Stephan Carroll’s recording Symphony No. 1 in G Major is a full-blown, four-section 40-minute symphony — all recorded with a hybrid virtual orchestra consisting of pro sound libraries, custom samples, and freeware. The composer’s instruments are highly expressive and, given the well-hewn romantic music itself, you have to pinch yourself in order to remember that The Ocean Symphony didn’t come directly from live players. Inspired by a one-week beach vacation in North Carolina, the symphony is an exciting musical expedition indeed. “Opening Fanfare, the Journey & the Arrival” brings to mind both Tchaikovsky (one of Stephan’s primary influences) and classic John Williams film scores, while “The Storm” builds and thunders with raucous majesty. If you’re of the opinion that tonality is old news when it comes to contemporary classical music, you might just learn a thing or two from Mr. Carroll, Keyboard’s much-deserving Unsigned Artist of the Month.
Your mastery of the use of your equipment is first rate. In fact, everything about this project is first rate, and I can’t wait to hear what else you come up with later. The sounds are wonderful; the concept is wonderful. Your interpretation is right with the requirements of the job… I was particularly impressed with your orchestration. There were lots of little subtle changes within the piece that gave the piece lows, mids, and highs… it was a fully fleshed-out and complete and consistent concept from beginning to end. The production is completely professional; this is an outstanding job.
Why spring for a 400-year-old Stradivarius when you can conjure one on your computer? Traditionalists might argue that point, but there’s no questioning the growing power of all-digital composition. This composer’s virtual philharmonic makes its case in every soaring string apex. A lack of compositional training doesn’t show in Carroll’s sweeping modern classical works, which bear that most essential symphonic quality: sheer courage. A film scorer’s feel for drama and a classicist’s sense of balance shine through the brazen timpani runs and whirling string movements.