Robe at the International Musical Eisteddfod

Lighting director Martyn Rourke used over 30 Robe moving lights in the main arena at the renowned 2006 International Musical Eisteddfod in Llangollen. These, and a large generic lighting rig, were supplied by Blackburn-based HSL and it was the first time moving light technology has featured at the Eisteddfod. It was the second year that Rourke has been in the lighting hot seat. He worked closely with director Hefin Owen to a brief from independent producers Opus TV.

The opening ceremony included rousing performances by Welsh bass-baritone opera star Bryn Terfel and impresario pianist Llyr Williams, and was enjoyed by an audience of 6,500 and broadcast live on Welsh TV channel S4C, with highlights shown on BBC Wales.

With this also being the 60th anniversary of the Eisteddfod —it started in 1947 — Rourke decided that the lighting production values needed upping, and this was the perfect opportunity to specify Robe moving lights. Creative changes in the approach to lighting had to be introduced very subtly to avoid shocking the long standing traditions of the Eisteddfod Committee. Rourke managed this year’s radical departure with admirable political finesse and the aid of 10 Robe ColorSpot 1200 ATs and 14 ColorWash 1200 AT fixtures.

The purpose-built main arena roof at the Llangollen site has a mother grid in the ceiling. Also for the first time this year, a sub grid was hung below this on 12 motors, enabling the lighting crew to fly the trussing in to the floor and rig safely and efficiently at ground level.

The Eisteddfod event was spread over a week and covered a very wide array of artists and performances, so the lighting needed to be dynamic and able to cover all eventualities.

The calibre of performers was incredibly high. Bryn Terfel sang in accompaniment with the Hallé – Britain’s longest established professional symphony Orchestra, conducted by Gareth Jones. The nightly performances ranged from Charlie Chaplin films with musical accompaniment by The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic with Carl Davis to Katherine Jenkins singing with the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Anthony Inglis.
For the classical numbers, Rourke washed the 28 metre wide stage (complete with famous Eisteddfod flower display) with gentle colours like pinks, purples and blues. For the poppier performances, he threw gobo projections onto the backdrop and floor creating texturing and atmosphere and bumped into bolder more saturated colours. “It was just excellent having so much variety at my fingertips” he said. He operated the show using a WholeHog II console and a Wing.

Rourke first used ColorSpot 1200 fixtures for the 2006 final of Wawffactor the Welsh edition of Pop Idol, and now specifies them on all his major projects. He also used 16 CS 1200s for the Youth Eisteddfod in Rhuthin, which was a huge success.

Apart from their brightness, the fabulous zoom on the Washes, and the many features and effects on both types of fixture, Rourke’s decision to use Robe was also based on reliability, “They have been rock solid throughout with no faults or glitches on any of them” he declares.

This year’s Eisteddfod operating conditions were tough! The weather was exceptionally hot, and when the canvas covered structure was packed with people, it also became very humid. Rourke reckons that the Robe’s dealt with the “sweltering conditions” far better than other moving – or generic - lights he’s used in the past.

“Basically they’re the best thing since sliced bread!” he concludes!

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