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Longtime Clear-Com User SFJAZZ Maintains Safe Concerts and Music Programs During COVID-19


Flexibility of comms system allows operations to continue running smoothly.

Founded in 1983, SFJAZZ has grown to become a recognized international leader in jazz creation, presentation, and education.  In 2013, SFJAZZ took a momentous step opening the 36,000-square-foot SFJAZZ Center in the heart of San Francisco’s cultural corridor, which has served a community center of sorts, offering a space for education, performance, and even a polling location on Election Day. In order to ensure smooth operations in the auditorium, SFJAZZ equipped the facility with a comms system based on Clear-Com®’s Eclipse® PiCo  Matrix—a system that has since grown to include FreeSpeak II® Digital Wireless—that has fulfilled various requirements for SFJAZZ, including the needs brought about by COVID-19.

“The flexibility of our Clear-Com system has allowed SFJAZZ to explore our productions in new ways to ensure staff can constantly communicate with one another throughout every aspect of a performance, even if they are not in the same room as each other, or the performer,” explains Heiden. “Which of course has been the case during the COVID-19 shutdowns.”

The primary use of the system has not changed drastically during COVID, in that all essential technical positions are still connected via Eclipse and FreeSpeak II, however, they have physically moved each technical position to ensure social distance. “We are producing live monthly solo performances where none of our technical staff can be in the auditorium with the artist, which means we rely heavily on our system for all communications,” said Heiden.

SFJAZZ has an extensive history with Clear-Com equipment. When the SFJAZZ Center originally opened, they installed a Clear-Com Encore® Analog Partyline, and the 700-seat Miner Auditorium was outfitted with an Eclipse system comprised of V-Series™ Panels and beltpacks in the primary technical positions: Backstage, FOH Audio, Monitors, Lighting, Video and two locations in the Media Production Suite. In addition, all four dressing rooms are equipped with KB-702GM wall-mounted panels that allow for paging between backstage and the artist wing. In 2016, a FreeSpeak II Digital Wireless system was added with four wireless beltpacks and two antennae in the Miner Auditorium, one Backstage and one in the Artist Wing, to cover all of the backstage spaces of the auditorium.

In addition to supporting performances, the comms system is used for their Annual Fundraising Gala. “Our Clear-Com system is integral to the success of our Annual Gala,” said Technical Director Amy Heiden.  “It typically involves over 40 artists, all of which perform on various pieces throughout the evening, and our show caller needs to communicate to all production staff on one channel while the stage manager simultaneously needs to stay in constant communication with the artist assistants on a second channel.” For that event SFJAZZ also integrates an additional six FreeSpeak II beltpacks to allow the flexibility of audio technicians to implement stage changes and to give the event managers mobility outside the immediate auditorium space.

SFJAZZ has no shortage of content to offer during the shutdown, all of which can be accessed with an online membership. Fridays at Five is a broadcast of a concert chosen from a library of over 700 archived performances that have been hosted at the Miner Auditorium dating back to 2013. You can find out more about digital memberships, on-demand concerts, live-streamed performances, education programs, and special broadcasts by visiting

The next solo performance will be on November 12 from 7:00 p.m. to  8:00 p.m. and will feature Tabla master, Zakir Hussain. You can purchase tickets, here.

SFJAZZ follows all CDC and San Francisco Department of Health restrictions and protocols. The organization is in constant communication with local authorities to get the most up-to-date information as it relates to staffing levels, people in the SFJAZZ Center, HVAC needs, and more.