Constellation is almost miraculous in what it can do. It is a wonderful use of advanced technology to add to our art form of [classical music], which is pre-technology.”
Joshua BellViolinist and Music Director, Academy of St Martin in the Fields
On the evening of October 27, The Appel Room of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York hosted a diverse celebration of music and technology. To mark the first commercial installation of the NADIA integrated digital audio platform for Constellation acoustic systems, Meyer Sound brought together acclaimed violinist Joshua Bell with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble, the Mark Morris Dance Group, Steve Miller, and the Bruce Harris Quintet, the latter introduced by Wynton Marsalis, managing and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Co-presented by Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC) and Meyer Sound, and dubbed “NADIA’s Music Hall,” the invitation-only event underscored the extraordinary acoustical versatility of the Constellation acoustic system, which subtly optimized the room’s aural ambiance for each performance.
Company co-founders John and Helen Meyer were in attendance, with Executive Vice President Helen Meyer and Constellation Project Director John Pellowe making introductions and conversing with the performers.
“We’re excited about this evening because we are about to bring you a unique variety show,” said Helen Meyer in her opening remarks, “featuring some of the world’s most celebrated artists from contemporary dance as well as classical, rock, and jazz music. And we’re doing this so you can hear — and enjoy — how these different musical genres sound naturally their best using The Appel Room’s Constellation acoustic system, recently upgraded with the NADIA platform.”
Violinist Joshua Bell, music director of the illustrious Academy of St Martin in the Fields, led the Chamber Ensemble in works by Vivaldi, Beethoven, and Shostakovich. Between selections, he noted his own prior experiences playing in Constellation-equipped halls “from Berkeley to Singapore.” “Constellation is almost miraculous in what it can do. It is a wonderful use of advanced technology to add to our art form of [classical music], which is pre-technology.”
The Mark Morris Dance Group performed “Dancing Honeymoon” to music transcribed and arranged by Ethan Iverson from historical recordings of Gertrude Lawrence and Jack Buchanan and performed with live instrumental and vocal accompaniment. Beforehand, Morris recalled when his ensemble was the ‘guinea pig’ for the first outing of the first Constellation system, installed in 2006 at Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall. Admittedly nervous about the new technology, Morris said, “I didn’t want to know if it was on or off” but then was both delighted and relieved when “it turned out to sound just great.”
Legendary guitarist and songwriter Steve Miller — who recently joined the Board of Directors of Jazz at Lincoln Center — recounted his fruitful relationship with John Meyer extending back to 1967 when Meyer created a custom amplifier for Miller’s appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival. “John is a perfectionist and the sound in this room is an example of that,” said Miller. “I love playing here.” Miller then treated the gathering to a mesmerizing acoustic treatment of his 1977 hit, “Jet Airliner.”
The evening closed with an interlude of lively jazz from the Bruce Harris Quintet, introduced by Wynton Marsalis. Marsalis took the occasion to comment on his own experience playing in halls around the world, some equipped with Constellation and others sorely in need of the technology.
“On behalf of Jazz at Lincoln Center, I’m pleased to co-present this evening to showcase the debut of NADIA, a high-powered processing engine designed for the venues of the future. NADIA is the new heart of Constellation, which has changed the world of concert halls. When I ask presenters about Constellation, it seems everyone knows what it is, even if they don’t have it. And when I play dry rooms that are not ambient, where the sound really needs a lot of help, I say, ‘Call Helen and John Meyer, the hippest people you are ever going to meet.’”
As part of the celebrations, John and Helen Meyer took the occasion to present a gift of financial support for JALC’s education programs, accepted graciously by Marsalis. Under the leadership of Vice President for Education Todd Stoll, JALC offers programs tailored for students of all ages, from toddlers to adults, to expand knowledge about, and nurture the performance of, jazz music.
“John and I were amazed by the response from both the artists who performed and the guests who attended this truly special evening,” said Helen Meyer following the festivities. “This was a celebration for NADIA, the new digital platform for Constellation, which we proudly named after our granddaughter. It proved to be the ultimate showcase of how we strive to give artists and audiences the best possible experience at the intersection of technology and art.”
NADIA’s Music Hall was designed and produced by Copper Leaf Productions, Marjorie Randell-Silver, Owner/Creative Director.
For the edification of guests not fully familiar with Constellation, John Pellowe gave a presentation, with musical examples, of how the technology can create a wide range of natural-sounding acoustic environments.
The new NADIA platform, including core processor and input/output modules, replaced the prior generation D‑Mitri units from The Appel Room’s original installation of Constellation in 2013. Constellation has transformed hundreds of venues worldwide.