Witek said that Mike Titlebaum, associate professor of performance studies, suggested an Ithaca College alumnus to be the arranger of the piece. He said that if they wanted to include all music students, they needed a custom arrangement, as usually not all instruments are included in an orchestral arrangement, like electric bass, saxophone and euphonium.
“What people may not realize about the video is that we have all the instrumentalists and vocalists involved,” said Witek. “We wanted to make sure that we are including everyone in the music school.”
Witek said it was important to pick a piece that people could connect too.
“If we look at the history of ‘Amazing Grace,’ it has been used and done by so many artists in a non-religious way,” said Witek. “In the lyrics that we use, ‘grace’ can be referred to in all different ways.”
Enter alumnus Oliver Scott ’19, who had done other arrangements for the School of Music before but was asked to make an arrangement that included everyone for “Amazing Grace.”
“A lot of artistic freedoms were given to me,” said Scott. “I think they trusted me to do something good with it.”
The effort took Scott four to five weeks, as he balanced classwork for his master’s degree studies in the Eastman School of Music during the day with his work on the arrangement at night.
“I think the biggest thing that makes this arrangement different is just the amount of people involved,” said Scott. “I mean, it's absolutely spectacular.”
Scott was thankful for the opportunity to participate in this project.
“A really big piece of my heart is at Ithaca College, and I love the faculty there,” said Scott. “I got such good opportunities when I was at Ithaca College, and this is just another great opportunity that I got to do for the school.”
Students of the music school were emailed their part of the arrangement and given instructions on how to perform and record their portion of the piece. It seems as though “Amazing Grace” had the impact that was intended for the students in particular.