Uppsala's visually striking Konsert and Kongress opens.
Home to Sweden's oldest University founded in 1340, this charming city just sixty-five kms north of Stockholm now boasts the nation's newest Concert House. Opened in September 2007, the Uppsala Konsert and Kongress (UKK) has been twenty-five years in the making, but enthusiastic comments from across the musical world indicate it has been well worth the wait.
Visually striking from the outside, UKK's architect Henning Larsen (he of Copenhagen Opera house fame) has created an equally impressive multi-storey venue inside, packing a variety of concert auditoria into a limited site in the city's old quarter. The main concert hall sits on the top floor allowing for maximum auditorium size, while beneath lies the artists' dressing rooms, public areas, and two further dedicated auditoria. As the name suggests, UKK will not just host concerts but conference events as well, providing space and extensive technical resources; even the ground floor café area doubles as an easily re-configurable concert room licensed for a standing audience of fifteen hundred.
One of Sweden's most well known sound engineers, Hans 'Surte' Norin (photo), was appointed Technical Director, having been co-opted as a consultant on the project back in 2005. "One critical element of the UKK determined how it would function; there would be no resident orchestra here", he said. "So from the very beginning the intention was to build a concert hall that could accommodate all types of music. Symphonic concerts of course, but also choral and solo singers, instrumentalists, string quartets, piano recitals, jazz, folk, even rock bands."
Norin called upon the services of Arva Trading d&b's Swedish distributor, to provide the UKK's audio requirements, "Surte was already a confirmed d&b user," said Arva's MD Olof Arvidsson. "He knew exactly what he wanted to achieve, which is always a blessing with such installations. Between us we agreed that a d&b
Q-Series system was ideal for the main hall, d&b's Application Support in Germany confirmed our design configuration and in it went. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the main PA is its portability; Surte needed a system that was quick to rig or remove. For one thing the ceiling design of the main concert hall did not allow for the PA to be raised up and concealed in the roof space for classical performances." Other rooms in the UKK include a studio style Hall B, which can host audiences up to three hundred and fifty, and smaller Hall C used for chamber recitals. "Everything audio is portable," Norin said. "Even the Main Hall system is fully portable, including the D12 amplifier racks up in the roof space, which are in wheeled flight cases. I have M4 monitors, Q7s for Hall B, Q1s for the Main Hall, but I've chosen J-SUBS to go with them because of the variety of performance styles anticipated".
Norin has applied a similar logic to his mixing system; two Digidesign Profiles and a D-Show for full interoperability. "Desks and PA are perfectly matched in terms of performance. Neither colour the sound at all and I hardy ever need to apply any system EQ. With this equipment I can do any show in any of the rooms, and out in the Plaza when weather permits, and it never takes more than an hour to rig. Simple."