walks twice a day with my folks; meditate early morning; read books; work out; cook fun meals for Mitch every night; practice and learn new skills. Routine became so important for my mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health. I had never felt so close to my husband and my parents, just being together and savouring each moment. We are all so grateful to feel that this period has been the greatest time of our lives.
Since 2021, I’ve been co-producing a new hip-hop show opening in Las Vegas and Dubai this year. This role is new to me, but bringing together teams of VFX, set design, choreography and music has felt exciting and challenging, which is something I crave. I’ll also be performing violin and co-conducting a full orchestra and band. My husband quit his job as an artist at Trader Joe’s to partner with me on my cannabis venture and travel with me. We’re currently in the search for a couple neighbouring houses, so we can live next to my folks in Los Angeles and in Las Vegas. We realise that as long as we are all healthy and together, there’s not that much more that we need to feel fulfilled in this lifetime.
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