The Endless Mountain Music Festival’s opening night performance promises to dazzle the audience with not only the sounds of the world class festival orchestra, but also an accompanying visual panorama custom-made by videographer Steve Ulrich.
Steadman Theatre at Mansfield University will be the scene for the concert on Friday, July 20, at 7:30 with the theme “Legends of the Screen,” featuring music from Gone with the Wind, Dr. Zhivago, Somewhere in Time, and other classic cinema offerings.
Ulrich, whose company is based in Marietta, Pennsylvania, describes what he will be doing at the performance as being akin to a video jockey, a VJ, if you will, although he says it isn’t a term that is really used.
“Curating video images is a challenge, and the timing of live music, which can change each performance, makes it even more challenging,” he says.
Ulrich will sit in on the concert rehearsal the morning of the performance with all of his video footage, and then will spend the rest of the day working on the timing of the images in concert with the music to make sure it comes out right. “There are so many variables that could change everything when you are working a live performance,” Ulrich says. Even the rehearsal can be far different than the actual performance if a piece or movement needs to be played again for any reason.
This will be the third time Ulrich has worked with EMMF in his capacity as videographer. Ulrich has a long relationship with the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra, documenting various events the orchestra does for community outreach and benefits. That is how he came to work at the Endless Mountain Music Festival. Stephen Gunzenhauser, EMMF conductor and music director, is also the conductor and music director of the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra. Ulrich has played the trumpet for years and notes, “I think that it is very important to keep symphonic music alive.”
Ulrich’s career as a videographer has taken him to many venues and events around the world. One of his more unique jobs was traveling with Pope Francis to do video work in Krakow, Poland, in the summer of 2016 for World Youth Day, a weeklong event that draws young Catholics to a different city every three years. “There were at least 1.5 million Catholic teenagers participating,” Ulrich says. He and his company created a 360-degree virtual reality recording that the youth could access with a smartphone app. The editing required for that took five times longer than regular video editing, but “it allowed the participants to be immersed in 360-degree virtual reality, which is amazing.”
And Ulrich has his hands in a couple of non-video related pots as well. A couple of years ago, his business purchased an old bank building at 100 West Market Street in Marietta, and while that is where his videography work is done, as well as digital conversion of just about any media a person wants converted, there are also a couple of surprising side businesses.
Last March the enterprising Ulrich and others put in an escape room with a twist. For those of you who don’t know what an escape room is, here’s the Cambridge Dictionary online definition: “a game where people are locked into a room and have to find a way to escape by finding clues in it [the room] and solving puzzles...”
In Ulrich’s escape room, First National Escape, the game’s objective is not to escape, but rather to break into the bank vault and gather as much money as possible in the least amount of time. Participants get a short tour of the historic building, which has been decorated and filled with vintage artifacts to authentically recreate the feel of an 1875 Victorian bank. Then off they go, trying to find the tools, clues, and hints needed to successfully break into the vault. Players have sixty minutes to break into the vault, gather up as much cash and gold as they can, and then “deposit” it with a bank teller or risk being busted by the bank watchman. Up to eight people can play at one time.
While being interviewed for this story, Ulrich excuses himself and disappears for a minute or two. When he comes back to the phone, he confesses, “I am not quite sure why we thought it would be a good idea to put in an ice cream window at the bank.” When his children are at school, Ulrich is also responsible for selling ice cream to people who come to the window. He is looking forward to the end of the school year and the beginning of summer break so his children can take over that duty!
But Ulrich’s profession is most definitely that of a videographer. “Really, I am a video editor by trade. I have a librarian’s mind when it comes to video footage. It is all organized in my head,” he says.
If you come to the opening concert of the Endless Mountain Music Festival you will see that mind at work.
For more information on Steve Ulrich and his varied services, check out mydigitalconversion.com. For more information on the Endless Mountain Music Festival, go to endlessmountain.net. And if you ever find yourself in Marietta longing for an adventure, visit firstnationalescape.com, or just go right to the bank at 100 West Market Street.