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A new immersive experience has brought back the spirit of live performance in a socially-distanced environment.

With audio amplifier solutions from LEA Professional, residents in South Bend, Indiana, can once again enjoy the sounds of their local city orchestra in a more intimate and experimental setting.

The new listening installation ‘Octet’ came about as the South Bend Symphony Orchestra needed to re-think its performances after the pandemic forced a number of cancellations.

“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,” said 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.”

LEA Professional Octet expo 2

The result was Octet, an immersive installation that is sensitive to COVID-19 restrictions with no member of the orchestra in the room. Instead of performing live, the South Bend Symphony Orchestra pre-recorded all instruments individually and the recordings were then mixed and the music delivered through hi-quality speakers in a gallery, amplified by LEA Professional IoT enabled solutions. While an individual standing in the center of the installation will hear the instruments in a perfectly balanced surround-sound, there’s also the option to move closer to any individual speaker and virtually isolate the individual part played by any of the musicians.

For McGuire, the intimate and exposing nature of Octet truly shines a spotlight on each player and shows how their part contributes to the overall sound.

“The installation has not only opened everyone’s eyes to alternative performance set ups, but it has also brought the sound of the orchestra to a brand-new audience who otherwise might never have discovered the Symphony,” commented McGuire. “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.”

LEA Professional Octet expo 1

The project, which was executed and installed in collaboration with Eric Friedlander, Owner at Tower 21, is a unique collaboration between local players. The South Bend Symphony Orchestra and Riverlights Music Festival united together to produce Octet with production and installation assistance from South Bend Civic Theater and the South Bend Museum of Art.

“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,” said Brian Pickowitz, VP of Marketing at LEA Professional. “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 South Bend Museum of Art until the end of 2020 and will tour galleries and educational facilities around the region through 2021.

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