‘Empire’ composer and musicians harmonize from home amid COVID-19 pandemic

At first blush, the concept of a remote orchestra doesn’t make much sense. An orchestra is a collection of musicians who produce robust, yet delicate, melodies and rhythms. If the artists of that ensemble are separated, they shouldn’t be able to harmonize and generate the sound that is so enticing, should they?

But in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, composer Fil Eisler and the musicians working on the hit FOX TV show “Empire” still manage to be totally in-sync, despite not sitting in the same studio.

A new documentary short depicts how the “Empire” musicians have adapted and kept their music alive while abiding by stay-at-home and social distancing measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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"Eisler and the EMPIRE team collaborated with various vendors and engineers to capture all the audio from a host of instruments, played at the musicians’ individual homes, and pieced together for the final orchestral sound," according to FOX Entertainment. "This innovation kept them on track to deliver their EMPIRE episode on time for air."

Eisler remarked to Variety on the challenges of prepping and orchestrating remote recordings. "And then when the parts come in, it’s another challenge to collate everything technically and edit every single part to make it sound like a section,” the composer told the publication.

“Some people had recording setups, some people did not, so we had to set them up with gear and show them how to use it as quickly as possible so we could get up in and running,” said Eisler in the doc.

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Later in the short, viewers are treated to a remote recording session with the “Empire” musicians. Each performs their instrument in isolation, but the sounds reverberate, smooth and serene, into a collective, triumphant finish.

“This pandemic is not the end of us. This community can thrive even when we’re on lockdown,” Eisler said. “We can finish up TV shows that are already in [post-production], we can finish up movies that are already in post.”

“We’re all in this together, so think about what else we can pull off if we all put our minds to it,” Eisler said.

Watch “Empire” Tuesday night at 9 p.m. ET | 8 p.m. CT on FOX.

This station is owned by the FOX Corporation.