An immersive orchestral installation called “Octet” at the South Bend (Indiana) Museum of Art, implemented in 2020 due to the pandemic, brought the spirit of live performance to a socially-distanced environment, with LEA Professional amplification helping to deliver the experience.
“It was very important for us to not only give something back to our community — which was starved of live performance for the last few months — but also to invigorate our musicians,” says Halle McGuire, Director of Development Programs, South Bend Symphony Orchestra. “We knew that everyone was combating a level of Zoom fatigue and we needed to think outside of the box as to how we could safely produce performances.”
Instead of performing live, the orchestra pre-recorded all instruments individually, with the recordings mixed and the music delivered through loudspeakers — driven by LEA Professional IoT-enabled amplifiers — that were positioned in a gallery at the museum. While an individual standing in the center of the installation will hear the instruments in surround sound, there’s also the option to move closer to any individual loudspeaker and virtually isolate the individual part played by any of the musicians.
“The installation has not only opened everyone’s eyes to alternative performance setups, but it has also brought the sound of the orchestra to a brand-new audience who otherwise might never have discovered the
symphony,” McGuire notes. “While the last few months have been extremely difficult, one silver lining is the new innovative thinking that has come about as a result. ‘Octet’ is not simply a solution to the current
crisis, but a fully-immersive experience that will live on long after the pandemic is over.”
The project, which was executed and installed in collaboration with Eric Friedlander, owner of Tower 21, is a collaboration between local players. The South Bend Symphony Orchestra and Riverlights Music Festival united to produce “Octet,” with production and installation assistance from South Bend Civic Theater and the South Bend Museum of Art.
“With the positive feedback from this project, we have begun conversations with all of the players involved, including LEA Professional, as to how we can utilize this installation approach in the future,” says Friedlander.
“The system is entirely portable and scalable, from educational facilities to outdoor spaces, and we’re excited to explore the endless possibilities the solution brings us.”
“This project exemplifies the strength of the arts community in South Bend, with local organizations coming together to overcome the challenges of the pandemic and find new ways to bring performances to the city,” adds
Brian Pickowitz, VP of Marketing at LEA Professional, which is also based in South Bend. “Hopefully, the ingenuity and perseverance that made this project possible can inspire other musicians and arts organizations around the world to work together and invent new ways to keep their passion for performance and the arts alive.”
“Octet” was available to view at the museum until the end of 2020 and will tour galleries and educational facilities around the region through 2021.