Opening with a single pianist on a Steinway, the song began with Rihanna's recorded voice singing the song's hook, then showed Jay walking into a gothic room with high ceilings and the black-clad orchestra packed onto a stage. Jay, wearing a cool tux with no tie, performed his verse while holding the golden Super Bowl trophy high, as action clips of both teams scrolled behind him. The song continued, cutting between footage of Jay at the orchestra's helm, football footage and action-heavy shots of the orchestra members performing.
The clip was shot in New York last Tuesday and featured approximately 65 musicians from the Rutgers Symphony Orchestra and the Rutgers Sinfonia, according to the Rutgers University Web site and MyCentralJersey.com.
Maestro Kynan Johns said the school was approached about the job last month, presumably because the composer of the piece had previously worked with the Rutgers marching band. "It's a totally different part of the performing arts,'' said Johns, director of orchestras at Rutgers' Mason Gross School of the Arts. "For classical musicians, it's not really what we teach and not really what we do. I think [it was valuable for] the students to see how another side of the performing arts industry goes about their work, and the amount of detail they go into for just two minutes.''
Johns said last week's video shoot would help his students to see that "it takes a lot of time to get pop music to that level." George B. Stauffer, Mason Gross' dean, said last week, "We're extraordinarily proud to have our students rubbing elbows — and touching knuckles — with Jay-Z." Melissa Healy, a flautist and doctoral student, told MyCentralJersey.com that it was an honor to work with Jay-Z.
"There are a lot of people out there who are really good performers but are not actually that talented,'' she said. "To get to work with an artist of that caliber is rare."