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Battle of Alberta: Edmonton, Calgary orchestras unite to perform physically distanced ‘Hockey Night in Canada’

WATCH: Musicians from the Calgary Philharmonic and Edmonton Symphony orchestras perform a physically distanced version of "Hockey Night in Canada" amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since sports are on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is another way to get your Battle of Alberta fix.

READ MORE: Calgary Philharmonic, Edmonton Symphony musicians play virtual performance during coronavirus self-isolation

Seventy musicians from the Calgary Philharmonic and Edmonton Symphony orchestras joined forces for a special rendition of “Hockey Night in Canada,” with each performer — sporting an Oilers or Flames jersey — separately recording their track.

How they did it

It took hours of meticulous editing and post-production work to get the finished product together.

“You think of the efficiency of having 70 people on stage and performing a four-minute piece all at once. Then you consider those same 70 people recording it on their own, sending 70 files of four-minute length to an editor or producer like me to chop up and edit and EQ and put it all together,” Donovan Seidle, assistant concertmaster of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, told Global News on Thursday.

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“It’s just an insane amount of work.”

As a producer, Seidle said he provided synchronization for the musicians.

“We sent out a click track with a measure count that adhered to all the time signature changes and all that,” he said.

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“The players had that in their ears and they could record it whenever they wanted. They recorded videos on a plethora of different devices.”

Musicians from the Calgary Philharmonic and Edmonton Symphony orchestras joined forces for a special rendition of “Hockey Night in Canada.” Producer Donovan Seidle used a virtual stage to nail the sound. Courtesy: Donovan Seidle

Seidle used a virtual stage to get the sound right — as if the instruments’ vibrations were bouncing off walls in a hall.

“Each one of the audio signals for each one of the musicians is coming from this sort of fabricated concert hall. So that provides us the stereo image of where we are placed on the stage as well as the reverb of this virtual concert hall,” he said.

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This is not the first time the orchestras have collaborated; they released a physically distanced version of Edward Elgar’s “Nimrod Variation IX” from the Enigma Variations last month. “Nimrod” took 20 to 30 hours of editing and the hockey theme took about 12 hours, Seidle said.

“One of the things that is especially difficult is you’re not able to push and pull the timing off of the conductor or another musician nor are you able to really adjust your own tuning to another musician,” he said.

“So there were both timing issues and tuning issues that I had to deal with.”

Battling it out

Seidle released the iconic hockey song on April 3.

“We decided to focus on something that everyone across Canada may enjoy and recognize, and that was the old ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ theme arranged by Dolores Claman,” he said.

It encapsulates the Edmonton-Calgary rivalry that goes beyond sports.

“We love to hate each other but we love each other as well,” Seidle said.

READ MORE: Battle of Alberta reaches new level as Edmonton Oilers win 8-3 in Calgary

He said it is rare for an orchestra to perform with another.

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“It’s expensive and difficult to tour an orchestra and equally difficult to have that many people on stage, so it was really great to put this project together with old friends,” he said.

Instead of offering immediate feedback with applause, the audience writes comments commending the performers. The response has been overwhelmingly positive.

“That’s sort of what we hoped for this project because people need a little light in their lives right now,” Seidle said.