A new immersive orchestral experience has brought back the spirit of live performance in a socially-distanced environment. With audio amplifier solutions from LEA Professional, residents in South Bend, Indiana, can once again enjoy the sounds of their local city orchestra in a more intimate and experimental setting.
The new listening installation ‘Octet’ came about as the South Bend Symphony Orchestra needed to re-think its performances after the pandemic forced a number of cancellations.
“It was very important for us to not only give something back to our community — which was starved of live performance for the last few months — but also to invigorate our musicians,” said Halle McGuire, Director of Development Programs, South Bend Symphony Orchestra. “We knew that everyone was combating a level of Zoom fatigue and we needed to think outside of the box as to how we could safely produce performances.”
The result was Octet, an immersive installation that is sensitive to COVID-19 restrictions with no member of the orchestra in the room. Instead of performing live, the South Bend Symphony Orchestra pre-recorded all instruments individually and the recordings were then mixed and the music delivered through high-quality speakers in a gallery, amplified by LEA Professional IoT enabled solutions. While an individual standing in the center of the installation will hear the instruments in a perfectly balanced surround-sound, there’s also the option to move closer to any individual speaker and virtually isolate the individual part played by any of the musicians.
For McGuire, the intimate and exposing nature of Octet truly shines a spotlight on each player and shows how their part contributes to the overall sound.
“The installation has not only opened everyone’s eyes to alternative performance set ups, but it has also brought the sound of the orchestra to a brand-new audience who otherwise might never have discovered the Symphony,” commented McGuire. “While the last few months have been extremely difficult, one silver lining is the new innovative thinking that has come about as a result. Octet is not simply a solution to the current crisis, but a fully-immersive experience that will live on long after the pandemic is over.”
The project, which was executed and installed in collaboration with Eric Friedlander, Owner at Tower 21, is a unique collaboration between local players. The South Bend Symphony Orchestra and Riverlights Music Festival united together to produce Octet with production and installation assistance from South Bend Civic Theater and the South Bend Museum of Art.
“With the positive feedback from this project, we have begun conversations with all of the players involved, including LEA Professional, as to how we can utilize this installation approach in the future,” said Friedlander. “The system is entirely portable and scalable, from educational facilities to outdoor spaces, we are excited to explore the endless possibilities the solution brings us.”
The collaboration of so many local organizations is a testament to the strength of the audio community in South Bend, a city widely known for its roots in audio innovation.
“This project exemplifies the strength of the arts community in South Bend, with local organizations coming together to overcome the challenges of the pandemic and find new ways to bring performances to the city,” said Brian Pickowitz, VP of Marketing at LEA Professional. “Hopefully, the ingenuity and perseverance that made this project possible can inspire other musicians and arts organizations around the world to work together and invent new ways to keep their passion for performance and the arts alive.”
‘Octet’ was available to view at the South Bend Museum of Art until the end of 2020 and will tour galleries and educational facilities around the region through 2021.
About LEA Professional:
Headquartered in South Bend, Indiana, LEA Professional was founded to provide dealer/integrators in the professional AV market with the highest-performing, best-connected amplifier technology possible. Privately held, LEA Professional is led by industry veterans with proven capabilities on the executive, engineering and channel aspects of professional AV. The company was founded in 2019 and is organized to be a major force in professional AV. Visit leaprofessional.com to learn more and follow LEA at facebook.com/leaprofessional, twitter.com/leaprofessional, Instagram.com/lea_professional and linkedin.com/company/lea-professional.