Here’s a blow by blow from producer Rob Mathes:
The NFL would not credit The New Jersey Symphony anywhere in the program nor myself as arranger and orchestrator. It is their policy to not allow anyone to use the trademark. The Symphony and I are allowed to talk about it and promote our work ad infinitum because what we did is factual but no acknowledgment for the Symphony seemed silly to me. Who cares about the arranger/orchestrator? I’ll be fine but New Jersey’s own??? The Super Bowl’s home this year and that home’s orchestra?? Who would it have hurt to mention them?? Come on!!!
To give more credit where credit is due, David Lai, Renée’s wonderful manager, and Renée herself completely masterminded the idea of using the Symphony. James Roe, the magnificent Oboist, who is now CEO of the NJ Symphony, and Susan Stucker, the COO, made it happen amidst the Symphony’s crazy schedule. On Friday, January 24th, I took up the baton on the stage of NJPAC and we went to work right after they had a recording session for Strauss’s Alpine Symphony. Talk about a juxtaposition!! Obviously having a Symphony on the 50 yard line in January would be impossible so Isaiah Abolin, world class engineer, recorded a number of run throughs and we picked the best one. That is what you heard tonight along with a group of Men and Woman from the Combined Military Choirs, Army, Navy and Marines. The reviews online have been magnificent but, as with anything that exposed, there have been a few naysayers. I dare say it is a tough job to do that song well and with the dignity and grace it needs yet not do it straight off the sheet music. I have heard so many stodgy arrangements of it and others that gild the lily in the extreme. There are some classic and beautiful ones though. If forced to choose I’d take stodgy over histrionic. I often love the solemn and stirring performances done by Baritone singers, sometimes from the Military. That is almost the default best option as opposed to an American Idol free-for-all on such a rich hymn.
For those interested it is written as a waltz. In other words it is in 3. “Oh oh say can you see by the 1-2-3-1-2-3”. It is ever so occasionally expanded to be in 4, though rarely. Renée wanted the beginning to really suggest an openness and purity and she wanted to float above it. Putting the first two stanzas in 4/4 time gave her that room she wanted. I went to the traditional 3/4 time after “Rocket’s Red Glare”—gave “proof through the night” etc etc. Into 3 we went for a traditional barn storming close. What an absolute trip to hear it in the midst of all that madness. Giant Bud Light cans and bombs and women on horses and rockets. You name it. Renée gave it her all and just hit it out of the park I think.