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comment: armed man at symphony hall

Postby hooty2 » Thu Nov 30, 2017 2:13 pm

My daughter and I read with great interest Hugh's article on the recent Armed Man concert at Symphony Hall Birmingham.
We always like to get into auditoriums early to nose about and hear how the acoustic behaves as (it) fills up with people.
We wondered what we had let ourselves in for when we saw all the mics, but only one row for the choir, and also wondered why the conductor had monitors.
Before kick off...two couples left our row after the first half, muttering about the amplification.
We had the last seats available right up in back on upper circle. Envelopment and enjoyment was rather reduced...we believe not due to shortcomings in hall acoustic but due to the not complementary balance of the different musicians and our attention drawn to that disparity rather than the music.
My daughter and I, maybe a little biased, believe out own school performance in Tewkesbury cathedral drew more emotion and passion than the symphony hall rendition.
I still cannot listen to the 'charge' without welling up and getting frightened even.
You don't expect an all round sweet spot in such a venue, but the visual mismatch between for example, the female soloist and the big p.a. speakers rather spoiled the evening.
Technically interesting and thought provoking, but a rather dismal night out on the town.
A drunk guy on the train back to university was taking requests on his phone, he had the whole carriage smiling and singing to old motown hits....
there's a moral there if i can find it!
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Re: comment: armed man at symphony hall

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Nov 30, 2017 2:26 pm

Glad it wasn't just me Hooty.

There's another (brief) thread discussing this topic here:

https://www.soundonsound.com/forum/view ... 79#p533179

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Re: comment: armed man at symphony hall

Postby Bob Bickerton » Thu Nov 30, 2017 6:24 pm

Not sure what article is being referred to here, but interestingly I also had the rather challenging task of amplifying the Armed Man a few years ago to achieve balance between choir, soloists and orchestra. As far as I’m aware this is not prescribed in the score, but I understand it’s not uncommon to have to do this with this piece.

My view is that the writing makes it almost impossible for a conductor to achieve acoustic balance. I guess the difference is that when I did it, we received no complaints and in fact most people would have been unaware it was being amplified. ;)

Recently had a similar situation with Jenkins Cantata Memorium which calls for balance between (in our case) a rather small children’s choir, a large oratorio choir, large symphonic forces plus vocal and euphonium soloists. I felt the writing led to a more balanced sound, but it still required intervention.

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Re: comment: armed man at symphony hall

Postby Forum Admin » Thu Nov 30, 2017 6:29 pm

Bob Bickerton wrote:Not sure what article is being referred to here...

This one: https://www.soundonsound.com/people/sounding-orchestra-tecnologica
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Re: comment: armed man at symphony hall

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Nov 30, 2017 6:46 pm

Bob Bickerton wrote:My view is that the writing makes it almost impossible for a conductor to achieve acoustic balance.

Precisely. It was written to be recorded, not performed.

Which begs the question, why would the composer try to conduct it in a public performance?

Was he unaware of the inherent imbalances or did he believe amplification would solve them (and still be acceptable to an audience expecting an acoustic performance)?

I like the music, but I wholeheartedly agreed with that audience member -- the CD sounded much, much better than the live performance.

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Re: comment: armed man at symphony hall

Postby Bob Bickerton » Thu Nov 30, 2017 6:47 pm

Thanks for the link.

Agree with Hugh’s comments but I’m curious to know, without being familiar with that particular piece, whether the engineer in that concert was really on top of using the right gear in the right way?

Using high quality condenser microphones and an excellent (and not overrated sound system) and being careful to select patterns and point nulls appropriately, I found it easier to achieve balance than anticipated.

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Re: comment: armed man at symphony hall

Postby Forum Admin » Thu Nov 30, 2017 6:49 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:Precisely. It was written to be recorded, not performed.

Which begs the question, why would the composer try to conduct it in a public performance?

Money?
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Re: comment: armed man at symphony hall

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Nov 30, 2017 7:02 pm

Indeed... :x

But he won't get mine again -- at least, not for a public performance under his baton.

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Re: comment: armed man at symphony hall

Postby ManFromGlass » Fri Dec 01, 2017 6:37 pm

or did the conductor get some bad advice from a "pro" about balancing the sound in the hall?
No disrespect to sound engineers who do a good job but every year in our little town they hold an Elvis Festival and part of the fest is all the impersonators performing for free on the blocked off Main Street. But give some deaf mixer dumbass (did I say that out loud?) bass bins and what do you think the music sounded like? Elvis tunes that kick you in the chest with bottom end?
We don't attend anymore but I have some fantastic pictures of me standing beside Elvi of all shapes, colours and sizes! :bouncy:
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Re: comment: armed man at symphony hall

Postby ConcertinaChap » Mon Dec 04, 2017 8:25 am

ManFromGlass wrote:We don't attend anymore but I have some fantastic pictures of me standing beside Elvi of all shapes, colours and sizes! :bouncy:

Off-topic but on a seasonal note:

Image

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Re: comment: armed man at symphony hall

Postby Wonks » Mon Dec 04, 2017 10:45 am

:clap: :thumbup:
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Re: comment: armed man at symphony hall

Postby Martin Walker » Mon Dec 04, 2017 10:10 pm

With the state of the world today I expect ten Elvises would be just as welcome as ten Elves :beamup:


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Re: comment: armed man at symphony hall

Postby ManFromGlass » Wed Dec 06, 2017 3:06 pm

Just don't let them sing! :) unless they do Zeppelin covers!
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