The School of Church Music at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) is once again getting into the holiday spirit for its third annual Keyboards and Carols at Christmas' event. With thirteen Steinway Grand Pianos, one organ and a choir of over 180 adults and children, student and professional musicians performed holiday songs for the packed house at the 3,500-seat venue.
With the addition of the large choir, this year's event featured a significant change in the setup from previous Christmas performances.
The stage featured three pianos and the organ on elevated platforms, with the additional 10 pianos on the main level of the stage, a 70-person children's choir positioned on the steps in front of the instruments and a 115-member adult choir performed from the choir loft behind the pianos.
"The proven reliability of the DPA mics keeps us coming back to them each year," explains William Schaefer, assistant director of musical productions for the School of Church Music at SWBTS. It's also great that DPA has such a wonderful team, they've been a big help in putting our show together for the last two years now."
For the majority of the program, all of the pianos played simultaneously, occasionally with two pianists per instrument. One of the main concerns for an event of this magnitude is that the artists must hear each other separately and without delay, which was accomplished with the DPA d:vote 4099s and d:facto mics. It wasn't just the sound of the d:vote 4099s that drew the school back to DPA, but also its discreet size. Since the microphone was designed to be heard and not seen, the tiny capsule size enabled the staff to position each mic where they wanted it, without any visible signs. To accomplish this, the team ran the cables out of the back of the pianos, so the audience did not even know they were there. The magnetic piano mounts and goosenecks also meant that they could mount the mics on the brass and then reposition the mics to pick up the exact area of sound they wanted to highlight from the instrument.
Additionally, the wireless d:facto Vocal mics for the lead soloists were used to provide a consistent and natural sound that would complement the pianos. "We used a pair of the d:factos for vocalists at last year's event and we loved the way they responded in the room," explains Schaefer. "The off-axis rejection and their entire sound characteristic are just perfect for what we're doing. What's more, there is almost no handling noise and the overall design of the mics is also great; the black capsule with the black microphone body is a very streamlined, slick look."
The Keyboards and Carols at Christmas' event hosted Southwestern Baptist students and faculty, as well as children from Southwestern Music Academy who played two songs, Jingle Bells and Away in a Manger, which was arranged by one of the Academy's music instructors. Among the notable SWBTS performers were Dr. Leo Day Dean of the school of church music, who performed a vocal solo of "O Holy Night" and Dr. Yoon-Mo Lim, who organized all of the musical details for the night and performed an organ Solo of “Toccata on Veni Emmanuel." The event was run by Adam Covington, Matt Bennett, Cody Meuer, Cody Carroll, Mitchell Martin, Travis McNeely, Ryan Mulvaney, Brad Powers, Adam Tarleton, Jason Davis, Matt Vaden, Matt Miller and Neil Williams, who are all student employees of the school's A/V Communications department and were key players in making sure the program operated effortlessly.