Summer Scrapbook 2010 Pt. III: The Wedding!
September 11th, 2010
In any normal year, conducting an orchestra in Spain and hitting up Comic Con would be more than enough to fill an entire summer. However, Raya and I got back from Comic Con and found ourselves consumed in the final planning stages of our wedding, which was right around the corner.
Before moving forward, let me briefly go back. Raya and I have been together for over 8 years. When we began dating, we had both just graduated the USC Thornton Music School. Everything I owned was in storage and I was sleeping on a friend’s couch. I was totally unemployed, and wasn’t even looking for work! Instead, I was crashing at Elmer Bernstein’s studio, because he let me set up my computer and keyboard there so I’d have a place to finish scoring a student film I was working on (with a budget of $0.00 of course). Everything that has happened in my life since, has happened with her by my side.
At some point in Battlestar Galactica‘s third season, I realized I wanted to ask Raya to marry me. However, I needed to complete Galactica first. That chapter of my life needed to close before I could begin anything as monumental as marriage. Just before scoring the final episode of the series, I gathered the courage to go out and get a ring. But, I still couldn’t ask until Battlestar was done. Within 24 hours of composing the final cue of the series finale, I had popped the question and Raya and I were engaged. (Click here for highlights of the engagement party!)
We decided to get married at the Wright property in the hills of Malibu, overlooking the expanse of the Pacific Ocean, at the site of an unfinished Eric Lloyd Wright house built directly into the cliff. The venue has special significance to us. The owners occasionally put on concerts here, and one such event was actually our first date. As if the stars were aligning, it was also the same night we randomly met Boingo drummer Johnny “Vatos” Hernandez, and a couple days before I met Boingo guitarist Steve Bartek, people who are now very near and dear to us. We set a date of August 21, 2010, which seemed like a long time away at the time. However, the months flew by and the list of things to organize got longer and longer.
There were many little wedding details Raya and I didn’t really feel strongly about. But, we both agreed that the music needed to be perfect. We decided to keep things relatively simple… and thus ended up with only a chamber orchestra, two rock bands, a zydeco band, a jazz group and a folk / blues singer, powered by two complete sound systems each with their own engineers. You know… simple. :)
Raya and I each wrote original music for the occasion, and spent a good chunk of the week prior rehearsing with our individual ensembles. We were both more worried about soundcheck and rehearsals than we were over actual wedding details. In many ways, the wedding was every bit as complicated as an outdoor music festival, combined with the usual stresses of getting married.
We wanted to make sure that everything at the wedding was unique. I asked Raya if she would make number cards for each table, so people could find their seats. As happens on occasion, she went totally overboard and spent days (or was it weeks?) on photoshop masterpieces, each custom-tailored to represent the people sitting at that table.
The ceremony began with a chamber orchestra playing the original composition I wrote for the occasion. I composed a piece I felt captured the joy, tenderness and emotion I wanted to convey to Raya that afternoon, and thankfully, I had world class musicians on hand willing to perform it!
(L-R: Neal Desby, conductor; Jonathan Ortega, celeste / percussion; Robbie Anderson, violin; Paul Cartwright, violin; Tom “Dirrty Brahms” Lea, viola; Jacob Szekely, cello; Mike Valerio, bass; Jenni Olson, flute; Laura Griffiths, French horn; Chris Bleth, clarinet)
All of these musicians have played with me on countless series, game and movie scores and live concerts. It felt perfect to have them behind us, playing this melodic music, and I think nearly all our guests recognized it as a McCreary original.
The most nerve-wracking part of the ceremony for me was standing up there while my music was being performed and not being able to take part in it. I’m not used to witnessing performances of my music where I’m not the one leading it, so I kept thinking of ways to cue the orchestra and get them to repeat certain sections because the procession was talking longer than we planned.
Thankfully, I had Neal Desby there to conduct for me. Neal was one of my professors in college, and now works as a supervising orchestrator on my team. But, he’s also an amazing conductor. He watched the procession carefully and timed it perfectly, so that right as Raya rounded the top of the hill, the band got to the big modulation and everyone stood up, almost as if it were a cue in a movie! It was pretty spectacular.
(Raya and her dad walking to the ceremony.)
Raya’s aunt Camille began the ceremony by pouring libation, and then we were married by my mentor from college Jim Hopkins.
Toward the end of the ceremony, Jim said to the crowd “If there’s anyone here who feels these two should not be wed, let them play a spooky diminished chord now.” Nerdy music humor. Is it ever inappropriate?
My processional music was wistful and beautiful, but I knew we’d need something more upbeat and fun for the end of the ceremony. So, I crafted an odd-ball arrangement of The Beatles’ “Ob La Di, Ob La Da” for the orchestra, featuring Paul Cartwright on violin.
I asked percussionist Jonathan Ortega to cop Ringo’s drum groove with only a hat and snare, but it worked pretty well. The arrangement was a bit honky-tonk, but it had everybody smiling, which is the important part. Neal Desby described it as “The Beatles meet Butch Cassidy.”
