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Meyer Sound Connects 13,000 Youth to the "World's Most Exciting Orchestra"
Hailed by The Times of London as "the most exciting, most joyful, most exotic orchestra in the world," the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra enraptured 13,000 young Canadians late last year with an electrifying performance in Toronto's Rogers Centre, home to the Toronto Blue Jays of Major League Baseball. In order to effectively connect musicians to audience, Montreal-based Solotech applied a system of Meyer Sound MILO line array loudspeakers to the retractable-roof stadium, transforming it aurally into a fine concert hall.
Produced by Toronto-based Glenn Gould Foundation, the student concert was the culmination of a three-day celebration honoring Dr. José Antonio Abreu, founder of the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra and recipient of the 2008 Glenn Gould Prize.
"I'm sure it was a transforming moment for the young people there," says Brian Levine, managing director of the Glenn Gould Foundation. "It was a breathtaking musical experience, and it ended with the shouting adulation you'd expect for rock superstars."
Levine realized from the outset that the concert could succeed only if the music was delivered to the audience with an accurate balance of robust power and delicate subtlety. "Clearly the emotional involvement could not have been achieved unless the music was presented effectively," Levine says. "If they had heard music lacking impact or vibrancy, it simply would not have worked."
David Brazeau of Solotech was tasked with the design specifics, with the goal to tackle challenges imposed by the stadium's long reverberation time and the more than 50 mics on stage. The loudspeaker configuration was anchored by 28 front-facing MILO line array loudspeakers, with 32 MICA line array loudspeakers supplying side coverage. The system also comprised 14 700-HP subwoofers (six flown, eight ground-stacked), four UPQ-1P loudspeakers for corner fill, and ten UPA-1P loudspeakers for front fill and overhead stage monitors. A Galileo loudspeaker management system controlled the system, with tuning by Solotech's David Vincent using the SIM 3 audio analyzer. All audio systems and support personnel were provided through joint sponsorship of Meyer Sound and Solotech. FOH duties were served by John Pellowe of Meyer Sound and former FOH engineer for Luciano Pavarotti.
"I had expected the energetic, colorful Latin selections to have a lot of impact, but I was surprised by the core classical material," says Levine. "The finale of Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony you could equate to a fine concert hall experience. It was effective, powerful, and true to the music."
Yet, it is the concert's impact on the future orchestral musicians and conductors that really matter, Levine explains. "This was an event that touched the lives of many young people and we are gratified that John and Helen Meyer expressed personal interest in sponsoring the project."
The Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra (SBYO) represents the pinnacle of Venezuela's State Foundation for the National System of Youth and Children's Orchestras, commonly known as "El Sistema". Founded in 1975 by Dr. Abreu, the government-funded organization is renowned for its successful development of musical talent through community orchestras and choruses that provide free, high-quality instruction and instruments for students from all socioeconomic groups.