Sound Effects Crafts Sound Impressive Acoustic at Ellora Caves
Source: PALM Technology
Publishing Date: 21 April, 2022
The Aurangabad circle of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) hosted an elaborate programme to celebrate World Heritage Day; with the organization choose the visually stunning and historically compelling Ellora Caves as the host venue. With the heritage nature of the venue and the lineup of musicians invited to perform with their brand of music, it was vital to have an audio reinforcement that would deliver an optimum audience experience that would befit the theme of the event and the objective that it looked to achieve. Field Production assisting the production responsibilities of Trikaal reached out to Uday Shah, Director of Sound Effects, to execute the acoustic design and setup.
The Ellora Caves is a UNESCO World Heritage site that was built during 600 to 1000 CE; comprising Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain temples in addition to over 100 caves which at one point in history acted as lodging and abode to the travelling Buddhist and Jain monks.
Since this year i.e. 2022, coincides with the 'Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' i.e. the celebration of 75 years of India's independence - the ASI Aurangabad circle decided to spotlight a rather detailed photo exhibition, along with an extensive 'cultural festival' that emphasized the exceptional diversity in Indian classical music and the several transcendent artists that have left an indelible mark on the art form. The aim of doing so, according to the ASI Aurangabad Circle, was to adopt a unique way to not just educate the youth to carry forward the legacy and do their bit to safeguard the rich culture of our country, but also inform the masses about the hard work and efforts that architects, engineers, geographers, civil engineers, artists and archaeologists put in towards constructing and conserving various heritage sites.
The Cultural Festival - titled 'Trikaal' (which literally translates to past, present and future) - was organized in collaboration with artistic Director Birwa Qureshi, and was accentuated by stellar performances from music virtuosos and maestros like Ustad Fazal Qureshi on the tabla, vocalist Anand Bhate, Rakesh Chaurasia on the flute, Dilshad Khan on the sarangi, Sridhar Parthasarthy on the mridangam, Sangeet Haldipur on the keyboard, Gino Banks on drums and Sheldon D'Silva on the bass guitar. The musical spectacle was hosted by special guest artist Sachin Khedekar, was held in front of the famous rock-cut Kailas Temple, leveraging the awe-inspiring facade to act as a truly enchanting backdrop for the musical wizardry that captivated the audience till the very end.
As Aditya Gupte, from Field Production, shares, "A live concert has three important aspects... stage, lights and perhaps the most important - sound. We wanted to have Lakir Mehta as the Monitor Engineer for this event, as we trust him to be an excellent sound engineer. His understanding of the various nuances of his craft is unparalleled, and this is what made our work easier in terms of the kind of approach we needed to take with the sound reinforcement. For this festival, reputed Pune based rental services company Sound Effects by Uday Shah, came on-board along with Lakir; and we found that the Sound Effects team's level of commitment to the event was as high as we expected it to be. Their inventory is up to date with all the latest equipment; and so, as organizers, we knew that the technical requirements in terms of sound would be well taken care. They did do a fabulous job indeed. The event was flawless - the music experience was impeccable, and everyone was really pleased!"
Uday reveals that his team designed and commissioned the entire technical setup with the utmost amount of care and caution, keeping in mind the 'world heritage' stature of the venue, and the fact that the site has its own set of limitations and sensitivity when it came to possibilities of putting together a formidable sound architecture.
"While the famous rock-cut Kailas Temple added to the beauty of the stage and the classical fusion genre of the music - we had to ensure that the loudspeaker system was designed and placed in a manner that would not compromise the visual appeal of the stage yet enhance the aural experience for the audience. This coincidentally, was also the brief provided by the show producer; and so, we had to spend a fair bit of time analyzing the site to account for various architectural and spatial factors that could impact overall sound experience, and go about putting together a system that would reproduce even the most nuanced musical notes that could be expected from the line-up of world class musicians who graced the event stage. We began setting up at the site in the wee hours of the morning, as we knew we had to be extra careful and extra precise with every single move. However, as the day progressed and the temperature soared to almost 43`C, it did make the process a little more challenging for the team," explains Uday.
For the event, the Sound Effects team deployed a comprehensive JBL loudspeaker system, with the FOH comprising six units of the JBL VTX V25-II line array modules with 4 units JBL VTX G-28 on either side of the stage, complemented by four units of the versatile JBL VRX932LA line array modules that acted as the center fill reinforcement. Rounding off the audio system were a total of ten units of the JBL VRX915M wedges that were placed strategically on stage to act as the stage-monitoring system. The entire loudspeaker system was powered through multiple units of Crown IT12000HD power amplifiers. Alongside, the Sound Effects team also provided the Backline system for the event, which comprised world-class gear like a Markbass Little Mark 800 Tube with 104HR, a Pearl Masters 7 Piece Drum Kit, and a keyboard each of the Yamaha Montage 6 and Montage 8; in addition to two sets of the 6000 series wireless microphone system from Sennheiser along with mix of several corded and cordless microphones from Shure and Sennheiser respectively. And to enable unparalleled control over the sound output, the Sound Effects team offered the leading-edge SD10 full-format mixing console from DiGiCo at FOH that was operated by sound engineer Jayakrishnan Nalinkumar(JK), while a unit of the ever-reliable SC-48 mixing AVID console was provided by Lakir to fulfil the artist monitor mix exigencies.
Recounting his personal experience of the event, Lakir shares, "Since it was a large-scale classical fusion concert with some of the most noted music maestros of India, and that too at a venue that's regarded as a world heritage site - it was indeed an overwhelming experience. But thanks to the Sound Effects team, everything went smoothly. Their backline was amazing, and the artists too were all praise about the quality and performance of the equipment. JK -who was at FOH did an amazing job to sort inputs and output patch-list, and so it was extremely easy for me to work my part. Overall, my experience was great and looking forward to doing more work with the team."
It's safe to note that the several stunning performances at Trikaal played a vital role in the qualitative and quantitative success of the overall endeavor. As Uday sums up, "At the end of it all, it is so heartening to receive a flurry of compliments from the artists, organizers and audience members for a job well-done. I'm extremely proud of the efforts that every single member of Sound Effects has put into bringing this magnificent event together, and I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to the immensely talented Lakir Mehta for his unwavering support throughout the entire project. This is an event that will hold a special place in my memories for years to come!"