End customer: City of Grevenmacher/Luxembourg
For the of 750 year jubilee of the town charter a musical show was produced at the marketplace in Grevenmacher. The show included a big orchestra, a pop band, a clarinet ensemble, a percussion group, a church organ (not on the stage), three choirs, several vocal soloists and two narrators.
Special challenges / difficulties:
One special difficulty was the place the performance should be given. The housing which surrounded the place, reached very close to the spectators' area. Another challenge was the fact that a lot of performers had to find their place on stage simultaneously. Three choirs were to appear on stage. I had to find a solution that made it possible for choirs to enter the stage during the ongoing show. A quite special task was the fact that time pressure allowed only one single rehearsal on stage to take place.
In 2000 the first preliminary talks started about a project scheduled for 2002 in Grevenmacher/Luxembourg. A big stage spectacle was to take place on the central market square in the middle of the town. The 750ste jubilee of the town Charter for Grevenmacher was the occasion of this event. The title of the production was: "Maacher Fräiheet". Georges Urwald, the musical leader of the project, brought together a lot of musicians, singers and actors from the sphere of the town. He also wrote the music for this spectacle. The dates for both performances were fixed for the 15th and 16th June 2002. In the performance expressive stories out of the 750-year history of Grevenmacher were to recall the past. A pub table, were two men, the "Krunnemécke", were placed stood at the left front side of the stage. These guys had comments on everything and where led the spectators through the story.
I was charged with the realization of this event. That meant the planning and coordination of the stage construction, all the sound issues like reinforcement and the complete infrastructure around the stage.
That the event was to take place in June but that was no guarantee for nice weather. So I had to take care of sufficient rain protection not only for the performers but also for the light- and sound equipment. The fact that approx. 300 people, mainly with instruments, had to find place on stage and at the same time there should be space left over for the play scenes was a challenging task.
So we needed more than a small readymade stage. The final stage had a width of 23 m and a depth of 13 m. For rain protection reasons the roof had to have an extension at the front side. Another challenge for the stage construction was the fact that the marketplace was slightly sloping. The three choirs had to enter the stage in quick succession during the running event. So we needed an extra access to the stage at the back. A pretty wide staircase was attached to the stage for this purpose. Another detail concerned the roof. It had to be relatively high above the stage surface. The reason for that were some special scenes. 40 m behind the stage was a church and near to the stage there was house with just the wall standing. Both buildings played an important role in the play and I had to ensure that all the spectators had good view on them. Near the end of the event, there was musical interaction between the stage and church organ. In addition the church got a special illumination from the in- and outside during the scene. The house had its appearance as a ruin for the background of a scene which played, with lots of light and fog, during the war.
Because of the difficult acoustic environment it was very important to position the audio mixing board at a place with good audible conditions. Therefore I placed the desk directly in between in audience. In order to keep the needed roof as small as possible I had to choose a mixing desk of small size. To compensate for the acoustical shadowing of the roof I used 2 small Delay loudspeakers behind FOH.
As mixing board I took the PM1D of Yamaha which was pretty new on the market at that time. This desk gave me the opportunity to handle the required 114 input channels on a very small dimension. Other reasons that spoke for that desk were the well-integrated scene automation engine and the possibility of doing the stage monitoring from FOH. The monitor setup was a combination of conventional floor loudspeakers and wired/wireless InEar systems.
The 114 input channels were never running all together during the show. And not every instrument by far had its own pickup. But the structure of the event made such a high number of inputs necessary. Thus some instruments were played only once in the whole show. Nevertheless, it was not possible during the continuous show to move or replace any microphone without disturbing the stage action considerably.
The pickup of three choirs required a special approach; for optical reasons the stage was open at the rear end. So there were no reflections from back walls or from the roof. The sound energy of the singers would "blow away" directly because of missing reflexions of a back wall. Therefore, I had to consider a pickup system that made it possible to place many microphones relatively close to the singers. Another factor was that 3 different choirs would appear on stage. An adult-, a youth- and a children's choir appeared at different positions. All that meant that the pickup had to happen with directed microphones in different height adjustments. I excluded the use boom stands for choir microphones because of rather high total number of participants on stage.
I decided to use a special construction for the positing of the microphones. We put two moveable trusses in the relevant area spread over the whole width of the stage. We hung u-shaped steel profiles (two for each choir) from the trusses with steel ropes to exactly the height we needed for each choir. The microphones were attached to the profiles at the right position. With these profiles I had also a much better possibility for the direction of each microphone. The cables needed for these microphones were running along the steel ropes from the roof. That minimized the tripping hazard on stage a lot.
To increase the authenticity of the play scenes I installed several pressure zone microphones along the front edge of the stage.
In order to keep the sound level on stage as low as possible we covered the drum set with some acrylic glass panels.
Another "specialty" of this event was caused by the big number of participants. During the whole rehearsal period it was never possible to bring all participants together. There was only one single dress rehearsal with technique for to whole show at 14th June 2002.
On the morning of the 15th, based on this sigle rehearsal, I had to program the scenes automation for the needed mutes and all other necessary scene- specials by hand.
Thanks to the very close and creative cooperation with George Urwald, the municipality of Grevenmacher and a lot of important assistants in the background, this very complicated and difficult event turned into a successful party - from the people of Grevenmacher for the people of Grevenmacher.
Georges Urwald at WIKIPEDIA
Christiane Schiltz-Urwald at Luxemburger Autorenlexikon
Maacher Fräiheet 2002 at georgely.lu
Tunes from Maacher Fräiheet 2002