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Meyer Sound Powers Aquatic Inspirations at Expo Zaragoza:
For three unforgettable months this summer, Expo Zaragoza transformed the Spanish city into a center of global media attention. Thousands of visitors from all over the world descended on a unique event dedicated to the theme of "Agua y Desarrollo Sostenible"—"Water and Sustainable Development." Over a hundred countries hosted custom-designed pavilions, many of which featured sophisticated audiovisual technologies to showcase the challenges they face in preserving water. Accompanying these pavilions was an extensive program of multimedia shows and music performances by artists from around the world, delivered by Meyer Sound systems throughout the festival grounds.
One of the expo's most compelling presentations was Hombre Vertiente (literally The Pouring Man), a tour de force of innovative sound, light, mime and acrobatics featuring specially commissioned music by composer Gabi Kerpel. Performed in the semicircular Inspiraciones Acuáticas auditorium and produced by the Argentinian theatre company Ojalá, the show begins lightheartedly, with the on-stage characters play-acting and water bombs descending on unsuspecting members of the audience. Before long, however, the mood darkens: the performers who, only minutes earlier, were throwing water around with abandon are suddenly using it as a weapon of war. Inevitably, the water then begins to run out, and mankind is left to fade and die in the desert its actions have created.
Kerpel's music makes extensive use of ethnic instruments and spot effects, creating a wide range of moods and textures. "The recording has a custom multichannel mix—it's surround sound, but not a traditional cinema-type setup like a 5.1 system," explains the show's sound engineer, Roxana Louro of Ojalá, who worked closely with the sound designer, Hernán Nupieri.
The metal construction of the auditorium, together with its concrete floor (an essential hall attribute, given the amount of water used in the production), makes for a challenging acoustic. One of the production team even described it as "essentially, a tin can."
Implemented by Meyer Sound España S.A. and its rental partner Fluge, the system used two hangs of 12 Meyer Sound MICA line array loudspeakers for the main left-right source, complemented by five 700-HP subwoofers mounted under the stage for bass reinforcement. Meyer Sound UPA-1P loudspeakers were concealed under theatrical fabric to act as frontfill, and were also deployed elsewhere in the auditorium for the show's surround channels. MAPP Online Pro acoustical prediction program was used to assist with the system design.
"There are two channels at the rear of the hall, two between the floor and the upper balcony seating, and another at the front using the frontfills for the effects at the start of the show when the main line array PA is turned off," says Louro.
Louro is full of praise for the way the Meyer Sound system has performed: "We have a very dynamic soundtrack, with certain effects like the sound of running water being replayed at a very low level and other sounds like ethnic percussion really testing the speakers. But the system always seems to have plenty of headroom—it's performing well within its capabilities."
To find out more about Expo Zaragoza, visit www.expozaragoza2008.es/.