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Conference & Stage Expo
For the Record
Sound Programming to
Boom at Conference

Rick Thomas
Sound Commission

The 2008 USITT Conference & Stage Expo in Houston, Texas promises to be the most exciting and important celebration of live sound in the performing arts in the history of the Institute. The centerpiece of this celebration will focus on two historic and related events − the awarding of the USITT Distinguished Achievement in Sound Award to John and Helen Meyer, and the release of the first sound monograph in USITT's series featuring prominent American t designers, The Designs of Abe Jacob.

The opportunity to bring three of the most influential figures in the live sound and entertainment industry to USITT will generate an extraordinary "cascade effect" of other influential figures who plan to attend and share in this celebration.

John and Helen Meyer co-founded Meyer Sound Laboratories in 1979 to make high-quality, professional loudspeakers. From the beginning, Meyer Sound has been deeply involved in theatrical sound. The UPA-1, one of the company's earliest products, was originally designed for legendary sound designer Abe Jacob, and arguably revolutionized theatrical audio. Meyer Sound has been one of the first and most consistent supporters of Stage Expo and the Sound Commission.

Sound designer Abe Jacob, considered by many to be the "godfather" of contemporary sound design, got his start in San Francisco mixing sound for such 1960s rock stars as Jimi Hendrix, the Mamas and the Papas, and Peter, Paul, & Mary, and designed the sound system for the Monterey Pop Festival. A legendary sound designer for theatre and opera, a tireless champion of union representation for his fellow artisans, and winner of the 1999 USITT Distinguished Achievement in Sound Award and the 2000 EDDY Lifetime Achievement Award, Mr. Jacob designed the sound for such seminal Broadway shows as Jesus Christ Superstar, A Chorus Line, Pippin, Chicago, Cats, and Evita, virtually creating the position of sound designer in the process.

To celebrate the contributions of Meyer Sound and Mr. Jacob to the live sound industry, the Sound Commission has put together an extraordinary "Day of Celebration" that begins on Friday, March 21 with a book signing event with Mr. Jacob and author Rick Thomas.

Shortly after this event, the Sound Commission will host "An Evening With John and Helen Meyer," to look back on their stunning career, and raise glasses in a champagne toast to these icons of modern sound system design. The next morning (Saturday) will feature a group of prominent professionals in the sound industry − all of whom have ties to Mr. Jacob and Meyer Sound or both − who will take a look back on the evolution of live sound equipment and the design, service, and manufacturing industries that support the shows.

This will be followed by a session with perhaps the most adventurous sound designer on Broadway, who also happens to be the man behind the fabulous sound of Cirque du Soleil, Jonathan Deans. Mr. Deans will be followed by another legendary sound designer from the Broadway stage, Steve Kennedy, who is responsible for the sound designs for five of the last 10 shows on Broadway that won the Tony Award for best musical.

Just before Happy Hour some of these industry luminaries will be brought together for a Tribute to Abe Jacob, promising some of the stories that couldn't be printed print in the book! An hour of socialization follows at the All-Conference Happy Hour, and the whole conference culminates in the Awards Banquet where the Institute will recognize an unprecedented group of sonic artists including this year's Rising Star recipient, Elisheba Ittoop; Robert E. Cohen Award for Sound Achievement recipient, Jason Knox; Harold Burris-Meyer Distinguished Achievement in Sound Award and Architecture Award recipients, John and Helen Meyer; and this year's recipient of the USITT Award, Abe Jacob.

Because of the busy schedules of so many of the prominent professionals related to this celebration, expect some major surprise guests to appear this year, some of whom will be making the trip to USITT for the very first time.

Do not be one of those who would have come "if they only knew!"

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Abe Jacob

Helen and John Meyer