Latvian song and dance festival sing from the heart.

© Agris Tabaks 1/3
© Aivars Liepiņš 2/3
© Reinis Oliņš 3/3

Most people will in passing be familiar with the term exaltation, but in this modern secular Europe few recognise its deep cultural meaning. Not so Latvia, where in July the hundredth anniversary of the founding of the independent Republic was celebrated with an epic event featuring a choir of 16,500 voices; exaltation indeed. 

Purpose built in 1955 the Mežaparks Great Bandstand where the event was staged is an open-air venue. Not unlike a Roman amphitheatre, except that the curved stepped crucible is where the sixteen thousand plus performers are arrayed, facing onto an audience of up to thirty thousand. With so many voices and the unique presentational environment, promoter Girts Majors of Positivus Event turned to UBS, the pre-eminent Latvian audio provider, to design an audio solution. 

“The implementation of a d&b audiotechnik system was a key component in making this event truly memorable,” said Edmunds Verners Zazerskis, Managing Director of UBS. “UBS was founded in 1998 and we have been providing sound for different choir song festivals for many years… nearly all with our d&b systems. Even so, such a large event was not without challenges. The audience area is approximately 130m x 130m; it would not be possible to get even SPL for all seats with a simple two or four hangs of line array, even if they are twenty metres high. And such intrusive towers with long arrays would in terms of listening experience virtually split choir from audience which is completely contrary to the whole ethos of how these events are meant to be experienced. The magic feel for the audience is not to be sat in front of an enormous choir and PA system and just listen, the intention is for them to become a part of that choir and even sing together. Our in depth experience providing sound for choir events and the sonic transparency of d&b systems enabled us to add that elusive ‘magic’ ingredient.”

© Ilmārs Znotiņš

As indicated, Zazerskis designed a distributed system solution. “We installed six small V-Series loudspeaker line-arrays evenly spaced across the full one hundred and thirty metre audience area width, with an additional twenty-five V7P point source speakers augmented by V-SUBS distributed throughout the choir. Signal distribution was done in quite a sophisticated way, delivering different signals from adjacent loudspeakers to any position in the audience, avoiding destructive phase cancellation. The goal was to merge as many as possible virtual choirs from small point source speakers, V7P, together with live voices of the choir, the main system, and the singing audience as well. The result was reached quite effortlessly. Typical of our experience with d&b systems - just setting the necessary delays from ArrayCalc via import to R1 and just some minor or no EQ to most loudspeakers produced the totally massive, magical sound we desired.”

The centenary celebrations began in May of 2017 and will run until January 2021, but this event in July 2018 celebrated the heart of the nation portrayed in a traditional choir and dance spectacular. Girts Majors declared the event a great success. “Everyone involved was very satisfied with the result. This was a big step forward compared to previous events”.

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