The Meyer system here is very compact, lightweight, and powerful, and gives us really great coverage for the whole field. It is able to reproduce a lot of different styles of music. Most of the music here is classical; we do a little bit of jazz and opera. It's great for all of those things.”
Brad MadixDiablo Digital Engineer
Embraced by the idyllic beauty of Napa Valley’s vineyards and set against a backdrop of verdant rolling hills, Festival Napa Valley intertwines world-class music performances with the region’s renowned wines, delectable cuisine, and warm hospitality.
The festival’s 2023 edition, which took place from July 8–23, featured a roster of extraordinary artists from around the globe, including Spanish guitarist Pablo Sáinz Villegas, Italian singer/songwriter Matteo Bocelli, and Catalonian soprano Serena Sáenz, and hosted the Northern California debut of Lera Auerbach’s monumental Symphony No. 6, Vessels of Light.
Billed as “The Best Days of Summer,” the event aims to make the arts accessible to all through free and affordable concerts, educational opportunities, and spotlights on emerging artists. “Festival Napa Valley is a non-profit arts organization,” explains the festival’s Artistic Producer Sienna Peck. “We run year-round programs that feature a huge range of programs from orchestra and opera to ballet and jazz…we bring in between 300 and 400 unique artists.”
At the heart of Festival Napa Valley’s experience lies a commitment to pristine sound, an integral element that shapes the essence of the event. Meyer Sound solutions provided by San Francisco supplier Sound Image powered several of the festival’s venues, anchored by the main stage at the iconic Charles Krug winery.
The festival takes place in a large outdoor space, yet with seated audiences and low sound levels, it feels very intimate. “The music tends to be quiet, but it needs to be reproduced at very high fidelity,” explains Diablo Digital Engineer Brad Madix, who mixed front of house.
“Some of these nights, we have a full 170-piece orchestra. And, we’re outdoors, so we have to amplify the orchestra because there’s no reverberant field or hall,” he continues. “There are a lot of microphones up there, partially to accomplish that, but also partially to enable our record rig to capture the multitrack for post-production later.”
Capturing studio-quality audio with highly sensitive microphones means every sonic nuance onstage is exposed. “This festival is definitely more complex than, say, your normal rock show,” says Sound Image Monitor Engineer Drew Johnson. “For this particular application, it needs to be clean because of how sensitive everything is on stage, with all the open microphones and the condensers, the small caps.” For this application, he adds, Meyer Sound solutions are an ideal fit. “Their products are crisp, clean, and very responsive.”
The Charles Krug stage is powered by 28 Meyer Sound LEOPARD compact linear line array loudspeakers, four 1100‑LFC low-frequency control elements, and four LINA very compact linear line array loudspeakers, along with 10 MJF‑210 high-power stage monitors and eight UPM-2P ultracompact loudspeakers. The system is managed by a Galileo GALAXY 816 Network Platform.
“The Meyer system here is very compact, lightweight, and powerful, and gives us really great coverage for the whole field,” says Madix. “It is able to reproduce a lot of different styles of music. Most of the music here is classical; we do a little bit of jazz and opera. It’s great for all of those things,” he adds. “Mixing on LEOPARD is great. It’s a really dynamic system. It can be quite powerful. In this context, we’re running it fairly low.”
Meyer Sound systems elevate the Festival Napa Valley experience for performers as well as the audience. “The Meyer system is perfect for classical music and open-air festivals like this,” says Diablo Digital Chief Recording Engineer Greg Price. “It allows perfect pristine audio throughout not only the listening area but also for the artists on stage.”
“Classical musicians are used to concert halls where there’s no amplification,” explains Peck. “As we put them on the main stage here and they’re under microphones, it’s easy to feel insecure and that the sound that’s coming out of your instrument won’t be heard by the audience in the same way. The Meyer rig produces the cleanest, the crispest, the most real sound we’ve heard.”
“The Meyer system and its design is the best you could have for Festival Napa Valley,” says Price. “It is legendary in classical music, opera, and jazz. All throughout the Bay Area, we hear Meyer systems…there is no challenge too difficult within a property or a venue that cannot be addressed with the Meyer system.”
Festival Napa Valley returns to Napa Valley July 12–21, 2024.