Last evening Flinders Quartet performed, together with jazz singer Vince Jones, at the Utzon Room, Sydney Opera House. Obviously, where an acoustic group such as a string quartet plays with an amplified voice, good handling of the sound is most important. Or so you would think.
No problem. The Opera House is Australia’s premier performance venue. Except that when Flinders arrived on Sunday afternoon for a warm up and sound check there was no equipment to be seen. The Opera House staff response was: “Oh, you didn’t order any”. Really? The booking confirmation sheet soon clarified that. So, equipment was hurriedly organised and someone to “do” the sound was found.
Unfortunately that left virtually no time for a sound check. The result was that the audio was seriously unbalanced, the mike placement inconvenient for the performer and the sound guy was so far off to the side he had no idea what most of the audience was hearing (or not hearing). The whole thing detracted from an otherwise lovely performance of works (by Elvis Costello –The Juliette Letters, and Calvin Bowman’s new creation, Curly Pyjama Letters) with words that demanded they be heard.
There will not be the same problem tonight at Melbourne’s Elisabeth Murdoch Hall in the Melbourne Recital Centre. They do their sound properly there.
So, is this just an isolated incident? Well, no. The sound arrangements were pretty ordinary for I Musici a couple of weeks ago on the Bennelong Lawn. Two concerts on the same day both revealed poor audio performance. This means no-one at the morning performance was listening with a view to achieving an optimum output in the evening. Those who attend the Utzon Room Series (I Musici) and concerts put on in the Utzon Room by lesser promoters than the Opera House (Flinders Quartet et al.) deserve better.
How about it, Yarmilla Alfonzetti? As Classical Music Producer at the House it warrants serious attention.