Meyer Provides Sound and Shaking for New Adams/Jordan/Sellars Collaboration
The Meyer Sound File - Summer 1995

A scene from "I Was Looking at the Ceiling
and Then I Saw the Sky"

For their new story in songs, "I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky," avant-garde composer John Adams, librettist June Jordan, and director Peter Sellars needed a sound system that would do more than bring lyrics and music intelligibly to every seat in the house: they needed a system that could rattle and rumble, simulating an earthquake. Early in the show's second act, an earthquake strikes Los Angeles, rearranging not only wood and concrete but the lives of the show's seven characters. The sound system blares a raucous band score and sampled effects to create the quake.

The show, which opened in Berkeley, California, in May, has already traveled to Montreal; future performances are planned for New York, Scotland, and Germany. Pro Mix of Mt. Vernon, New York, supplied the show's all-Meyer sound system, which includes UPA-1Cs, UPA-2s, UPM-1s, UPM-2s, USW-1s, and CP-10s. On stage monitors include UPM-2s or UM-1s for the eight musicians in the Paul Dresher Ensemble, as well as a UPM-1 for conductor Grant Gershon. Meyer Sound donated a SIM system for the length of the tour.

The sound system was designed by François Bergeron of RealTimeAudio, with assistance from the show's sound engineer and SIM engineer, Mark Grey. Grey also programmed several of the samplers and synthesizers, and helped create the special effects for the earthquake scene.

"Meyer Sound is proud to be working on this project," says Helen Meyer, Vice President of Meyer Sound. "We worked with John Adams before on his opera, The Death of the Klinghoffer, and we're thrilled to be working with him again, and, of course, with June Jordan and Peter Sellars, too. They've put together a great show."