The Lincoln Center Festival at Lincoln Center Plaza is a three-week event that presents more than 150 performances by more than 30 participating artists and performance groups in the Center’s nine venues. Since it began in 1996, the varied program has included plays, musical performances, orchestral works as well as Kabuki, the traditional form of Japanese theater.
For Lincoln Center Festival 2004, Elvis Costello played a week-long series of three shows at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall, home of the New York Philharmonic. The 2,700-seat venue’s unique architecture includes tri-level balcony seating around the interior perimeter, dubbed "the tiers" by Lincoln Center staff. The series highlighted the vast career and musical styles of Costello. The first performance was Elvis Costello and the Dutch ensemble Metropole Orkest, the world’s only full time jazz orchestra with strings. Second, it was Elvis Costello and The Imposters with drummer Pete Thomas, keyboardist Steve Nieve, and bassist Davey Farragher. And finally, the last performance was Elvis Costello and the Brooklyn Philharmonic featuring the North American premiere of Il Sogno, Costello’s first orchestral suite, as well as Costello performing a program of orchestral-accompanied songs.
The multiple musical themes on each evening of Costello’s series called for creative sound control. "Luckily, the core sound designers, production managers, and techs have not changed much since the beginning, which is unusual for a festival environment," said David Meschter, sound coordinator for the Lincoln Center Festival.
Planning for the massive event begins in mid-February, when Meschter and other Festival coordinators assemble and allocate resources. One such audio resource is Simon Nathan, principal of Audio Production Services (APS) in North Westchester, NY. APS partners with New York-based Promix to provide all audio equipment for every Lincoln Center venue during the Festival.
Meschter and Nathan chose EAW KF730 small line array modules (SLAM). Eight EAW KF730s per side were hung above the lighting truss in Avery Fisher Hall for all three performances. "We needed a sound system that was small, light, sounded good and could throw a reasonable distance," said Nathan. "The KF730s fit the bill."
"We also wanted a system that can be important in all three of the shows and is versatile enough to be matched with additional cabinets. The KF730s worked out very well for Elvis Costello," explains Meschter. "With the Metropole, the program was mostly amplified and reinforced, with electronics worked into the orchestra. For that, we used the KF730s and four EAW SB1000 subwoofers. With the Imposters, we added eight EAW KF750s and six EAW SB1000s to the KF730s for added punch. And with the Philharmonic, only the second half of the show is amplified voice. For that, we stripped the system down and just used the KF730s for Elvis’s vocals."
The KF730s also fit the criteria of a clean sightline, an especially passionate topic for traditional philharmonic patrons and players. According to Nathan, he hasn’t received any complaints on sightlines to date.
"Once we had decided on a line array, we began looking for the smallest line array system possible since classical players do not want to see speakers," added Meschter. "The KF730s have served this space better than any system we’ve brought in here before. There is even coverage from the tiers down to the floor."