Grupo Super Nova is Cumbia band from Holland, MI, comprised of the Garcia brothers, who immigrated from Mexico when they were children. We decided on their original song, “Sufro Por Tu Amor” (“How Long Must I Suffer for Your Love?”) written by Christian Paul Garcia when he was 16.
Here’s where my job as an orchestrator became interesting. Cumbia is a Latin style that features a strong backbeat to create upbeat, danceable music. Upbeat and danceable are not typically an orchestra’s forte… Further complicating the task is that Super Grupo Nova already includes an electric bass and drum set, so I had to find ways to have them complement each other rather than fight.
A few notable moments:
1:45 Grupo Super Nova’s original recording began with a quiet synth pad and a digital harp arpeggio. It translated beautifully into solo violin and string pizzicato.
3:26 I love this string ostinato against the song’s melody. Together, they really soar.
4:00 This orchestral interlude felt just right–a brief moment for the orchestra to take the lead, with the melody volleying between sections. It was also at this point in the performance that the rhythm gelled between the band and the orchestral percussion. (In retrospect, we should have put the band on the percussion side of the orchestra so they could hear each other.)