The Eden Project hosted BBC coverage of the recent Children In Need fundraising event, employing Allen & Heath's new iLive digital mixing system to manage audio for two musical events that evening. Since opening in March 2001, the Eden Project has become one of the UK's most visited tourist attractions. A former clay-mining pit, the location has made it a great proposition for large music events, including Live 8's Africa Calling concert.
Comprising an iDR-64 mix engine with iLive-144 control surface, the iLive system was initially installed in Eden's Warm Temperate biome, where the Carnawn Ladies Choir sang a mixture of Christmas and traditional Cornish songs.
"The Biome's dimensions are 135 meters long, 35 meters high and 65 meters wide, and with many twists and turns, open spaces and enveloping vegetation, it is acoustically challenging to fill all areas," explains Steve Yelland from SPS Systems, which manages many of Eden's AV requirements. "However, iLive—feeding an EM Acoustic speaker system—filled the biome with the choir's pure harmonies. Visitors were encouraged to walk around to enjoy the performance anywhere in the dome, and as the choir sang without accompaniment, I had the opportunity to create a rich soundscape over the biome."
Moving from the Warm Temperate biome—which emulates the climate of the Mediterranean, Southwest Australia, and parts of South Africa and California —the system was positioned outdoors to manage audio for the Eden Choir, which entertained visitors and BBC viewers with Cornish folk songs. The event culminated in a rendition of the renowned folk song "Cornish Lads," highlighting the loss of traditional local industries. Lifesize paper lanterns positioned around the natural arena reflecting themes in the song were lit in turn, and the event ended in a spectacular firework display.
"For iLive's first outing, we didn't go for an easy option—we like a challenge!" explains Allen & Heath MD Glenn Rogers. "Firstly, we moved the system midevening to cater for both indoor and outdoor events, which also meant that the equipment was relocated from the warm biome to the cold and rain of a November evening in the UK. iLive took only minutes to set up a second time, and despite the inclement weather, it proved it could withstand the elements."
"This was the first time I had used the iLive system, and within 10 minutes I had worked out all the controls—it's surprisingly intuitive to navigate for a digital console, and I didn't feel intimidated mixing live after only a short time with it," Yelland adds. "It was a hectic evening running two events with different setups in two completely different environments, but I felt comfortable using the system, and it went without a hitch. I'm keen to use iLive again for Eden events as not only is it proven to be easy to set up and run; it is also compact and portable, and can cope with outdoor conditions."
For more information about Allen & Heath, visit www.allen-heath.com. For more information about the Eden Project, visit www.edenproject.co.uk. Get your touring update at mixonline.com/livesound/tours.