Canadian natural wonder beset by pristine wireless audio from Sennheiser as part of Parks Canada and CBCMusic’s Quietest Concert Ever
Performance by Serena Ryder is broadcast to an audience of over a thousand on the ocean floor – in between tidal cycles
On August 29, a pristine natural wonder best known for its dramatic tides, sandy beaches, and lush greenery was the site for a concert by award-winning performing artist Serena Ryder. The concert, held ‘on the ocean floor’ at low tide in Fundy National Park near the southeast coast of Canada, was performed to more than 1,000 attendees using Sennheiser wireless headphones as part of Parks Canada and CBCMusic’s Quietest. Concert. Ever. The event was organized in close collaboration with Serena Ryder, Sennheiser, and the Province of New Brunswick.
Herring Cove beach is located at the nortwestern reaches of the Bay of Fundy, known for its vast tidal range, which extends 50 vertical feet between high and low tides. At its highest point, the tide obscures the beach entirely, and when it recedes a temporary oasis is revealed. It was on this ephemeral surface where Parks Canada and CBCMusic hosted the latest edition of its Quietest. Concert. Ever.
Utilizing wireless technology provided by Sennheiser, Ryder’s performance was broadcast directly to audience members’ headphones – resulting in a musically captivating listening experience amidst the unique and beautiful surroundings. The concert series itself is designed to bring live music to the most beautiful outdoor spaces in Canada in a way that respects the sanctity of these protected environments.
Working against the tidal clock
Creating a temporary performance space on the ocean floor of Herring Cove beach presented unique challenges for Parks Canada and CBCMusic. “High tide to low tide and back to high tide again is about six hours, so we only had that long to stage the entire event,” said production consultant Steve Glassman. The project required reliable wireless technology that could be set up quickly and deliver high quality, streaming audio to 1000 concert-goers without interruption. “After exploring companies with suitable technology that could handle such a project, Sennheiser was at the top of the list,” said Glassman, who had previously worked with Sennheiser on the first Quietest. Concert. Ever. in Banff National Park in 2013.
The portability of Sennheiser’s wireless headphone technology was a boon to the production team, who had to deliver all of the equipment for the concert to the beach via helicopter. “Our payload consisted of twenty loads of 800 pounds each as it was,” noted Glassman, who was thankful for the absence of large speaker stacks. After production rehearsals in the days leading up to the event, the CBCMusic team quickly set up the stage, instruments, and cables on the day of the performance. During the performance itself, audio was captured and broadcast from a truck parked at the top of Herring Cove, which sent the audio signal to a strategically placed Sennheiser transmitter located on the beach before arriving at the listeners’ headphones.
An intimate listening experience
After audience members were delivered to the secluded Herring Cove beach via shuttle bus, each collected a pair of RS series Sennheiser headphones before descending a 170-step staircase to attend the 5:00 p.m. performance in the dried out basin. Ryder delivered a compelling performance, made all the more special by the breathtaking scenery and the crisp, intimate audio streaming to each headphone.
“What a magical experience! Thanks to Sennheiser for giving the audience a crystal-clear soundscape at the Bay of Fundy,” said Ryder, who has been touring with Sennheiser wireless equipment since early 2013. At the Bay of Fundy concert, she sang through a gold-plated Sennheiser SKM 2000 handheld transmitter coupled with an MMK 965-1 capsule, while relying on an ew 572 G3 system and an additional SK 500 G3 for her guitars.
For the backline microphones, Serena’s band used Sennheiser e 906s on guitar cabinets, evolution 900 series on drums (including a Neumann KM 184 on hi-hat) – along with two Sennheiser MK 4s as overheads and an MKE 600 miking up the audience. Her wireless monitoring system consists of 10 channels of Sennheiser’s 2000 series.
“Sennheiser played an integral role in the whole concept of this concert series because the gear didn’t detract or interrupt the pristine natural wonder of this special place like other equipment surely would have,“ said Ben Aylsworth, Executive Producer, CBC. After an hour of enchanting music and breathtaking scenery, audience members climbed the stairs and returned to their shuttle buses with an indelible memory. Meanwhile, stage and gear were packed up swiftly as the Bay of Fundy would lay claim once again to Herring Cove beach.
The one-hour TV special of ‘Quietest Concert Ever: On Fundy’s Ocean Floor’ (with Serena Ryder) will broadcast on CBC on September 25th – showcasing the beauty of Fundy National Park as Serena Ryder debuts new singles from her unreleased album in an exclusive performance for CBCMusic.