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DiGiCo supports ‘the other royal wedding’

Ian McMurray 26 August 2011

With bases in Paris, Nice and Marseille, French rental company Arpege Son Lumiere is continually busy with festivals, live tours, television shows and corporate events. The company has invested heavily in DiGiCo consoles, which are in constant use.

With four SD7s, four SD8s, three SD9s and an SD Ten on its books, as well as several D1s and D5s, Arpege is committed to DiGiCo and 2011 is proving a particularly busy summer for the consoles.

One of the highest profile events to use the company’s DiGiCo consoles was the wedding of Albert II, Prince of Monaco, and Charlene Wittstock. Multiple mixers were involved in the ceremony itself and associated celebrations.

First, on 30th June, was a concert by the Eagles in the 25,000-capacity Stade Louis II. Here Arpege provided the entire audio production, except Eagles backline, including the SD9.

Over the next two days, Arpege provided an SD7 and two SD Racks for the wedding’s civil and religious ceremonies. The first took place in the Throne Room of the Prince’s Palace, the second in the palace courtyard. The company broadcast the services via loudspeakers, which complemented video screens set up for local people to watch the ceremonies, with feeds to outside broadcast vans for media coverage.
Pierre Buisson was sound engineer for the wedding ceremony’s international signal, Alexandre Capponi and Michel Ferrone for the palace courtyard PA and Philippe Barguirdjian was sound coordinator.

Located in a museum, the SD7’s position was 900m away from the ceremony. Running dedicated cabling or fibre optic between the two was logistically impossible, so Arpege used the permanent fibre optics of Monaco Telecom.

The most spectacular of the events, a massive free concert by Jean Michel Jarre, took place on the evening of 1st June. A 120m wide stage for the show was built in the harbour at Port Hercules, necessitating the numerous boats moored there first being moved. Topping out the 35m high stage towers proved impossible for the cranes that had been originally ordered for the job, so helicopters from Heli Air Monaco were drafted in, using their skill to place Jarre’s iconic ‘eyes’ logos in position.

“It was so fast, in 15 minutes they took all four tops for the towers and put them in place. It was so good that we used helicopters again to dismantle the whole set,” said Arpege co-owner Philippe Barguirdjian.

Two SD7s were used on the show – with front of house engineer Alain Courieux manning his usual position and Julien Vouillon at monitors with another SD7 – which was witnessed by over 85,000 people and concluded with a spectacular fireworks display.

With 92 input channels used by Jarre and his three fellow musicians, it was a complicated show to mix, but the SD7s handled it with ease and the show was a complete success.

For the final gala diner an SD9 was utilised for all band and DJ entertainment in the opera hall.
As well as the events surrounding the royal wedding, Arpege’s DiGiCo consoles are hard at work on many other shows. An SD7, a D5 and an SD Rack are spending the entire summer at Sporting Monte-Carlo, a casino resort which hosts a festival throughout July and August. This year it features performances by Tom Jones, Joe Cocker, Texas, Paul Anka, a Michael Jackson tribute show and has a significant Italian presence in the shape of concerts by Gianna Nannini, Claudio Baglioni, Biagio Antonacci and Renzo Arbore and the Orchestra Italiana.

Another SD7 is on tour until early 2012 with French rocker Jean-Louis Aubert, while the other two of the company’s SD7s are in use on different events, one of which was the three-day Harley Davidson Euro Festival in Port Grimaud, St Tropez. Attracting 10,000 bikers, the roar of hundreds of Harleys competed with the thunder of rock music from the likes of Led Zeppelin tribute band Letz Zep.

“Last year we provided an SD8 for one of the artists and the festival’s organiser was really happy with the sound. He said ‘Wow, it has never sounded like that!’,” said Barguirdjian. “It was the DiGiCo console that made the difference and so this year he invited us to provide the entire system and staff, including two SD7s. Of course it sounded awesome!”

Arpege also has an SD8 with a Waves SoundGrid out on a tour by singer Patrick Fiori and the company has just purchased two more SD8s for more festival work.

“One is a choir festival and we needed more channels, because it will have more then 1200 people singing, accompanied by an orchestra. So we decided to put an SD7 on monitors and an SD8-24 at Front of House,” said Barguirdjian. “An SD Ten with Waves SoundGrid is also on tour with a French rock ‘n’ roll singer Louis Bertignac.”

With the company’s SD9s also being used on many shows, despite Arpege’s huge investment in the SD series, there is still a very welcome home for DiGiCo’s earlier consoles.

“We do a classical festival every year, which we record,” concluded Barguirdjian. “It is the same engineer every year and he always requests a D1, so we are happy to keep providing it.”

Wedding pictures copyright Getty Images

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