It was a tight schedule for bringing online a system I had never heard before anywhere, but I was confident in the results, and it tuned up very easily.”
George RellesPresident, George Relles Sound
George Relles first brought Meyer Sound MSL-3 loudspeakers to the Britt Pavilion in 1986, and in 2022 he flew his new PANTHER large-format linear line array loudspeakers in the wooden shell on the verdant Southern Oregon hillside. In the years between, George Relles Sound introduced four other generations of Meyer Sound technology in the same venue, adding up to 36 unbroken years of Meyer Sound systems at the summer-long Britt Music and Arts Festival.
“I’ve always wanted to have a gold-standard PA system at the Britt,” says Relles, “because it’s a wonderful venue to show off a PA. For decades I’ve been in on the ground floor of the newest Meyer Sound loudspeaker systems, and this is where I bring them first.”
Although a smaller pavilion — 2,200 total capacity with 949 reserved seats — in a secondary market, the idyllic location, mild summer weather, and top-notch sound have made “the Britt” a favorite among touring artists. In addition to a three-week classical series, the 2022 schedule of 28 pop concerts includes, among the others, ZZ Top, Norah Jones, Bonnie Raitt, and Chicago.
The new PANTHER line array system arrived in early July, with the transition from the prior LEO Family system taking place only a couple of days later, just ahead of the Jason Mraz show.
“It was a tight schedule for bringing online a system I had never heard before anywhere,” says Relles, who serves as systems tech for nearly all shows. “But I was confident in the results, and it tuned up very easily. I used maybe one U-shaped filter and a couple parametrics, and that was it. One FOH engineer told me it really sounded great, and that I must have spent a lot of time tuning it. ‘No,’ I said, ‘only about an hour, with just fifteen minutes for EQ and the rest for timing front fills with the arrays.’”
Though the LEO Family system had earned kudos for years, Relles says PANTHER has moved the sound up a notch. “It definitely penetrates more consistently up the hill. It is also a much bigger sound, with a really tight low end filling out the sub area.”
The venue’s production director, Derek Cole, agrees. “There’s nothing I don’t love about the new PANTHER rig. I like the look of it, and from walking around I know there’s not a bad seat anywhere, all the way back to the picnic tables 120 yards from the stage. Also, word is out to the bands, and some like Dark Star Orchestra have told me they are excited about using it.”
Mike Sturgill has been with the Britt Festival of Music and Arts for more than 30 years, overseeing production and booking the venue since 1995. “Over the last few years, I’ve had engineers tell me our LEO Family system was the best rig they had mixed on all summer, and I fully expect that will continue with PANTHER. It’s a PA that will carry us a long way into the future.
“There’s no question that George and his Meyer Sound systems have been integral to our success,” Sturgill continues. “George cares about everything, he pays attention to details, he helps mixers get the most out of the systems, and he anticipates problems before they happen. We don’t have to worry about the sound here at Britt, ever.”
Relles has been the exclusive sound provider for the Britt Music and Arts Festival since 1981 and later acquired six Meyer Sound MSL-3 loudspeaker systems in 1986. Relles immediately bought two more systems, bringing all eight to the Britt later that year — then doubling the count to 16 the following year.
Over the decades, Relles continually upgraded to the newest Meyer Sound systems in the first year of introduction: the self-powered MSL-4 in 1995, M2D line array in 2002, MICA line array in 2005, and a LEO Family system (LYON and LEOPARD) in 2015.
“Because I’m a hands-on owner-operator, I really care about the products I use,” he says. “I design the system and tune it myself, and I want to make sure it’s an easy day for the visiting engineers. I’ve worked with some touring engineers who have a reputation for chewing up system techs, and they’ve told me that every time they come here it sounds great.”
In addition to the unbroken string of Meyer Sound systems, Relles’ longevity at the Britt Pavilion also is attributable to his selection of front-end gear, including an SSL L500 mixing console and a collection of microphones for classical and acoustic music encompassing 40 Schoeps models and 50 DPA miniature clip-on condensers. Relles mixes the classical concert series himself, and he also mixes most opening acts of the pop series.
Established in 1963 exclusively for classical concerts, the non-profit Britt Festival of Music and Arts expanded with a pop series in the 1980s. A sampling of acts heard through Meyer Sound systems over the years would include Diana Ross, Ziggy Marley, Willie Nelson, Robert Plant, Joan Baez, Steve Miller, Bob Weir and Ratdog, and Wynton Marsalis. The Britt Pavilion is located in the historic former mining town of Jacksonville, Oregon.