With his international tour with the San Francisco symphonic orchestra cancelled due to pandemic restriction, French cellist Gautier Capuçon responded with a free tour of rural France. And when his concert in Mansle was threatened by weather, he looked to a sound engineer and a sound equipment that were up to the various challenges that ensued.

Gautier CapuçonEntitled Un Été en France, the virtuoso violinist was accompanied by either pianists Jérôme Ducros or Samuel Parent on the tour.

‘When Gautier Capuçon’s team announced that he was going to tour France, the towns and villages wishing to host the shows were invited to contact him,’ explains sound engineer Léopold Randon de Grolier. ‘He received well over 600 requests in 48 hours.

‘During the exchanges with the artist, we received a technical sheet with expected references in terms of microphone placement and preferred sound systems,’ he continues. ‘The precision and fidelity of the sound required for classical music is extremely important but – thanks to APG and Radio Semnoz – we were able to supply a top sound recording and PA system that was perfectly adapted to the configuration and style of music.’

While APG’s Uniline Compact (UC) range is flexible enough to support a wide range of musical genres, it is particularly well suited to classical music – according to APG Sales & Support engineer, Maxence Castelain: ‘APG’s IsoTop technology provides a more natural sound from the lower midrange level thanks to a coaxial arrangement of a paper cone loudspeaker and a compression chamber loaded by a phasing piece. This reduces distortion and offers a more natural sound.’

‘Classical music concerts usually happen in venues that are acoustically adapted to this genre, so sound reinforcement isn’t the norm,’ Randon de Grolier offers. ‘Therefore, you must be reasonable in your approach and try to support the acoustic sound, faithfully, without distorting the artists’ sound. This means having experience with classical instruments, knowing the qualities of particular microphones, and combining dynamic and static microphones to achieve accurate sound. The quality of sound expected by classical artist is close to the one they’ve used to when recording albums.

‘I generally record the sound checks to broadcast them into the sound system, so that the artist can listen and give his opinion on the sound in the venue. The feeling of the artist is more important than anything else, because they know the sound of their instrument best, and the acoustic result they want to achieve.’

Although the sound system was reliable, the same could not be said for the conditions in which it was deployed. High risk of thunderstorms in Mansle prompted the show organisers to move to an indoor venue, reducing capacity from 3,000 to 800 people.

‘We had to adapt ourselves and the sound system accordingly,’ says Randon de Grolier. ‘The intended system for the racecourse consisted of two stacks of four APG UC206W on top of two UC115B bass speakers, per side. To this main system, two UC206N per side were to be added on stands to cover the crowd on the outside. Obviously, this would have been beyond overkill for the smaller town hall in Mansle.’

APG’s Uniline Compact system allowed him to set up a distributed point source system, using two UC206Ns on stands to reach the audience at the back. In addition, a UC206W was stacked on top of a UC115B, per side, placed in the centre, to cover the first half of the hall across its full width.

Gautier Capuçon‘The Uniline Compact loudspeakers allowed easy adaptation from outside to inside, simply by reducing the number of boxes and distributing them in a thoughtful way in relation to the acoustic characteristics of the room,’ Randon de Grolier adds. ‘The combination of the W [wide] and N [narrow] models makes the system truly adaptable.’

The UC’s speed of set-up allowed the engineer to fine-tune the placement of microphones. He knew he could also count on the technical support of APG’s Maxence Castelain and Alexis Reymond, who assisted him from logistical planning through to the day of the concert.

‘Mansle multipurpose hall’s concrete walls, ceiling, and floor made intelligibility a major issue,’ Randon de Grolier says. ‘Thanks to APG Live Manager, it was fairly easy for me to set up the system quickly and obtain accurate and precise sound, with faithful rendering of the sound sources. On the amplification side, we had a DA:50 integrated DSP amplifier (for the UC206W and UC115B) per side and a DA:15 (for the UC206N). For the microphones, we kept the same configuration as for the outdoor show: DPA 4099 and AKG C414 on cello, two DPA 4099 and two Schoeps MK4 active booms for the piano, plus a suspended pair of DPA 4015s and an ambience pair of DPA 4006’s. For mixing, I used a Yamaha TF3 console with Dante, in conjunction with a Yamaha TIO1608-D stagebox.’

Despite last minute changes, the show was a success, demonstrating the resilience of the live production industry in challenging times. ‘I received wonderful feedback from the artist and his team on the sound of the concert, both during the sound check and afterwards,’ Randon de Grolier says. ‘The artist’s wife, who is also a trained cellist, attended all the concerts on the tour and singled out the quality of the sound on the Mansle date. As for the audience and the press, there was excellent feedback. In short, everyone seems to have had a great time, and the adaptability of the APG system we chose had a lot to do with that.’

Reflecting the event, the city of Mansle has renamed the hall Salle Gautier Capuçon, with a ceremony to be held later this year.

More: www.apg.audio

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