Bernstein’s Mass in d&b Soundscape at Brevard Music Center

audiotechnik Soundscape - Brevard Music Center Mass, Bobby Bradley

Honouring the intentions of composer Leonard Bernstein, Brevard Music Center, Artistic Director, Keith Lockhart, set himself a task: to capture the spirit of a classic performance in a contemporary environment.

The Summer Insitute and Music Festival, has created a new kind of liturgy in its content and technology due to the quadraphonic sound that was used. “Keith is a renowned conductor. He had performed the Bernstein ‘Mass’ before and wanted the audience to have that quad sound experience as Bernstein had originally intended,” explained Iris Design Sound Engineer Brady Hislop. “The Whittington-Pfohl Auditorium is a semi-outdoor space not designed for amplified music. There is a back wall with a resonator which helps a little, and they have invested in a performance shell for the stage which has made a positive improvement. As well as the issue of quad sound, what was wanted was the sort of optimum acoustic properties for classical music found in contemporary concert halls. That’s why we elected to use Soundscape.”

Iris Design is a partnership between Hislop and Bobby Bradley, forged in 2006 in New York City they have worked many projects in live music, theatre, and broadcast. They became vendors for the Brevard Music Center Summer Festival around the same time. “We started out with a used pair of d&b Q7s, 4 MAX monitors, a couple of new D6s, some E3s and Q-SUBs. We’ve been using and investing in d&b systems ever since” explained Hislop. “Keith asked about a quad type experience. This was obviously important to his artistic vision. I knew a lot about Soundscape already and had experience moving sounds around for placement in musical theatre. Soundscape is state of the art and promised a more consistent experience for the audience which is what I wanted and what it delivered.”

Hislop created a full 360-degree Soundscape implementation; a frontline of 7 equally spaced d&b Y10P loudspeakers hung directly beneath the stage truss with a  d&b V-SUB to each side, d&b E6 for front fill and d&b E8s deployed around the sides and back. “We also used a pair of d&b V10Ps to cover the lawn areas and used the mono downmix function in the d&b DS100 as the source. The V10P with their horn loaded mid-range did a great job covering the area.”

Bernstein’s intended form of “Mass” is quasi-theatrical in performance and featured three choirs: formal, boys, and street singers. As well as an orchestra, a marching band and rock band took part. Lead voices moved physically about stage within the narrative, while a flute solo is moved around the listening environment; one of several poignant emotional highlights.

“The show moves very quickly through jazz, to rock, and choral, so we also used some room emulation signatures (En-Space) when the music source required it. Some needed a touch of reverb, elsewhere we needed something very clean to leave the voices distinct and discernible. With that ability, we were able to make it all of a piece, even the pre-recorded stuff just blended right in” Hislop explained. “We had mics for the three choir elements, the principal singers were on cardioid mics, and within En-Scene we were easily able to drag them around as they moved around the stage – so what the audience heard always matched to where they were. We also put mics into parts of the orchestra, to make it all sound and be more natural in the listening experience.”