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Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum hires Clair Solutions to revamp theatre

BMHFM worked with Clair Solutions to make the Woodward Theatre a state-of-the-art performance venue and production studio that is capable of broadcasting, editing, streaming, and archiving performances

The Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum hired Clair Solutions to design, install and commission the video, audio, lighting, and rigging systems for its Woodward Theatre, a 450-seat purpose-built space for acoustic music. 

BMHFM worked with Clair Solutions to make the Woodward Theatre a state-of-the-art performance venue and production studio that is capable of broadcasting, editing, streaming, and archiving performances from hall of fame inductees and bluegrass’s rising stars.

As an institution, the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum is over 25 years old, but the building it’s housed in is brand new. It overlooks the Ohio River in downtown Owensboro, Kentucky and presents visitors with interactive exhibits and bluegrass memorabilia. 

“The folks who were responsible for the Woodward Theatre project were aware of the AVL work we did at the Franklin Theatre in Franklin, Tennessee,” explained Michelle Caron, theatrical lighting designer at Clair Solutions. “That project received a lot of press and accolades. The vision for Woodward Theatre was state-of-the-art technology and comforts, but with the usability of a good old fashioned road house. They wanted touring musicians and engineers to feel right at home. Live music and touring are in our DNA. All of our audio, video, and lighting expertise is in-house, both on the design and installation sides. We don’t outsource any of it.”

The comprehensive video playback, capture, routing, and editing system starts with a Barco Digital Cinema DP2K-19B projector and integrated server – the same technology one would find in a modern, high-end cineplex. Blu-ray playback is accompanied by full 7.1 surround sound for movies and video presentations, allowing BMHFM to not only show bluegrass-related content but also to provide art house cinema for the local Owensboro community. On the event-capture side, four Sony BRCX1000 high-definition pan/tilt/zoom cameras can be mounted and connected from numerous locations throughout the room. A full Avid Pro Tools HDX system provides multitrack recording and mixing capabilities. A Ross Video Carbonite video switcher system with XPression graphics playback and Ultrimix routing, paired with Atomos recorders, give BMHFM all the power it needs to create videos. Rather than hiding all of that technology away, the Woodward Theatre has a “fishbowl” where visitors can watch the engineers working. Finally, Clair Solutions designed in splits and connectivity to give comprehensive audio and video feeds for broadcast trucks.

To complement the room’s acoustics, Clair Solutions used the i208 line array system from its sister company, Clair Brothers. Its USLP218 subwoofers round out the low end, and musicians can get deep into the music onstage with eight Clair Brothers 1AM monitors. Lab.gruppen amplifiers power the system with a combination of integrated and stand-alone Lake DSP for loudspeaker conditioning, and QSC Q-Sys DSP handles overall signal conditioning and routing logic. A DiGiCo SD9 console is the interface, and all audio signals are conveyed between equipment via a Dante system with a redundant analogue backup.

Clair Solutions also designed the lighting at the Woodward Theatre. 

“We dealt with the situation as it was,” explained Gaetan Rioux, senior AVL technician and project manager with Clair Solutions. “Early on, that meant providing advice and making decisions before they were ready with a contract. Other delays toward the end meant we couldn’t get in there to work until two months to deadline. We gathered the troops and worked through some weekends to make it happen.”

Chris Joslin, executive director of the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum added: “This fantastic venue is a music centric cultural centre, so we are all about music with a mission. Nothing highlights the deep legacy of bluegrass more than live music and it energises everything we do. The production capability we have through Clair Solutions enables us to deliver in the performance space, but also enables us to take the great performances far beyond the four walls of our theatre through live streams and television. In addition, every great performance and programme is archived, both visually and sonically, for the future. That kind of preservation work is at the very heart of our mission.”