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Ministry of Sound The Annual Classical tour mixes with Digico SD7

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 mixing with Digico SD7.

The tour is based on the south London club Ministry of Sound’s dance music compilation, The Annual, which has been going since 1995.

The Digico console is provided by RG Jones, whilst the complex live mix is delivered by sound designer, Phil Wright.

“In the last couple of years, we’ve seen all kinds of classical dance music shows take to the stage, but the design brief from MoS was to make this a genuinely live performance, meaning no playback!” Phil Wright commented.

With the brief in place, a collaboration between Coalition Agency and Raymond Gubby Ltd, which runs the 55-piece London Concert Orchestra, began with British composer Tom Player tasked with producing arrangements for the orchestra.

Wright spoke of the Digico SD7: “It was always going to be me and a DiGiCo console. I was thinking about an SD10, but it became obvious that I needed a bigger desk and therefore I decided on an SD7. It’s been the perfect choice and even on a console with the huge capacity of the SD7, I had only four busses and two channels not in use.”

The Annual Classical is no ordinary show, as Wright explained: “On stage, we have 55 people plus backing vocalists, guest singers and extensive effects. I’m running 12 FX racks in my SD7 and another six in Waves externally with my own DiGiGrid rig. It turned out to be the ideal way to do it.”

He has two SD-Racks on stage, taking inputs and sending outputs to a pair of Martin Audio DD6s, whilst 17 performers use personal mixers. The tour is also using Martin Audio’s MLA system.

“With the compatibility, I could drive a MADI stream out of the SD7 to the personal monitoring setups. I was sending 40 channels to the personal mixers, and using 16 subgroups, which was driving an extremely high AUX count for this show.”

The SD7 also helped to ensure a smooth production filtered through to other departments: “It’s been a very close collaboration between Tom [Player] and I, and it quickly became obvious that we’d needed a click track – both for people to listen to and as a visual reference,” noted Wright. “Some of the pieces were 20 minutes long and featured a mix of five or six tracks, so it’s easy to get lost without it.

“I worked with Tom to construct a visual click system for the show, which works off my dual redundant system. The musicians received an audible click and visual reference, which I could output to the lighting and sound console. While some cues are manual, the SD7 can do some of this itself based on the timeline, which was particularly useful to our lighting department.”

The SD7 provided additional benefits, explained Wright: “Due to running the show from a click track system with SMPTE, I’ve been able to snapshot every music number and subdivide some of them so I can put FX on the instruments. I utilised the screen in the SD7 with a copy of the visual click system so I could easily follow the progress.”

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