CHICAGO – To the college students and young urbanites who flock to it every weekend, Thalia Hall is one of the buzziest spots in Chicago, a place to kick back, down a local beer with friends, dine on some tasty food and enjoy national acts like Panda Bear and Goat as they perform on a stage illuminated by fixtures from CHAUVET Professional.
That’s also pretty much how things stood when this four story Romanesque structure opened in 1893 to serve the city’s burgeoning Czech population as a concert hall and social hub --except musical styles were different back then and there were no LED fixtures! However, in between then and now was a dark period when Thalia Hall, which was modeled after the Old Opera House in Prague, stood idle for decades before being given new life by a couple of visionary Chicago entrepreneurs.
The “new” Thalia Hall is remarkably like its predecessor, serving as a mixed use building where people can eat, drink and socialize. Just as it had in the past, Thalia Hall is now buzzing with crowded restaurants and a tavern. However, also just as in the past, it’s the concert hall that’s at the heart of this community hub.
Music was crucial to Thalia Hall early in the last century, just as it is today, when an impressive lineup of national acts is bringing a new sense of excitement to the building’s resurgent neighborhood. “Live performances are the centerpiece of Thalia Hall, and lighting is critical to those performances,” said Justin Wardell, senior account executive at Intelligent Lighting Creations (Arlington Heights, IL), which provided the stage lighting set for the concert venue.
Wardell was contacted by LD Tim Schoen to submit ideas on putting together a lighting rig for Thalia Hall. “We’ve worked with Tim before and were very excited about this project because of the importance of the building to the community, the historic nature of Thalia Hall, and its importance to the emerging Pilsen community on Chicago’s lower west side,” he said.
This reawakening involves a diverse range of musical genres from the alternative sounds of artists like Panda Bear, to country to folk to pop and more. Mindful of this diversity, Wardell and Schoen wanted a lighting rig that had the flexibility to meet the needs of a range of acts of different sizes, often with different visiting LDs.
“We wanted flexible LED fixtures and moving heads that could do different things so we could create a good show regardless of who was on stage,” said Wardell. “We selected 8 Q-Wash 419Z-LED moving washes and 20 COLORado 1-Tri Tour LED pars. The feature set in these products gives us the flexibility we were seeking.
Wardell was considering sourcing another moving yoke before deciding on the Q-Wash 419Z-LED, a decision he’s glade he made. “The Q-Wash has been a big hit; everyone is impressed with its brightness and speed,” he said. “It has a host of features like individually controlled LED zones and color macros that give us the sought-after versatility. We use the Q-Wash to wash the stage in a range of colors and sometimes to touch the audience with light.
For his part, lighting director Schoen praised the versatile 7°-25° zoom range of the Q-Wash for the added flexibility it brings to the front light systems. He was also impressed with the bold saturated colors and variable whites produced by the RGBW fixture and the way it enhances skin tones.
Schoen positioned four of the Q-Wash fixtures on FOH truss and four on upstage truss in his lighting design. The 20 COLORado 1-Tri Tours were positioned on trussing over the stage, where they provided a great deal of color and are often used to highlight individual artists.
The fact that the Chauvet fixtures are LED was important to everyone involved in the Thalia Hall renovation, because of their “green benefits,” according to Wardell. The LED fixtures were also valued, “because power draw is a concern in a historic building.” In addition to the CHAUVET Professional fixtures, the stage set includes some spot and ellipsoidal fixtures as well as a hazer, all controlled by a Avolite Expert Pro controller.
“Everyone has been pleased with the Chauvet fixtures,” said Wardell. “They’re creating a very richly colored immersive look on the stage.” In the process they’ve helped bring the music back to life in one of the city’s most historic and evocative concert venues.
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About CHAUVET Professional
CHAUVET Professional offers innovative professional lighting fixtures for the production and touring market as well as permanent installation in theaters, hospitality venues, cruise ships, clubs, television and architainment applications. For more information, please visit www.chauvetprofessional.com
Chauvet, headquartered in the USA, is a leading global manufacturer of professional luminaires, truss and related equipment, fulfilling the needs of various industry sectors. Chauvet has four main brands: CHAUVET® DJ, CHAUVET® Professional, ILUMINARC® and TRUSST®. They share Chauvet’s unified strategy to pursue every market segment where it has a competitive advantage in terms of value, innovation and performance, with an emphasis on LED technology. For more information, please visit www.chauvetlighting.com