Sting, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Tour Profile

Jul 27, 2010 3:45 PM, By Sarah Benzuly

RE-WORKED CLASSICS ARE IMAGINED FOR THE STAGE

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Sting performing with the London Symphonic Orchestra at Concord, Calif.’s Sleep Train Pavilion

Sting performing with the London Symphonic Orchestra at Concord, Calif.’s Sleep Train Pavilion

Any consummate artist wants to up their game. Take their musical vision in a new direction. Work with new artists. Try any number of different creative avenues. Sting is that type of artist. In 2006, he teamed up with Bosnian guitarist/lutenist Edin Karamazov, releasing a fine collection in Songs From the Labyrinth. This year, Sting is hitting stages across the world with London’s celebrated Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, reimagining his classic tunes for the symphony, employing arrangers Rob Mathes, David Hartley, Nicola Tescari and Vince Mendoza to help with the transformation.

To make sure that the magic happening onstage translates effectively to each sold-out crowd, Sting turned to front-of-house engineer/Clair Global senior director of engineering Howard Page, with whom the artist has worked before, or, as Page says, “I usually do all the engineering and design of all our Clair systems and tours and then leave it to the lads, but when Sting says jump, I jump!” The two worked together during the latter part of last year, mixing various one-off shows, and “Sting insisted I be involved in this current tour.”

Front-of-house engineer Howard Page (right) and Clair systems 
engineer Markus Meyer.

Front-of-house engineer Howard Page (right) and Clair systems 
engineer Markus Meyer.

The Clair Global–provided gear list includes a Studer Vista 5 SR at FOH, which Page finds to sound as “analog warm and pure” as any digital console he’s heard. “The almost unlimited flexibility and power in such a small footprint is a real bonus when we go into small mix areas in concert halls,” Page says. “A truly amazing advance in live sound technology! The only effects I use—or, in fact, any outboard equipment—is a TC 6000 that is digitally interfaced to the Studer. The inbuilt compressors, limiters and gates are so perfect there’s no justification to create any more in/out AD/DA conversions, which always ruins the absolute purity of the final result.”

The Studer console has also met the challenge of the number of inputs required by not only mixing for Sting, but the orchestra. Page says he’s maxing out at about 78 inputs, mainly due to the fact that he has individual clip-on mics for each and every one of the strings. Page employs what he calls the best mic he has ever heard on violins: a DPA 4099V. “For this style of show, where we are going indoors and out, they are truly a life-saver,” he enthuses. “Open overhead mics on the strings would just not work for this extremely dynamic show as all-show long, in every venue, I would be constantly up against a feedback threshold point.

“The key to mixing the orchestra is how you set up the layout of the inputs and the VCA submaster controls on the console to break down the sections of the orchestra into musically logical parts,” Page continues. “That then enables you to literally follow the arrangements within each song and sit those sections musically exactly right for each texture portion within the arrangements. Dynamics shifts can be changed on songs by creating separate masters for the group musicians, as well as the overall orchestra.”






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