At long last, our score of Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” is available for purchase! Read Sabrina’s thoughts on this ATLYS favorite below!
This arrangement is inspired by Ed Sheeran’s top-charting hit of 2017. Specifically, the second version of “Perfect” that featured one of our all-time idols, Beyoncé. In an interview, Sheeran told a story about how nervous he was to reach out and collaborate with someone who was so iconic and celebrated. Still, with a fearless attitude, he took a chance and asked anyway – and we are so glad he did! Beyoncé’s one-of-a-kind voice is a worthy pursuit to recreate on a string instrument – look out for those “solo Beyoncé moments” in the cello (m. 28) and the viola (m. 32) part.
The concept for this piece first surfaced in late 2018, admittedly with the primary hope of attracting younger audiences. Completely unfamiliar with the song, we “binge-listened” to it one day while on the road between shows. On the 5th or 6th time through, our cellist Genevieve mentioned that the chord progression could work well with the American hymn “Amazing Grace.” As she drove, we sang along to figure out just how the two melodies could co-exist, and I quickly notated it. This being one of my first full-length, stand-alone string quartet arrangements, I sought the advice of my dear friend, Ari Fisher – a brilliant Los Angelas-based composer and string expert. He sat with me over the phone as we tweaked each detail and enriched harmonies in ways I could only dream about!
Coincidentally, Ari had recently worked on a version of “Amazing Grace,” in which he re-imagined the harmonic structure. Ari insisted that I use his orchestration of “Amazing Grace” with a breath-taking cello solo to end the piece (m. 46) – how could I say no? There is not a single doubt in my mind that the success of this piece stems directly from Ari’s help.
Considering Sheeran’s fame and accolades we may find his story of being self-conscious ridiculous. I find it relatable and moving as it is normal to have doubts and pre-conceptions that hold us back from our dreams at any point in our life. We could never have guessed that this arrangement would become an instantaneous favorite with audiences of all ages, and not just with a younger crowd. Within months of its release on Spotify, “Perfect” surpassed 1,000,000 streams. Sheeran’s example reminds us that we should always strive to dream big and reach for the stars! We hope you enjoy this arrangement of “Perfect” and that it inspires you in the same way it has inspired us.