London, UK (May 26, 2020) – As it’s made its way around the world, Bjork’s first theatrical production, Cornucopia, has managed to bewilder and delight audiences, sometimes at the same time. Centered around the music of the singer/songwriter/producer, the show features an Icelandic choir, a live band including a 7-piece flute ensemble, a harpist, a percussion section, water drums, a magnetic harp and a number of invented instruments because…well, did we mention it’s Bjork? While on hiatus during the pandemic, the show is an audio immersion event, and choosing the microphones for all that was FOH engineer John Gale, who turned to Southby Productions and a bunch of Shure mics, including Shure TH53 TwinPlex headsets.
The show was devised and rehearsed at an Icelandic lighthouse and the Backstage Centre production facility in Essex, UK. With the show evolving during that time, recalled Chris Jones, director at Southby, “I suggested we demo all the kit together, so we set up a system in a venue and were really able to trial the whole concept. This proved invaluable, as the show was so unique; all departments had to work very closely together to pull the whole thing off.”
The Cornucopia production was designed by Bjork around a soundscape and opened with a 50-piece choir, all using Shure TH53 TwinPlex headsets allowing them to be hands-free for choreography and movement. Gale recalled, “The role of the choir grew quite significantly as the show evolved. They ended up being in more songs than originally planned as they were the same choir that Bjork sang with as a child and she never sat still. Bjork loves new technology and is happy to embrace it. The show was a constant process of refinement, and the TwinPlex headsets used on the choir allowed me to get so much more level and consistency compared to overhead microphones. They provided a solution which was scalable and the sound quality of the choir was so much better with the TwinPlex headsets.”
The Cornucopia set design is a big metal stage of varying levels, a large LED wall and a solid sealable reverb chamber. all of which can cause interference, block RF transmission and needed consideration when setting up the wireless equipment for the show. Dom Gallagher, RF engineer, explained, “With careful antenna placement to minimize any potential problems, and the occasional flute solo from the audience, the Shure Axient Digital System was stable and performed each time. I conducted my co-ordination with wireless workbench which allows me to build a picture of the venue before arrival, [while] imports from an RF explorer, Axient receiver or the spectrum manager allowed me to check everything was as I expected. One of the great aspects of Wireless Workbench is the support for other manufacturers, so it’s easy to pull everything into one platform. The timeline feature was also particularly helpful as it records channel status information over time, which is perfect for checking stability and dealing with any potential threats to RF stability.”
There are plans for the show to continue to tour other countries including Iceland, Russia, Japan and Australia when pandemic-related production restrictions end.
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