Ian Phillips, who originally hails from Portage la Prairie, was the man who made it possible for the now-famous apology of the pope about the residential school abuse to be heard across the country. He's been working in sound engineering, having made his start at the Glesby Centre around 2009, and set up the sound system for the memorable address.
"I am a live sound audio technician," notes Phillips. "The main purpose of what I do is set sound levels for audience members to be able to hear when they come to a live concert event. I took my training at the Mid-Ocean School of Media Arts in Winnipeg. I started out as a drummer before that."
He explains he now works as a freelance technician.
"As events pop up, people will hire me as they think that I'm well-suited for the job," continues Phillips. "The company that I worked for was called Sound Art. They were subcontracted to provide the live audio for the Pope's initial visit and apology, and they contacted me here through my history with them. They knew it would be a high-pressure gig at the event. I have handled a few of these types of events for them in the past. They gave me a call, I had made myself available, flew out to Edmonton, and here I am."
Phillips explains he usually sets sound equipment up for musicians, but this was different.
"The set-up was much more specific than what I typically have because of its nature," continues Phillips. "The timeline of the event was very short and everything needed to be very specific and ready. Because of the size of the site that they were expecting, we had a very large audio infrastructure that we had to put in place. So, we were setting up equipment for five or six days, I believe, ahead of the time of the event. It was a very large set-up, but technically speaking, it wasn't a very challenging one. It was just very large-scale."
He says preparations included meeting with the organization that was setting up the overall event ahead of time which took place a couple of months ago.
"We ended up doing a design of the site with them," adds Phillips. "We brought and did the design of all the audio equipment. We came up with a map of where audience members were going to be seated, where the speakers had to be, and made a design in that way. Then we had everything shipped via a semi-trailer to the site and we just installed it from there. It was five days of setup."
Phillips says the experience was very surreal to see how quickly the event was over after all of that setup.
Phillips been involved in other significant projects including the Burton Cummings Theatre in Winnipeg when it was ramped up with modern technology.
"I was the house audio technician there for about seven years," adds Phillips. "Over my time at the Burton Cummings Theatre, when I initially started, it was an independent venue of sorts, and it was purchased by and operated by True North Sports and Entertainment. I was a part of the redevelopment process with that regarding the sound. With that, I ended up designing a sound system and deploying it into the building, which was a challenge. It was a heritage building. We were attempting to not disturb too much without interrupting its heritage status, while also bringing in the 21st-century technology into the infrastructure, and having the modern standards of production."
He describes it as an extended process to be able to get the design of the theatre to a place that was comfortable for all of the different types of shows that are held there.
"Since we've reopened in the post-pandemic, everybody has been very happy with it once again," notes Phillips.
Phillips initially started out in sound design at the local Glesby Centre back in about 2009 or 2010.
"That was my first paid sound venue that I worked out of," notes Phillips.
Phillips is getting ready to head to mainland Europe for the first time in his life for his next gig.
"My main gig, if you want to call it that, that I'm doing now is I'm front-of-house technician for a band called The Bros. Landreth," adds Philips. "We're about to head out on tour in September to Europe. I'd been to the UK but not mainland Europe."