Hey world! Jeremy Kittel here, writing to you from my cozy, fav Oakland, California, USA coffee joint… which will go unnamed, shrouded in utter mystery for this very moment! But – one hint – did you see Pixar’s UP a few years ago? I’m right down the street from that little ice cream shop, Fenton’s, where the old man and the kid are hanging out at the end of the movie… you dig?
As violist for Turtle Island, sometimes I get to wear more than just one hat. I mean, violist is by far my largest hat with el Turtles (literally speaking it might be a gigantic chrome sombrero), but I also get to take that off sometimes and put on a much smaller, equally comfortable hat, as sound amplification expert for our live shows (nice title, eh?)! Meaning I work with the sound engineer at each venue to make us sound as glorious as possible out in the “house,” or audience. I like to think that this hat would be a deerstalker, the precise kind of hat worn by Sherlock Holmes, because doing live sound is kind of like being a sleuth. Well, recently, Los Turtle-inos and myself performed at an amazing venue for many thousands of wonderful people in the distant land of Chicago. Seriously, it was cool. Really cool. Here, why don’t you just take a look:
What in heavens name is that, do you ask? Why, what great, shining billows of steel it has! What majestic tresses, what impressive angles – what noblest efforts of man must have resulted in its creation! Well, calm down just for a moment so I can tell you about it. Designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, this is Chicago’s own Pritzker Pavilion, in the heart of Millennium Park, which is in the heart of Grant Park, which in turn is in the heart of – you guessed it – Chicago. We performed there a few weeks ago for some five thousand fabulous humans. A good time was had by most, to be sure, and not least due to the state-of-the-art sound system, unlike any we’ve ever encountered before.
Designed by the Talaske group of Oak Park, IL, the LARAS sound system is the first of its kind implemented in the US. Essentially, the system recreates an indoor acoustical environment for listeners in the park. See that trellis of beams curving over the audience? Each of those beams has multiple speakers attached, forming a web of sound amplification stretching along the entire field. If you’re within that web, then noise from the city will be quieted, and the music will sound very much as though you are actually inside a world-class theater.
Although we often use some amplification, we in Turtle Island are essentially acoustic musicians, and giving a great performance for audiences in outdoor settings can be tough because of the lack of natural, beautiful acoustics. Performing at Millennium Park was outstanding and gave us the best of both worlds – performing outdoors for a big crowd surrounded by all the beauty of downtown Chicago, whilst both the audience and we enjoyed an immaculate, intimate sonic experience.