Multi award-winning Scarisbrick Hall School has just opened Oak Theatre & Studios, where an Audient ASP8024-HE has been installed, along with 33 iD4 audio interfaces in a dedicated music programming Mac lab. The opening of the newly built theatre and arts buildings heralds the beginning of a new era for the school. It not only puts music technology firmly on the curriculum, but also provides a unique high-end studio for hire with a breathtaking gothic-style backdrop.
“the studio [is] simple for learning but still accessible for external hire”
Oak Theatre & Studios was designed from the ground up with recording flexibility in mind. The fact that it is available for commercial use as well as teaching is something technical manager Ross Krige (pictured below) was careful to consider when specifying the Audient console. “Overall I’ve tried to keep the studio very simple for learning but still accessible for external hire,” he explains.
For the 10-13 year-olds, Ross has set up a Music Technology Club, with a view to demystifying the song recording process. Here the youngsters “start learning how songs are recorded and what ‘that person sat behind the desk’ does at theatre shows,” he explains. “The students will be recording some songs of their choosing – within reason – and I’ll be teaching the basics of mic-ing and how to use a console.”
“we aspire to be a beacon of arts across the whole region” ~ Scarisbrick Hall School Head
Older students (GCSE/A-Level) have the option of joining the more advanced club where they pick up more professional techniques around the studio as well as in the theatre. “The aim of this club is for them to be able to participate in the shows and/or recordings we may do on site.”
Headmaster, Jeff Shaw says: “We are keen for pupils to have the opportunity to be immersed in music technology from an early age. We have an innovative curriculum designed to ensure they are prepared for the world beyond the school gates. As an independent school in West Lancashire, we aspire to be a beacon of arts across the whole region.”
“It’s an amazing building”
The school certainly stands out, as both the school and studios are based at Scarisbrick Hall, a gothic revival-style country house designed in 1837 by architect Augustus Pugin, best known for designing the Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben) and the interior of the Palace Of Westminster. “It’s an amazing building,” says Ross.
Describing the new studios, he continues, “What’s quite unique about our setup is we can record larger ensembles in the 394-seat theatre from the studio using Dante. So we can have a 100-piece orchestra if we really wanted, recording into the studio. A bit of a push with our console – but it is possible!”
“we can record larger ensembles in the 394-seat theatre from the studio”
Aside from the theatre and the 12 potential live rooms within the new buildings, there is also the option of recording in the centuries-old Scarisbrick Hall itself. “There are a multitude of rooms ranging from the large banquet hall to smaller rooms with intricate carvings. We can record from any of these to the studio using Dante, so it’s very versatile.”
Head of Performing Arts, Dave Chapman adds, “We are delighted with the Audient ASP8024-HE console, it will allow our students to do professional level recording and provide an industry standard service to our wider community. The new design looks fantastic and we love the bespoke aspects on the console.”
When asked about the configuration of the ASP8024-HE, Ross says, “We opted for the bus mod, which I really like as it gives me a lot of flexibility with what and where I’m recording around our studio. I’m also a really big fan of the built-in compressor. It gives me a good base line when I’m doing a quick mix for a client to what I might want to add later on to a track when mixing, either with outboard or even just recording it straight onto the track.”
“we love the bespoke aspects on the console” ~ Head of Performing Arts
A Performance & Recording graduate of the London College of Music, Ross learnt his craft on Audient mixing desks. “I knew if we were going to go for a console it had to be an Audient as they are obvious workhorses – especially if they can cope with university students.”
The Scarisbrick Hall School pupils are also awestruck by the new studio, according to Ross. “The younger kids’ first question is always ‘Do you know what all those buttons do?’ Some of the staff ask that as well! The older ones like going into more detail: ‘Why does this song sound like this? How can I imitate this? What should I do to this vocal track to make it sound more like this artist? Why does this instrument not sit in the mix well?’ They’re always very inquisitive and want to find out more.”
He concludes, “I just think it’s fantastic that these kids are focusing on something practical and learning a new skill! I’m very jealous that I didn’t get access to this kind of equipment when I was in school.”
The Audient equipment was supplied by Academia.