Manchester International Festival (MIF) kicked off with a choreographed bell ringing art piece, BELLS FOR PEACE, created by Yoko Ono.
Locally-based company tube uk provided a quadrophonic sound system for this presentation featuring d&b, Sennheiser, DPA and QLab sound solutions and was commissioned by MIF19.
Yoko Ono, appearing on a giant video screen during the event, gave instructions to the thousands of people who had gathered to join in the mass bell ringing with handbells that had been issued to them on arrival. This was accompanied by a soundscape by composer and sound designer Max Ringham and three large tuned bells rigged in custom towers dotted around the event site. The powerful baritone bells of the adjacent Manchester Cathedral provided an apt backdrop for the event.
While this event was relatively straightforward in terms of sound system design, working with an artist like Yoko Ono was “demanding, exciting and inspirational,” stated tube’s head of sound Melvyn Coote.
Coote specified a d&b sound system to cover Cathedral Gardens (where the event took place), comprising a left and right system in front of the stage with four stacks of surround sound to create an immersive quad effect.
The playback system was a QLab 4, with 12 channels running out of it to a Yamaha CL5 console and two RIO 3224 stageboxes for the PA and several broadcasting feeds, as the event was live streamed by several media platforms. Coote used QLab due to its success in dealing with the details of multilayered compositions.
tube also spec’d Sennheiser SK5212 series for the presenter mics onstage, complete with brand new DPA 6066 headset mics. The company recently invested in 50 of these and is among the first in the UK to do so. They provided four Sennheiser SKM5200 handhelds for the hosts and three for mixing the tuned bells in the towers, which were fitted with condenser heads.
The video content was synched to the music track, so the timecode was sent from QLab to the video servers and that triggered the screen content.
The tube team ensured that the PA made minimal impact on site, and while there was no disguising the need for black boxes, the stacks were kept neat and streamlined.
The front left and right arrays were ground stacked and made up from 10 d&b V8s, four V12s, four V-Subs and four B2’s, all running off three D80 amps. The four surround stacks were located in each corner of the site, made up from 16 Y8s, eight Q-SUBS and four B2’s and powered by eight D12s.
The FOH operator was Gareth Davies and tube’s techs were Darren McMahon and Ashley Burrage.
In addition to BELLS FOR PEACE, tube provided sonic solutions, sound systems and crew for 18 major shows in and around Manchester through the duration of the Festival.
“We are very proud to be a part of! We love all the challenges and the chance to work on some amazing shows with highly creative people,” confirmed Coote.