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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Sarris

Rob Mathes Christmas Concert

Updated: Feb 17, 2021

So, a few weeks ago (at the beginning of December) I got a call from a producer I know named Bob Conover.

"Will, Rob Mathes wants to do a Covid holiday special. You in?"

Rob Mathes is a producer, musician and arranger from Greenwich who loves the holiday season. Every year (except for last year) for the last 25 years he puts on a holiday concert around the last weekend before Christmas. He brings in musicians he's gotten to know and work with who aren't well known, but are really fantastic. Guys like Shawn Pelton on drums (who plays for Saturday Night Live) and Will Lee (one of the best bass players around). And in the past few years he's even had some celebrities who he knows and works with who wanted to get in on the action (famously 2 years ago Sting, and for the last few years Vanessa Williams).

Rob and his arrangements are the stars of the show though, along with two amazing singers, James "D-Train" Williams and Vaneese Thomas.

Rob is somehow able to get to the essence of what makes a song work, and then exploit that in a way that makes his music unforgettable. His original songs are really wonderful and special, mixing joy, inspiration, tenderness and even sadness to bring out the true meaning of the holiday season and Christmas.

Anyway, I said "YES!" to Bob immediately, and we began planning how best to do what with a limited (almost no) budget and trying to keep the crew to an absolute minimum because of Covid.

And on Sunday, December 20th we all assembled at the First Congregational Church in Old Greenwich, CT and filmed a magical night of music. Setup and rehearsal took till about 7pm when we put on a show.

My role was two fold. First, I was involved in some planning for how we would shoot the evening. We ended up using 2 Panasonic AG-AC160 cameras, an aging Panasonic AC-HMC150 along with two older Canon HDV cameras and my GH4 and GH5. The GH5 is the newest of the lot. But hey, they work and they look good!

That gets to the second part of my role. During the shoot I operated those two cameras as moving cameras. One on my motorized slider, low and in front, and the other on my gimbal to get some moving, interesting shots.

We broke around 10:30pm and tore everything down, transferring media while we did so.

Because that get's to the second part of my role. Initially Bob and I were going to share post editing duties. We had wired everything into a switcher and done a line cut, but we knew we'd need to tweak each song to really capture it the best we could.

As it turned out, the bulk of the editing dropped into my lap. I am fairly quick as an editor, and I have a decent amount of experience with this kind of editing (I edited a music based TV show every week for about 6 years that was done in a similar way. I even was nominated for Emmy awards for those years, and won one.)

So I buckled down, and... well 2 days later we've emerged on the other side with a really nice show.

The music was recorded and mixed by Rory Young, and boy did he do a nice job! Everyone really put their heart and soul into this concert.

May this concert bring you joy, peace and comfort during this weird season. It's still Christmas after all.

The concert was streaming from 12/23/2020 through 01/05/2021. Who knows, maybe you can come see the live concert next year!

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