“Holding On” features music coordination and supervision as well as expanded orchestrations by Lyons, vocal arrangement and original orchestrations by Lowdermilk, video editing and production by Tim Chaffee and audio engineering, mixing, mastering and production by Dan Garmon.
Lyons used Finale software to create the scores and parts, and Logic Pro X to create practice tracks. He shared the sheet music and tracks online and put out the call to musicians and singers to join the project. Singers and musicians from across the U.S. as well as from Italy, Jamaica, Japan and the Philippines submitted nearly 400 audio and video files for the project, Lyons says.
“It was inspiring during such a time of uncertainty to be receiving so many beautiful videos from friends and strangers alike,” Lyons says. “Unless you've done self-tapes yourself, I don't think people realize how vulnerable an act it is, and how committed you have to be to record yourself performing a choral or instrumental part in isolation. It's paradoxical because choral music and instrumental music are designed to be social activities. None of this is meant to be done in isolation.”
Ideally, conducting is an activity that is reliant on mutual trust, physical proximity, sympathetic responses and exchanges of sound, gesture and energy in real time, Lyons says. Although he wasn’t able to achieve this in person, he still sought the sense of community that music-making brings and was able to replicate that community online through the “Holding On” project.
Audiences may remember Lyons’ work during CCM’s 2019-20 musical theatre productions of 42nd Street and The Secret Garden. As Associate Musical Director of 42nd Street, Lyons worked closely with his mentor and advisor Roger Grodsky, CCM Musical Theatre Professor and Musical Director of the production. The show was directed by CCM Musical Theatre Professor Diane Lala and showcased a huge cast and crew. “We mounted a gorgeous, funny, exuberant show that is basically a love letter to big, splashy, musical comedy," Lyons says. "It featured some truly iconic and breathtaking tap sequences and it was a thrill to be a part of it.”
Lyons was also Musical Director of The Secret Garden, which was directed and choreographed by Broadway’s Connor Gallagher (BFA Musical Theatre, ’06) at CCM. The production included a partnership with L-Acoustics to bring groundbreaking “L-ISA Immersive Hyperreal Sound” technology to the CCM stage.
“Another feature of the production was that it featured almost all student designers — a testament to the enormous talent across so many disciplines at CCM, as well as the trust that advisers and department heads place in their students,” Lyons adds. “I certainly enjoyed having relative autonomy, on my part!”
Read more about Lyons in his professional biography below and watch his virtual choir and orchestra perform “Holding On” at Playbill.