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Summer Music Festival Gets SR Makeover

For the past 19 years, the Summer Music Festival (Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford, Conn.) has hosted the Connecticut Orchestra, numerous area

For the past 19 years, the Summer Music Festival (Harkness MemorialState Park in Waterford, Conn.) has hosted the Connecticut Orchestra,numerous area symphonies, conductors, and individual artists, such asJames Taylor, Natalie Cole, Peter, Paul & Mary and many others.This year, Sennheiser and Altel Systems, a design/build company inBrewster, N.Y., joined together to revamp the festival’s audio systemfrom the ground up.

Rocco Ferraro, Sennheiser’s VP of finance and administration, whoserves on the music festival’s board, spearheaded the effort. When theSummer Music board first met, the musical director, Paul Bunker, wasexcited with the season’s artistic bookings, but rather chagrined aboutthe sound system’s diminished performance. The existing system wasantiquated, needed repair and was inadequate to cover the lawnseating.

Just a week before the opening of the festival, Jeff Alexander,director of distributed brands at Sennheiser, and Paul Giansante,product manager for Turbosound loudspeakers, toured the venue with thecrew of Altel Systems. Within a matter of days, the team unveiled a newsound system solution. The plan included a variety of Sennheiser andNeumann microphones, some 24 Turbosound loudspeakers and anInnovaSonSy40 console.

Altel VP Stefan Cattaneo, assisted by his systems engineer, DanFabrizi, chose the Turbosound self-powered TQ440SP and TQ308SP speakersto cover an audience of several thousand that’s seated under a tent, aswell as in a lawn area outside the tent. The 440s served as the mainP.A. speakers and were hung left and right of the stage, with a pair ofTQ425SP bass cabinets stacked underneath. The 440s were also placed onthe ground at various locations outside the tent for the lawn audience,with 308s in an outer ring for delays.

“Originally, we thought about using the much larger TurbosoundFloodlight speakers, but it was overkill,” said Cattaneo.“We couldn’t fly anything for the lawn audience so we needed adistributed system that could provide proper level and even coveragewithout being visually obtrusive. The very compact 440s and 308s didthe job. Both pack a lot of punch for small boxes. The 308s as delaysblended nicely with the 440s. There was plenty of coverage, and theircompact design helped preserve the venue’s aesthetic appeal.”

As for mics, the crew chose Neumann TLM 103s for bass and overheadpercussion, the Neumann KM 184s for strings and the Sennheiser MD 421for brass instruments.

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