The Montreal Jazz Festival (Festival International de Jazz de Montréal) takes over a large portion of the downtown core of this Canadian city every summer, with numerous stages outdoors in a variety of locations as well as indoors in venues ranging from small clubs to two of the city’s premier theaters, the Wilfrid Pelletier and Maisonneuve.
This year’s 31st edition of the festival hosted live performances over 12 days and nights by more than 3,000 musicians representing 30 countries, for a total audience estimated at more than 2.5 million.
Musical styles are wide ranging, including jazz, blues, folk, reggae, electronica and everything in between.
Solotech, based in Montreal and noted for its work with top acts such as Cirque du Soleil, Celine Dion, Michael Bublé, Leonard Cohen, and André Rieu, once again served as the festival’s lead provider of staging, video, lighting, and of course, sound reinforcement systems.
“We’ve been working with the festival for well over 20 years,” notes Hugo Tardif of Solotech, who serves as audio coordinator for the event. “The involvement of the company has evolved over time, but we were always there.”
Recent years have seen physical layout changes, leading to acoustical challenges for Solotech that prompts reassessment of the sound designs and equipment. The total stage count is now 19 - nine outdoors and 10 indoors.
Weather is another factor constantly in play, with gear that is exposed to the elements for more than a month straight in June and July. “We plan ahead and figure out what inventory goes to what location,” Tardif explains. “That changes every year, and we also handle different tours occurring at the same time as the festival.”
The Meyer JM-1P clusters in place at the Maisonneuve Theatre.
Support is provided by festival sponsor Meyer Sound as well as its Canadian distributor GerrAudio. The company also represents several other top brands, with principals Bob Snelgrove and Andrew Hope taking a hands-on role in assisting Solotech. The relationship kicked off a few years when the two sampled the festival and were enthused by what they experienced.
“The Montreal Jazz Festival is a true opportunity to showcase what is possible in terms of production sound – it’s always been that way,” Snelgrove states. “We wanted to see ‘our’ stuff up there, and really felt it could make a difference.”
Meyer Sound principals John and Helen Meyer have also formed a rapport with Andre Menard, the festival co-founder. With Meyer’s long-standing relationship with the Montreux Jazz Festival as an example, Menard sought to bring the same level of audio quality to Montreal. After several years of discussion and collaboration, the relationship has come to full fruition.