Beneath starry skies at the Adelaide Showground, the first-ever Festival of Orchestra (FOFO) featured six themed concerts performed over ten nights by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (ASO). With grant support from the Australian government’s RISE fund, a program to reignite the arts and entertainment sector, ASO’s goal for FOFO was to showcase the symphony orchestra in new surroundings and through diverse performances. The outdoor series of concerts saw ASO perform music ranging from electronic dance, classical, Broadway, and rock ‘n’ roll to the film score of the award-winning Blue Planet documentary series.
Marking its return to large-scale commercial audiences, ASO turned to L-Acoustics Certified Rental Partner Novatech to flawlessly deliver the novel outdoor orchestral experience. Since establishing a formal production partnership with the Symphony six years ago, Novatech thoroughly understands ASO’s production values and standards and has developed a joint commitment to presenting high-quality products for ASO’s diverse audience.
“The leap into an outdoor amplified situation can be daunting. But because we’ve built up a rapport with ASO on several large projects over the years—including the southern hemisphere debut of L-ISA in a 2018 performance of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in Concert—our partnership was a perfect fit for the Festival of Orchestra,” says Ashley Gabriel, Director of Sales and Marketing at Novatech.
The event posed multiple challenges to the Novatech team. The stage was positioned on the green pitch of the showgrounds, but due to social distancing regulations, an adjacent grandstand was left empty. So SPL needed to be precisely oriented over the pitch while avoiding the empty metal stand area. Surrounding suburbs and a local central business district, with the accompanying urban hum of city train lines, flight paths, and motorways, also posed a challenge. The festival’s timing being at the cusp of summer with weather forecasts swinging from warm to cool throughout the 10-day event meant that sound delivery and performance would require constant monitoring.
Novatech used L-Acoustics Soundvision software to design a suitable system accurately based on the layout of the area and its surrounding structures. For this series of shows, featuring a wide dynamic range of performances, from electronic to film soundtracks, the team designed a system around L-Acoustics K2, relying on its ability to reproduce diverse content accurately.
The system comprised L/R hangs of 15 K2 per side. Two center arrays of six Kara each provided coverage to the center audience area. Filtering specific content to these center arrays allowed Novatech to achieve an immersive experience in the mix. A total of 16 SB28 subwoofers ground-stacked in groups of four distributed across the front of the stage provided power to the low-end. A cardioid configuration helped mitigate low-end spill onto the stage, where sensitive orchestral microphones were in play. Six Kara boxes deployed across the front of the stage acted as in-fill, while six ARCS II were used as out-fill. The delay system consisted of 26 Kara distributed across four delay towers, with additional support by four Syva at the rear of the arena space. The orchestra received pristine, consistent sound monitoring through 28 X8 and X15 HiQ. A total of 45 LA8 amplified controllers drove the entire system.
“As with everything L-Acoustics, getting consistent sound was not an issue at all,” enthuses Novatech’s Gabriel. “It’s a dream to integrate speakers across the system for clear, concise, and high-quality sound output. Being able to meld K2 with Kara seamlessly with the addition of Syva is one of the reasons we’re a purely L-Acoustics production house,” he continues.
Feedback was positive, from both the ASO team and sound engineers mixing the program throughout the 10-day event. “Orchestras are unique beasts with special needs; Novatech has been brilliant at understanding those and delivering on them. It’s hard to imagine how we would’ve delivered this project without a local partner like Novatech on the ground,” says Vince Ciccarello, the Managing Director of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. “They’ve been able to plan, meet, get onto issues as they arise, and be out on-site regularly with full attention to detail, which has been critical for such a big undertaking.”