Celebrating its 34th year, World of Music, Arts and Dance (WOMAD) is an annual eclectic world-music festival of “artists whom we might not get to hear anywhere else” and the largest and most prestigious event of its kind.
As with WOMADs of the past, Britannia Row Productions Ltd. once again provided sound services for the festival. This year they added new team members, SSL Live consoles, at FOH for two stages: the main Open Air Stage and at WOMAD’s new Society of Sound marquee.
Having worked as front of house and system engineer in WOMAD’s Siam Tent last year, New Zealander Johnny Keirle returned to mix FOH at the Open Air Stage. An SSL Live console was used by Keirle to mix acts travelling without a FOH engineer.
“The SSL Live provides an intuitive, logical workflow and is very easy to use in a festival situation,” he says. “Despite the time restrictions and last minute changes that can prove difficult and stressful at a festival, the console proved to be perfect for our setup.”
The collection of acts that Keirle mixed included the eight-piece traditional Cuban ensemble Septeto Santiagero, Italian folk traditionalist Anna Cinzia Cillani and her Macuran Orchestra and Ethiopian jazz master Mulatu Astatke, who performed just before founding WOMAD headliner and Senegalese icon Yousou N’Dour.
Over on the Society of Sound stage Live was coupled with the unique Bowers & Wilkins ‘Sound System’ to deliver pristine high fidelity audio to a discerning audience who enjoyed an impressively diverse collection of experimental artists including: Radiophonic Workshop, Beardyman, 9Bach, Justin Adams and Iarla Ó Lionárd.
“On analog consoles, you always have everything in front of you at all times,” he says. “Obviously, with digital consoles, this is not the case. So, it’s essential to have channels where they’re needed. The flexibility of the control surface offered by the SSL is unparalleled.”
Keirle also mentions the secondary screen on the Channel Control Tile and its Focus Fader below, which together form the right-hand ‘Focus Channel.’
“The combination of direct-access buttons, push-button rotary encoders and touch screen offer full control across all channel processing,” he continues. “I could work on channel processing while simultaneously using the primary screen for other functions.”
Many engineers begin by mainly using Live’s large, central multi-touch screen but like Keirle quickly started to see the benefits of its Channel Control Tile.
“As I familiarized myself with the console’s layout and workflow, I found I preferred to use the secondary, smaller screen with its direct access buttons and associated rotary encoders,” he adds. “The Focus Channel offers quicker access to various channel functions and has the added benefit of physical knobs, which I find preferable to the touch screen or a fader flip for fine-tuning and tweaking.”