Sequoia Symphony collaborates with ‘90s boy band musicians to release a Christmas classic single
VISALIA – A local symphony director elicits the tones of five pop musicians to join the Sequoia Symphony and create a festive sound, as well as a music video, this holiday season.
This year, Visalia’s Sequoia Symphony orchestra decided to spread some holiday cheer for the winter season by partnering with members from ‘90s boy bands to release a Christmas music video and a music track. The symphony covered the song “O Holy Night,” directed by symphony music director Bruce Kiesling, and will be released on Tuesday, Nov. 22, along with a music video of the symphony and boy band members performing the song.
“It’s kind of our Christmas card to our fans, and to everyone who would see the video,” Keisling said.
The song and video feature boy band members Jeff Timmons and Justin Jeffre of the 1990s and 2000s boy band 98 Degrees, with the band’s Drew Lachey contributing vocals as well but being absent from the video. The song and video also feature Erik Estrada from O-Town and Jame Jones of All-4-One.
Upon release, they will be available on the Sequoia Symphony web page and on streaming services worldwide. This includes services like iHeartRadio, Spotify, Apple Music and Youtube amongst others, according to Timmons. The song and video were initially anticipated for release on Nov. 15 and then on Nov. 18, but the date has been changed to Nov. 22 to coordinate efforts to get the song released across all streaming platforms.
The video was produced on Nov. 2 at the Visalia Fox Theatre by Niccolo Go’s local Go Creative Group. Go is the executive producer, who also shot videos for the symphony during the COVID-19 pandemic. For this production, Go brought in some well-established filmmakers from Hollywood, with high-end equipment and other creative minds to ensure the video presented its best.
This circumstance came together as a result of the pandemic, when the symphony had to resort to posting a series of short videos because they were unable to perform concerts. The videos yielded a wide audience, starting out with small performances before Kiesling desired to take it further by growing into bigger productions with storytelling elements and dancing. Eventually, Timmons stumbled across the presentations himself.
“I was blown away by the video, and then I realized I knew the orchestra director,” Timmons said.
As it turns out, Kiesling and Timmons grew up in the same small town in Ohio. Every year around the holiday season, a big musical production for “A Christmas Carol” was held by a community theater production, which both men participated in. Kiesling sang in the production for a couple of years until his voice changed as he got older, so he was switched to a part more suited to his voice while Timmons took over the high soprano tones.
Over the course of about two years, 98 Degrees had talked about doing an album with a symphony orchestra. Kiesling said he and Timmons had initially desired to release something last year, but the timing of it did not work out, as holiday-themed projects need to be planned in advance so it can be ready for release by November.
To avoid overplaying some of the more well known Christmas songs, “O Holy Night” was suggested by the well-known music streaming platform iHeartRadio, which informed Timmons it would support a single holiday classic. According to Kiesling, Timmons has ties all over the music industry and was the one who brought this connection to iHeartRadio to the symphony.
As everything came together, the symphony took to the studio to record their part for the song, led by Kiesling on the musical endeavor. The four boy band singers each contributed their parts of the song separately in their own hometowns.
As Kiesling continued to work and tweak the song prior to its release date, the only thing that was left was to bring everybody together to shoot the video.
After the set was put together and all the lights and cameras were staged that morning, the group spent the day shooting some individual closeups, capturing symphony members as they played their instruments and catching the singers lip syncing to the song. It didn’t end there, however. After that, the producer asked all the musicians to perform the song in double time to further enhance the music video. This makes for a creative effect for the video, where scenes can be edited into slow motion while matching the normal speed of the music, according to Go.
Kiesling said this project feels like the tip of the iceberg of what the artists could do in the future. Due to how well the collaboration went, he said there is strong potential for more future projects with the musical groups.
“There was definitely this sense that you sort of just got a taste of what we could do together,” Kiesling said. “And what I love about the symphony orchestra is how versatile it is. It can really play anything…it’s just so full of opportunities.”