When the Almería City Orchestra began preparations for their annual Christmas Concert they realised that due to COVID-19 restrictions, the venue would need to be different from previous years. However, through the utilisation of d&b Soundscape, the venue was reimagined in the minds of those in attendance.
Almería City Orchestra (OCAL) had chosen to perform Handel’s Messiah for its annual Christmas concert, a musical fixture of the holiday season delivering this semi-dramatic work on a large scale with chorus, soloists and full orchestra. The concert would normally take place in the city’s fortress cathedral, a historic venue originally built in 1524 with influences of Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles, providing a stunning visual backdrop as well as unique acoustic qualities.
In December of 2020, with COVID-19 safety concerns, the show’s production team realised that they would not to be able go ahead with the show in the cathedral as originally planned, and were forced to move to a larger, safer venue — the Auditorium Maestro Padilla — in order to still bring the performance to the city of Almería.
Intent on providing audiences with the same experience as years before, the production team set about recreating the atmosphere and overall acoustic dynamics of the city’s cathedral in the auditorium.
“The challenge was to transform the Auditorium Maestro Padilla into a cathedral, visually, acoustically and through scent, while maintaining the safety recommendations and the highest level of performance,” commented OCAL General Manager, Mercedes Oliver.
The team involved looked to a d&b Soundscape system based around the T-Series to recreate the sound experience of the fortress cathedral inside the auditorium. d&b Soundscape is powered by the DS100 Signal Engine, a revolutionary audio system processor based on a powerful Dante enabled signal matrix and provides unparalleled creativity through its two software modules En-Scene and En-Space.
“The immersive sound was a new element that helped us achieve the desired atmosphere,” continued Oliver. “The exceptional performance by the musicians was supported by just the right amount of reverberation to contextualise the work of a religious building in a sensory way.”
Chelius Salmeron, Mixing Engineer agreed stating “I was lost for words. Immersive sound, video mapping and incense created a cathedral around us.”
d&b En-Scene is a sound object positioning tool allowing the individual placement and movement of up to 64 sound objects. It accurately depicts stage scenarios so that each sound object corresponds both visually and acoustically. d&b En-Space is an in-line room emulation tool which creates and modifies reverberation signatures for any space. These reverberation signatures are emulations derived from acoustic measurements of nine internationally-renowned performance venues and convolved within the audio processor. The production team used a 180° En-Scene set up in the venue, which when combined with En-Space helped recreate the acoustic environment of the cathedral as well as an immersive, controlled sound experience.
“The orchestra is used to performing unamplified and it was important to interfere as little as possible with this transparency. Soundscape helped us to create a natural sounding space without sacrifice,” remarked Juanma de Casas, EAS Manager, d&b audiotechnik Iberia. “Secondly, Soundscape’s acoustic emulation software enabled us to achieve our main objective, which was to simulate a cathedral environment in an entirely different space acoustically. Combining this with the visual sensation of video-mapping the cathedral’s interior onto five surface areas of the auditorium made for an incredible result.”
While the audience may have been seated in a different venue than usual, the acoustic environment felt familiar. “From the moment the audience entered the stalls you could feel the excitement,” commented Producción Técnica TJL Director, Luis Lopez. “This is an integrated show, where the audio, lighting and the visual go hand in hand, the coordinated work of the whole company, the sound department and the video department, resulted in an impressive show.”