In a unique mashup, the Montclair State University Symphony Orchestra performed in a teaser for Monday Night Football on ESPN on Monday night, Nov. 8.
The teaser, titled Legends, juxtaposed the orchestra playing a classical piece with footage of some of football’s greatest players just prior to the Pittsburgh Steelers/Chicago Bears game, then cut to today’s generation of football players and shots of the orchestra playing its rendition of Legend by The Score.
Nathaniel Williams, a senior Music Education major from Newark, New Jersey, was among the students spotlighted, joyfully playing his electric violin. He was on his way home on the bus when he happened to tune in to ESPN a few seconds before the commercial aired.
“It’s so crazy because I’m a huge football fan and I rarely watch before the kickoff,” he says. “I was beyond excited. When I saw the orchestra and the shots of myself on the violin I showed it to the person I was sitting next to.”
The piece was filmed in October, when ESPN came to campus, in large part because of Montclair’s reputation as “East Coast Hollywood.” The College of the Arts, through its Department of Broadcast and Media Operations, provides location services and production services to the film and television industry.
In the past eight months, The Equalizer, Wu-Tang Clan (Hulu), Ways and Means (CBS pilot with Patrick Dempsey), and an independent film for the BET channel have all been shot on campus. Commercial clients have included Google, Pfizer and Charles Schwab, among many others. “Montclair State is the only university in the tri-state area that is engaged with professional film and television production at this level,” says College of the Arts Dean Daniel Gurskis.
“Because of our reputation, ESPN came calling,” Gurskis says. “And because we make things happen quickly, they got in touch on Monday, scouted the Kasser as a location on Tuesday, and booked the theater the next day for the following week. Tony Mazzocchi, director of the School of Music, quickly shifted a scheduled orchestra rehearsal into the Kasser for the shoot.” Adjunct Professor Stacy Gitlin brought School of Communication and Media students to observe the filming at the theater and interview the creative director for a documentary on the process.
ESPN’s Monday Night Football has millions of viewers depending on the game – with some recent games seeing upwards of 14 million viewers, the Steelers-Bears matchup promised to be a heavily watched game.
It was certainly seen by a lot of family and friends in Williams’ circle. “I promise you my phone just kept going off with congratulatory sentiments,” he says. “Even for a minute-long pregame commercial, it’s an awesome moment that I’ll never forget.”