Major New York City Arts Festival Adapts With EAW

The Lincoln Center Festival, hosted by New York City’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, occurs annually and typically hosts more than 40 performances across the campus over the course of 20 days.

This year’s festival featured forty-six performances that covered dance, music, theatre, and film from the U.S. and around the world. With many of the events happening on the same days in different venues, it is necessary for festival production to be well choreographed with tremendous care given to the sound reinforcement needs of each act. This year David Jensen and David Meschter, head of production and sound supervisor for the festival respectively, decided to utilize an Eastern Acoustics Works (EAW) Adaptive system to meet the needs of two of the events. To do this, they worked closely with Harrisburg, Pennsylvania-based Anderson Audio, who supplied the system and support for the festival.

The first event was a showing of the film Naked Lunch with live orchestral accompaniment at Alice Tully Hall. “Composer Howard Shore was adamant that the dialog be localized on the screen,” explained Meschter. “This was challenging since the screen was upstage with the orchestra in front of it and the jazz quartet positioned even further downstage. I was looking for a system that could be hung high enough to deliver the vocals ‘above’ those components while keeping it focused. Anna was perfect. Originally, we were just going to reinforce the vocals, but ultimately we used the system for everything.”

Jensen adds, “We ran the film in six tracks – source materials, vocals and other – with the music provided by the live orchestra and the jazz quartet. The goal was for the jazz quartet to be more prominent than the orchestra while making sure people could hear dialogue and other effects from the movie. Anna worked incredibly well for this application.”

The Anna system was ultimately made up of left-right hangs of six modules each and a center cluster of six, hung in the middle, behind the movie screen. The team utilized EAW Resolution 2 software to ensure the system design would achieve their audio objectives.

“Anna was quite successful at making it appear that the movie dialog was coming from the screen, while allowing the music to envelope the room,” Meschter says. “The musicians and conductor were very happy with the result as no one was distracted by the sound of dialogue blowing past them. It did exactly what we needed it to do and sounded great.” The precise vertical control that Anna arrays provided allowed the dialog to be shot over the musicians on stage, keeping it out of the orchestral instruments mics while allowing the dialog to be well distributed across the entire audience.

Shortly after the close of Naked Lunch the Anna system was moved over to Geffen Hall to reinforce the Carlinhos Brown concert. Because Geffen Hall was designed for the Philharmonic, it is a very reverberant room, making it difficult to control sound in reinforced, live applications. The hall is a long, rectangular box with two tiers of seating along the side walls. The challenge is covering those seats without putting more energy on the walls than is ideal.

“It’s a beautiful hall and David Jensen wanted the show’s acoustic treatments to be visually appealing,” explains Meschter. The Carlinhos Brown show was going to be greatly amplified with lots of monitor sound generated on stage that the team did not want projected into the house. In the past they had hung black velour along the sides and back of the stage to deaden the stage a bit. Although effective, Dave Jensen knew that it could be better. Meschter continues, “The needs of this concert are what originally led us to the Anna system. We knew we required something that would help control the sound on the sides of the room and cut it off right before it hit the back wall, minimizing energy splashing around. Anna was the only system we found that could do that.”

Once again Meschter, Jensen and Chris Anderson, owner of Anderson Audio, used Resolution 2 software to design the system to ensure even coverage throughout the venue. This time they deployed a left-right system made up of a total of 16 Anna modules – eight per side – and four Otto subwoofers, stacked in pairs under each column array.

“The system was perfect for Latin, percussion-y music,” adds Anderson. “It went up quickly, was precise and clean, with excellent coverage and sound quality. The show was loud but there was still plenty of headroom. Everyone in the audience seemed to really enjoy themselves.”

Meschter concludes, “I can’t say how happy the Festival and I were to be so supported by EAW and Anderson Audio in this endeavor – it took a team to make this happen. We were trying something new, that we had not used before, which can be intimidating. However, it is also incredibly rewarding when it performs exactly as it was envisioned.”


Photo Caption: Carlinhos Brown reinforced by EAW Adaptive system during a performance at the Lincoln Center’s Geffen Hall.
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EAW: Eastern Acoustic Works

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