Alberto Saccavini, Stage Manager at Umbria Jazz, talks about his 10 years of Conad Jazz Contest
We interviewed Alberto Saccavini, stage manager of Umbria Jazz, who in recent years has managed the stage on which the finalists of the various editions that have made the history of the Contest have performed.
We asked Alberto to tell us the secrets of his work, which is precious for preparing the stage for the participants and ensuring that everyone can perform at their best.
Let’s start with your role within the Contest. What challenges do you mainly face in your position as an internship manager? How do you manage to coordinate your work with the needs of individual artists or their bands?
The stage where the final concerts take place, the Carducci Gardens, is a location full of events and the 10 finalists of the contest distributed over three days are part of the band turnover that characterizes this stage. The main challenge is to be able to respond to everyone’s needs in the limited time available.
What equipment do you consider essential to ensure the success of a music competition? How long does it take to prepare the stage for each artist performance?
The good fortune of placing the contest on a stage that has already run into the three days of the festival preceding the start of the final and the variety of bands that have already passed on stage is certainly the main advantage for me as stage manager and above all for my fellow engineers. Each band needs a relatively short amount of time to set up their instruments and do a short “line check” instead of a real “sound check”. This approach was chosen both to respect the times of the festival and to give all the bands the same opportunities by making the same time slot available to everyone.
What was your favorite moment in the stage manager position over the last 10 years of this competition?
It’s always the same, seeing the emotion in these guys’ eyes just before stepping onto a prestigious stage like Umbria Jazz!
What were the biggest challenges or difficulties the finalists faced during the competition? How do you help them solve these difficulties?
The time available, short set-up and performance, but the same for everyone, is certainly the greatest difficulty, especially for those bands with more complex technical requirements due to the presence of electronics or acoustic instruments that had not yet passed on that stage before. . Another factor is certainly the young age of the participants which often coincides with the low habit of treading important stages such as that of Umbria Jazz. Here all of us who work on stage try to be as helpful, welcoming and relaxed as possible in order to dampen any more than understandable anxieties and fears of the competitors. We try to put the artists at ease by accompanying them in a performance that is as natural as possible so that we can really showcase their talent to the jury and the audience.
Any bands more difficult to coordinate during performances?
All those who do not trust our experience and professionalism and who are reluctant to take our advice, do not understand that we are there only to ensure that their performance is the best possible.
What are your tricks to effectively coordinate the insiders and the musicians when setting up the stage?
My role on stage is mainly to enforce the times of the Contest, always limited but equally distributed among all the participants, enforce the stage and therefore the equipment present, but also and above all to create a friendly, calm and relaxed in which the artists can only think about the music and not about technical or organizational issues.