Highland Park, IL–When David Foster’s “The Hitman” tour passed through the Ravinia Festival outside of Chicago, OSA International had double the responsibility as the gear provider for the Martin Audio MLA system installed for Ravinia’s summer season and as the tour’s production company, providing the touring audio and LED elements
Founded in 1904, Ravinia is the oldest outdoor music festival in North America with a roster of high caliber artists such as Foster gracing its amphitheater every summer.
Asked about the MLA system at Ravinia used for the show, OSA’s Peter Wiejaczka who has worked with Ravinia since MLA was first installed in the Pavilion several years ago responds, “We provide eight MLA with two MLD a side, three MLX subs a side on stage, and six W8LM for front fill.
“The main challenge for Ravinia is meeting the SPL limits at the venue and in the village beyond the property line. There’s a residential zone about 100 ft. from the stage, so eliminating excessive noise is paramount and MLA affords us the control to do that very effectively.
“MLA also provides a level of consistency from show to show so the Ravinia sound crew can ensure a consistent product for the touring acts that come throughout the summer season. They wanted a system that was easy to work with and could consistently reproduce accurate mixes.”
Rob Laseau, one of the Ravinia house audio team from Chicago IATSE Local 2 adds, “After hundreds of shows, I’m still amazed at the detail I can hear through the Martin Audio MLA system.”
OSA’s Peter Wiejaczka concludes, “the system provides very even front to back coverage in the space despite building restrictions that forced us to fly the arrays very far apart, so the mix is the same wherever you’re seated. I continually hear from members of the Ravinia staff and guest engineers how they can hear detail with MLA they’ve never heard with other systems.” OSA’s Peter Brennan who mixed monitors for the tours, adds “the system is very quiet on stage because of its rear rejection capability.”
According to Brennan, the monitor system for the tour includes, “12 Martin Audio XE300’s with an SX218 as drum sub. The XE300’s are great! They deliver amazing performance from a low physical profile. They can get really loud and remain stable with no hot spots or feedback at certain points, which is very helpful because David has many guest artists from different genres, of whom we have to adjust to pretty quickly.
“For this tour, three artists performed the songs David is most known for with Pia Toscano singing the Celine Dion songs he wrote and produced, Shelea Frazier performing the Barbra Streisand and Whitney Houston hits, and Fernando Varela singing David’s best operatic material including Andrea Bocelli songs. The music is pretty dynamic, it’s like a story teller’s tour with David recapping his life and career through the music.”
“When running sound for a 16-time Grammy award winning producer, there are no exceptions that allow for poor or average sound. With these wedges and with MLA, we can work in the studio or on the road with the same level of sonic quality.”