(The wedding party, L-R: Laura, Meghen, Jamie, Tai, Raya, Bear, Brendan, Pat, Steve K. and Steve B.)
Be careful on that cliff!
“Announcing Mr. and Mrs. Bear McCreary and Raya Yarbrough McCreary!”
Brendan, the best man (I think he dug that title), gives his speech and looks like an all-around badass in this picture.
For some reason, whenever I look at this picture, I can’t help but envision the mothership from Close Encounters of the Third Kind rising up behind the hill and hovering over the reception.
(L-R: Luciana Carro, Kevin Grazier, Stu Phillips, Richard Hatch)
It was surreal seeing our family and highschool friends sitting side by side with our musician and filmmaker friends. It was also great to see so many of the BSG gang again. At one point in the reception, I was talking with Stu Phillips (composer of the original BSG) and his classic “Theme from Battlestar Galactica” began playing on the loudspeakers. He leaned over to Richard Hatch (who played Apollo on that series) and said “Hey Richard, they’re playing our music!”
Stu’s theme was not the only unusual musical selection playing during our reception. Rather than hiring a DJ, Raya and I made a playlist of music that we felt represented us. The playlist included such weird tunes “Sit on My Face” by Monty Python, The Masochism Tango by Tom Lehrer and film music classics such as the themes from Ghostbusters, Peewee’s Big Advenutre, Spaceballs and The Secret of NIMH. And right as the food came out, we began playing “The Orgy” from the Conan the Barbarian soundtrack. (If you know that score, you get the joke.)
Click on the image below to see the whole playlist:
As the sun began to set, we finally got the live music! First up, Raya’s dad, Martin, performed his unique blend of folk, blues and Brazillian music. Then, Raya sang a new song she wrote for me, which I’d never heard yet.
She was absolutely stunning, and her performance was flawless. Sure, I wrote an orchestral piece, but I didn’t actually take the energy to perform at the wedding! Raya is the hardest working girl in the muic biz, I think.
(L-R: Martin Yarbrough; Raya Yarbrough & Dan Seeff; Doug Lacy on accordion with the Boingo boys)
Up next, Brendan’s Band took the stage. He performed his original tunes with the Chiang brothers, who he went on tour with this summer. Though only an acoustic three piece ensemble, their tight vocal harmonies and energetic presence filled the entire valley. They were joined later by Carl Sealove on bass and Paul Cartwright on violin.
When they kicked into Brendan’s anthemic R&B tune “Let’s Get Hitched,” Raya and I jumped to the dance floor for what became our first dance, though we never planned an official one. Lyrically and musically, it was the perfect song for the occasion, and we sang along with every verse and chorus. (This song was actually released a couple years ago on the Eureka soundtrack.)
After we cut the cake, the Boingo boys took the stage. Also headed up by Brendan, this was a stripped down version of the epic Halloween shows we’ve played in years past.
The dance floor got pretty crowded once the Boingo tunes started cranking. Warming up with “We Close Our Eyes,” they also did hits such as “Stay” and “No One Lives Forever.”
(L-R: Steve Bartek on guitar, John Avila on bass, Johnny “Vatos” Hernandez on drums)
“I’m so happy dancing while the grim reaper CUTS! CUTS! CUTS! But he can’t catch me. I’m as clever as can be and I’m very quick, but don’t forget, you’ve only got so many tricks… NO ONE LIVES FOREVER!”
The night closed out with Doug Lacy’s band: The Zydeco Party Band. You’ve probably seen Doug as a keyboardist in our Halloween shows, or heard him as an accordion player on Eureka, but you’ve never seen anything like his band. These guys are one of the best zydeco bands in the country, and they had us all dancing for hours.
At the end of a long day, Raya and I watched the area empty out until we were the last ones there. We stood on the cliffs overlooking the water, like we did 8 years ago, and breathed in the brisk oceanside air.
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The images you saw here are highlights from our complete Wedding Photo Gallery, which you are welcome to enjoy by clicking on this link:
There you can find high resolution versions of all these images, as well as quite a few more. Thanks are due to our incredible photographers Andrew Craig, Dennis Tannen and Larry Reeves.
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After a summer like this, we’d be thrilled to have a couple weeks off to chill out. However, with the premiere of The Walking Dead, and the scoring of The Cape around the corner for me, that’s not likely. And Raya has some exciting projects coming up too, including work on a new studio album. She’s started her very own blog on the subject, and created a website where fans can chime in and help her with the creative process as she begins this new, very personal and autobiographical album. If you enjoy reading my blog, you’re sure to get a kick out of it: www.RayaYarbrough.com.
Thanks for skimming through the “Summer Scrapbook.” I hope these entries were more entertaining than the average vacation photos. Check back here soon for new entries about the forthcoming Human Target soundtrack CD, Caprica, The Walking Dead, Knights of Badassdom, The Cape and much more.
So Say We All!
-Bear & Raya