Friday, October 25, 2013

Stephanie Blythe at Meyer Sound

Last Sunday evening Meyer Sound in Berkeley hosted a launch party for As Long as There are Songs, mezzo Stephanie Blythe's new CD of American popular songs. It was recorded in Meyer Sound's Pearson Theatre, a small 57-seat venue equipped with an electronic sound system called Constellation. It's a combination of microphones, speakers & digital processing which creates a virtual, customizable acoustic for live performances. Cal Performances uses Constellation for shows in Zellerbach.

Helen and John Meyer gave a brief introduction & demonstrated how the Pearson Theatre's dead acoustic can be changed to simulate various spaces, such as a lecture hall, a concert hall or the echoey interior of a mosque. We heard a track from the CD, then Ms. Blythe came out with pianist Craig Terry, her accompanist on the CD, & sang 3 more songs for us, with the room set to sound like a large, resonant space. The fullness of her voice & the clarity of her diction gave her renditions real immediacy. "The Man that Got Away" made me feel like I should be crying into a glass of scotch. Mr. Terry's robust accompaniment had a lot of personality.

Photo by Jesse Goff
Ms. Blythe explained that her performances are influenced by what a space gives back to her & that it was a great experience to record in an acoustic adjusted to approximate what she hears in her head. The CD was recorded with just 2 small microphones placed in front of her. The people at Meyer Sound are a friendly crew & obviously love what they do. When I asked questions about the theater's sound system, they gave me a private demo & let me play with the iPad app that controls the room's settings. They compared the use of the Constellation sound system to the moveable sound panels in Davies Hall & to the way street performer Robert Close uses the acoustics of Maiden Lane to project his voice around Union Square.

 photo IMG_20131020_181306_zpsf5387d5d.jpgRefreshments were served in an intimate party room with low lighting. It had a canopy of tree branches hanging just above eye level & an ambient sound of chirping birds. The bustling event photographer asked me to pose with several people I had only just met.

1 comment:

john said...

I was in Blythe party and heard that 3 songs. I enjoyed that party with her nice songs.