As the 350th anniversary of the death of German composer Heinrich Schütz in 1672 approaches, Orchestronik is premiering a series of immersive reworkings of the Baroque composer’s pieces that combine orchestra, choir and electronics using L-ISA Studio and an L-Acoustics immersive speaker configuration. The project was jointly developed and produced with the Heinrich Schütz Musikfest and its artistic director, Christina Siegfried.

German musician/composer Fabian Russ, founder of Orchestronik, opened the Heinrich Schütz Musikfest with the first part of his Kaleidoscope of Spaces series in 2019 – 400 years after Schütz published his collection of 26 polychoral pieces.

Orchestronik founder Fabian Russ‘It’s a cycle of four parts,’ he explains. ‘The fourth part will be premiered next year in Leipzig. For every piece we get the recordings from the German label Carus, recording Schütz’s complete works with the Dresdner Kammerchor under Hans Christoph Rademann. When we do a new rework, we get the multitrack material and I start to work.’

While some of his initial Orchestronik installations involved a eight-speaker horizontal set-up, Russ has been able to scale his spatial audio up to a 32 loudspeaker dome using L-Acoustic loudspeakers in collaboration with local L-Acoustics Certified Partner Distributor, Groh Distribution. The company, located in Hamburg, Germany, acquired 32 L-Acoustic X4i compact coaxial speakers, two subwoofers and an L-ISA Processor that enable Russ to create a larger dome for playback of his immersive Schütz reworks.

Russ has been using Ableton Live as his DAW for more than ten years: ‘Within Ableton there’s a tool called the Simpler, a simplified sampler, that’s my main tool. I take the recordings, put them into the Simpler and scan for interesting sounds. I add sounds and maybe an orchestra or choir.’

To create his spatial audio mixes he needed a system that works well and integrates into the workflow of Ableton. ‘From the very beginning, L-ISA Studio worked super-well,’ he says.

Using the L-ISA Studio suite, Russ creates an initial immersive mix on his laptop, monitoring through stereo speakers or in binaural through headphones with head tracking. When finished, he passes the mix to sound engineer, Carlo Grippa, hose acquisition he initiated with Fabian Russ at the Radialsystem arts and performance centre. ‘The house supports us in the implementation of the installations with its L-ISA,’ Russ says. The L-Acoustics speaker system in the venue’s main hall includes five L-Acoustics A15 arrays with KS21 subwoofers.

‘I think the most impressive thing we are still experiencing with L-ISA is the space,’ Russ continues. ‘In most every 3D audio tool or processor we tried, the reverbs were never really satisfactory, but L-ISA is another dimension. It creates a world that doesn’t really exist but we make it exist.

Fabian Russ wirking with the immersive dome‘You can put things so far away and create such impressive spaces that I’ve never heard before – if you have the right signals and one of the best engineers and a good composition. Often, we add another reverb coming through the channel in Ableton to create spaces – when you move the signals in the L-ISA Controller, they move very precisely, especially in the height range.’

Russ and Grippa first encountered L-ISA technology in 2018 and subsequently visited L-ISA Labs in London. They continue to work closely with Sherif El Barbari, Director of L-ISA Labs. ‘We saw the user interface, heard L-ISA on site and we were quickly convinced,’ Russ recalls. ‘It’s really well done; it’s clear and elegant and not full of colours and knobs that no one really needs. As a musician, it’s sometimes more interesting to have fewer options to work with than an explosion of possibilities or tons of plug-ins. It’s better to have a good, stable, working system with a good room engine and be able to place the signals and combine them in interesting ways. L-ISA Studio has all the tools that I need, without useless bells and whistles, and I’m producing higher quality material because of it.’

Russ believes that he and Grippa are still at the beginning of experiencing L-ISA Studio’s potential for their Orchestronik productions. ‘I think we only have a small idea of what is possible with all the parameters you have for every signal, like width, panning and the possibility of combining two sources to one stereo source and using the pan spread. I’m planning to start from scratch for my next work in L-ISA, and looking forward to seeing what I achieve,’ he says.

Schütz, who is often referred to as ‘the father of German choir music’, studied polychoral music (using two or more choirs, spaced apart to create an immersive sound) under composer Giovanni Gabrielli in Venice at the beginning of the 17th century. Russ has drawn from Schütz’s works based on religious texts and the composer’s Musikalische Exequien to create his own Kaleidoscope of Spaces cycle. In 2022, all four parts will be presented in the Frauenkirch, a Lutheran church in Dresden, as well as in several other cities in Germany, as part of the Heinrich Schütz Musikfest. Russ is also planning a new piece based on the works of American composer Philip Glass using L-ISA Studio for 2023.


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