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Ministry of Sound new orchestral tour takes Martin Audio MLA on the road

The tour recently debuted at London's Royal Festival Hall with a sold-out show, featuring classical renditions of chart-topping tracks

Ministry of Sound The Annual Classical, a newly-created orchestral tour that recently delivered its world premiere with a sold-out show at London’s Royal Festival Hall, is taking Martin Audio’s MLA Compact PA on the road.

The tour is based on the south London club Ministry of Sound’s dance music compilation, The Annual, which has been going since 1995. It consists of classical reimaginings of chart-topping tracks, the set list including orchestral versions of The Chemical Brothers ‘Hey Boy Hey Girl’, Dario G ‘Sunchyme’, Faithless ‘Insomnia’, Fatboy Slim ‘Right Here, Right Now’, and Moloko ‘Sing It Back’. 

Martin Audio has established a decade-long relationship with the club and was subsequently tasked with reproducing the newly imagined sound on the road with RG Jones Sound Engineering and its MLA Compact PA.

Although the concept is new, reproducing major classical music events for promoters like Raymond Gubbay is familiar territory for RG Jones Sound Engineering, who has been specialising in this genre for many years.

The system designer for the London debut show was Mark Edwards, while the production itself was a joint project between Ministry of Sound’s tours and events producer, Coalition Agency and Raymond Gubbay Ltd, Europe’s largest classical music promoter.

FOH engineer Phil Wright mixed a 50-piece orchestra, along with drums, electric bass, electric guitar, three synths, three backing vocals, and the DJ, through 12 MLA Compact elements per side as the main PA and eight MLA Minis per side as side-fills for the boxes. In addition, six Martin Audio MLA Minis were used as lip-fills, and six MLX subwoofers were arranged in two blocks of three, in cardioid formation. This provided even distribution and identical audio to each of the 2,500 or so seats in the house.

“The key thing for this event was to keep sound levels to a minimum on stage,” reported Wright. “To this end, we employed 17 Allen & Heath ME-1 personal mixers for the key players and the conductor, and an additional 18 Martin Audio DD6’s for compact low level distributed monitoring.” Using a DPA solution, he also had to mic the show much tighter than for a conventional classical show because of the need to reach 100-105dB(A) at the FOH position.

As for the MLA, Wright expressed: “It is the only system I would consider for this kind of event. The Hard Avoid feature on stage and the cardioid subs meant that we could really meet audience expectations while maintaining reasonable levels on stage.

“In addition to the accurately defined coverage, the system needed to be very flat and linear, so I achieved maximum gain before feedback and transparency since the show is  more dynamic than a purely electronic event as you’re dealing with real instruments on stage.”

The show required a click track, which he played in from his dual-redundant ShowCueSystem rig; this allowed Click and Bar numbers on video to the stage.

Wright concluded: “An additional bonus was that production manager, Bluey Design’s Mark Hardwidge, was extremely happy because the compact, lightweight nature of MLA Compact and MLA Mini meant that we could use the in-house PA bars rather than rig motors, which would have added time and cost to the production.”

The next show of the tour is set for May 8, 2019, in Birmingham at Symphony Hall.

The rest of this year’s tour is as follows:

31st May 2019 Cardiff, St Davids Hall

6th June 2019 Nottingham, Royal Concert Hall

8th June 2019 Glasgow, Royal Concert Hall

14th June 2019 Manchester, Bridgewater Hall

21st June 2019 Liverpool, Philharmonic Hall

For more information, visit Ministry of Sound’s website