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42 l September 2014


Classical reggae at Sundance festival

On the occasion of the 15th edition of the Reggae Sundance festival (8-10 August), a unique combination of reggae artists and a philharmonic orchestra took the stage, reports Marc Maes

THE IDEA to combine reggae and classical music has been nourished by the organisers of the Dutch reggae festival for many years. “From Day One, we wanted to strive for the highest quality in all aspects of the project”, explains Peter Senders, organiser of the festival. With the London Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra in attendance, that classical aspect was well covered. “The orchestra enjoys worldwide name and fame. Our stage lay out offers room for 24 musicians, including grand piano, harp, brass and violins.” The search for a backing band reading sheet music resulted in Desi Jones’s Jamaican ‘Skool Band’. “Reggae saxophone legend Dean Fraser joined the line-up and played a crucial role in the communication between the classical orchestra and the backing band,” adds Senders. “And Jamaican musician/ composer Peter Ashbourne agreed to take on the conducting.”

Vocalists Luciano, John Holt and UB40’s Ali Campbell and Astro Wilson completed the never-seen before line-up on the festival’s main stage, on 9 August. René Kuipers of KO Sound has been the festival’s audio and lighting provider since the firs festival in 1995. “KO Sound entered the frame for the classical-reggae combination some six months ago,” explains Kuipers. “We met the orchestra’s management in London to see what the requirements were. The Royal Philharmonic have quite some experience in such projects: they’re very structured and rehearsed the August performance.”

With a backing band sharing the stage of the orchestra, Kuipers used a

Another advantage for a reggae festival is the fact that even the VTX25 line array can produce low frequencies almost like a subwoofer,” adds Kuipers. On stage, KO Sound installed 20 custom made F15 monitors, controlled by a Yamaha PM5D console. For the festival’s second stage, René Kuipers supplied a Midas XL3 as FOH console and a DiGiCo SD9 as monitor desk. A Stage Accompany array and KO Sound’s F15 monitor speakers completed the set-up.

UB40’s Ali (right) and Astro

collection of DPA 4099 microphones for close miking of the instruments. “The combined signal of the orchestra is routed to a DiGiCo SD8 console for a pre-mix, and then channelled to the main desk, a Midas Heritage 3000,” continues Kuipers. “We also provided an extra feed back to the stage for the Sennheiser EW-300 in-ears of the vocalists and four extra F10 monitors for the electric reggae band.”

The main stage’s FOH system consisted of 24 JBL VTX25 array cabinets plus 24 JBL S28 sub speakers, powerd by eight Crown 4x3500 HD amp racks. “We have been using the JBL VTX 25 in the past – their wide coverage can be challenging in, for instance, a tent, but is a bonus at an open air festival like this.

On 10 August, the second festival day, a rain storm damaged part of the second stage’s tent infrastructure, urging a partial change of the programme. The 15th Reggae Sundance festival featured DJs and artists such as Shaggy, Dillinger and attracted over 8,000 people. 

KO Sound’s René Kuipers adjusts microphones

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