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One million watts for Italian earthquake relief

A huge L-Acoustics rig and eight DiGiCo consoles were fielded for Italia Loves Emilia; the 22 September charity concert in aid of the Italian earthquake reconstruction fund.

The 150,000 tickets sold out well in advance for Italia Loves Emilia, the 22 September charity concert featuring 13 of Italy’s top pop and rock artists.

The event was held to gather funds to rebuild schools damaged in the earthquake that hit the Emilia region in May, causing over €13 billion of damage and resulting in 27 deaths and 12,000 evacuations.
As well as the prestigious cast – Antonacci, Baglioni, Elisa, Ferro, Giorgia, Jovanotti, Ligabue, Litfiba, Mannoia, Negramaro, Nomadi, Zero and Zucchero (with special guest Jeff Beck) – Italy’s top live sound pros were out in force.
Sound chief Willy Gubellini and his Nuovo Service team, which included sound co-ordinator Angelo Camporesi, had the task of installing the audio material (supplied by audio contractor Agorà), organising radio playout and multi-track recording by Lorenzo Tommasini for CD/DVD release.
To get as close as possible to a non-stop show, two identical stages were installed on the set and each performer presented the following artist. Numerous duets were foreseen, so (as well as identical backlines managed by stage managers Toni Soddu and Alessio Martino) head monitor engineer Steven Martinovic had the idea of using a DiGiCo D1 for vocal mic preamplification, with a MADI coax feed to a D.O.Tec splitter, then on towards four Optocore-linked SD7 (two FOH and two for monitors). All vocals were thus available on all desks, leaving total freedom for duets, no matter which stage performers were on.

Some artists used outboard processors, so at FOH an SD8 received the MADI signals from the vocal mic splitter system, ensuring each voice had the possibility of a ‘’dynamic’ analogue or digital insert. From there, via MADI, the signals reached the two SD7. As well as its on-board FX, each FOH desk had an outboard rack with Lexicon 480, TC Electronic 6000 and Yamaha SPX 2000.

A spare SD7 and SD8 for FOH and an SD7 for monitors were kept on standby with presets uploaded.
Sound designer Daniele Tramontani had to ensure quality sonic coverage for an audience area of approximately 128,000sqm. This was accomplished with four main stage hangs, each with 18 K1 and three KARA for downfill, plus a centre cluster with eight K1 and three KARA. Ten KUDO were used for frontfill and the bottom end at the front of the 40m stage was ensured by 20 stacks of three SB28 each. Other subs were positioned in groups of four at each of the 17 delay towers. Power was courtesy of 206 LA8 amps controlled via Ethernet.
Difficulties to be overcome included signal and power transport, with sturdy analogue multicore cable runs being the final choice, as thousands of people trying to access the web would have put WiFi connections at risk.
FOH Hugo Tempesta had 12 matrices fed to the White Mobile, for balancing and the addition of ambient mics. The mixdown was fed to the radio and TV teams, who required different EQ and compression. Eleven top FM radio stations joined forces, airing the show simultaneously, and Sky transmitted coverage in pay per view mode, donating TV ‘ticket’ takings entirely to the cause.
A multi-track recording was made of the show by Lorenzo Tommasini, in order to enable post-production work on individual tracks for CD/DVD release.
The 30-strong audio team included well-known sound engineers Andrea Corsellini (Ferro and Jovanotti), Marco Monforte (Zucchero) and sound engineer co-ordinator Alberto Butturini. Butturini, who was also FOH engineer for three of the artists, added after the event: “Although work during the run-up to the show was at times complicated, all the difficulties involved in satisfying 13 artists’ requests were overcome, thanks to the willingness of performers and sound engineers alike and our team’s ability to come up with valid solutions without compromising the original project.”
Tramontani added: “This was a great emotion and very rewarding for the Agorà team and myself, as well as being perhaps one of the largest systems ever, with about a million Watts!”

Gubellini concluded: “In spite of the lack of time at our disposal for rehearsals, move-in and set-up, everything worked well, thanks to the unique co-operative spirit of artists and technicians and, as an Emilia man, I’m particularly proud to have contributed to the success of this really great event.”

Story: Mike Clark
Photo: Francesca Fadalti