In this week’s Insider’s Look, get to know more about musical director and composer, Rony Fortich as we talk to him about the transition to online musical theater workshops and writing music for MIND S-COOL. Be inspired by his passion and love for music, and take a peek in his process of making melodies.
What are your thoughts when we had to take that leap and pivot to online musical theater workshops this year?
“I have been doing workshops with the BGC Arts Center for two years and we were just about to start planning our third year when COVID and the quarantine hit, and I remember thinking about just canceling everything ‘cause I wasn’t sure, you know, [if] theater workshops … would work online. It’s such an activity where it’s best in person so you can give feedback and get quick reactions and learn from each other ‘cause everyone is in the same room. But as everything had started going online, I had seen that it was working for classes … for school. So I started doing a little research on how to make it work online, especially through Zoom.
“The first workshop– seeing what works and what doesn’t work online and applying everything that we had learned from that first workshop to the second workshop which happened a couple of months later and was of course much smoother ‘cause we’ve done enough research and experience to know what worked and what didn’t. I’m glad that it was successful and people signed up. In fact, we had a lot of returning students who wanted to do that whole experience again.”
What were some of your highlights and best memories from the online classes?
“From the online classes, I would say I really, really enjoyed seeing the medium work. Seeing that theater workshops can happen online even if the person [is not] in front of you, to see them get it no matter where they were. And that they would make each other laugh or that they would learn from each other even though they weren't in the same space.
“And of course the best part for me is the recital ‘cause, you know, we were so used to doing recitals on stage and in person, and filling-up the room, and getting that excitement, and I feel somehow we were able to do the same thing by opening up the Zoom class for all the students’ friends and parents to come watch. They were nervous themselves just waiting for their turn to go up, and we would always have a, sort of like, a post-class meeting and you would see how happy they were to be able to perform from their home. And the nerves were real! The excitement was real. The learning was real. And I think that was probably the best part for me, just getting to that recital and seeing them having had a great time the past month and a half, as well as enjoying that culminating activity as much as they would a recital in person.”
When the idea of MIND S-COOL TV was presented to you, what were your thoughts on collaborating for the theme song for the educational science and art program?
“I was incredibly honored and excited to write the theme song for MIND S-COOL. I’d written theme songs for theme parks, and jingles, but never for an educational program, so this was using what I enjoy about writing jingles– making them catchy and fun, but in this case being able to write something that you know kids are gonna hear every time they turn the program on or will remember many years from now (hopefully it’s still in their head). I had written, you know, jingles and it’s not quite the same because jingles are much shorter and off the beat catchier. Educational theme songs like this allow for a little more information and catchier lines so [when producer and writer] Maribel Garcia … gave me awesome lyrics to play around with, it was great to sort of take those ideas and make them into a theme song that hopefully people would be singing for a long time to come.”
What were your top three reasons on why you agreed to take on the project?
“Number one, of course, had to be--I love everybody at the BGC Arts Center. I always feel welcomed when I’m there, right from day one when I spoke to Maribel Garcia about starting workshops there. She was so generous and encouraging, and that energy kind of flows throughout everybody who works at BGC Arts Center. Everybody is just so warm. So of course when they ask me to do something like write a theme song, I’m right there.
“Number two– I’ve written jingles for theme parks, to be able to write something for an educational program I think is incredibly cool! It leaves something that you know children will get to hear every time they get to watch it. And even creating that intro--if you listen to that intro of the song, I knew it had to be something nice and memorable, and something intellectual like the brain thinking, to be able to write something like that and think like, ‘Okay, what is the sound of the brain thinking?’ To be able to create music like that is always fun for me. So that will be the second big reason.
“And the third big reason is, I love creating. I love being given an opportunity to write for something that I’ve never written before and I said this was the first time to be able to write for a child’s program and I was happy to take on that opportunity and get to the piano and start writing something.”
Any other message you would like to share as a partner in BAFI’s projects?
“I would like to say thank you to the Bonifacio Art Foundation, Inc. for giving me all the incredible opportunities, giving me a stage and a rehearsal room when I needed one and continuing these projects online even through the pandemic. For me to be able to share my passion and love for theater, as well as allowing a lot of students to keep on learning, to keep finding ways to grow during this time when--especially children can’t leave the home and need some creative outlet. Thank you for allowing me that and giving me that space.”
‘Dream S-Cool’ is composed and directed by Rony Fortich, lyrics by Maria Isabel Garcia, and arranged by Xeric Tan.