The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) has a twofold mission to educate the next generation of professionals in the arts as well as produce stunning performances. When CCM recently upgraded its performance spaces, the college turned to ETC for lighting solutions.
With multiple venues hosting a combined 1,000 events each year, CCM is the largest source of performing arts presentations in the state of Ohio. Nearly 20 years after the venues’ last major renovation, CCM staff determined that the buildings needed infrastructure and audience comfort updates.
Adam Zeek, Resident Master Electrician of CCM, says, “Because we are an educational institution, any major update requires a wider range of flexibility and options. We need the right tools for events ranging from operas to dance performances, while also prioritizing educational value for students.”
The project, in part, was driven by a desire to replace all the house lighting with new LED fixtures. This transition led to additional changes in infrastructure and data management. Initially, CCM was only planning on updating two spaces, but then decided to modernize all the venues at once.
“This was a very thorough renovation,” says Micah Rahn of Stages Consultants, who oversaw the project. “In total, we worked in four venues. Updates included new house lighting, seating, a fully motorized rigging system and an entirely new performance lighting system in Corbett Auditorium.”
In addition to updating the house lights, CCM replaced the orchestral shell lighting in its largest concert hall (Corbett Auditorium) with ETC’s GDS ArcSystem Pro Four-Cell Linear fixtures. Using the same lighting across the house and the stage created a consistent transition between the two spaces.
When selecting the new LED fixtures, the team brought in multiple fixture types to test out. The entire light faculty came in to evaluate the lighting, and even had musicians sit under the lights to see how they would react to different sources.
Rahn says, “When previewing the fixtures, we were paying close attention to color rendering, dimming curve and performance, as well as color temperature.”
To achieve the warm tone CCM was hoping to maintain in its house lights, GDS by ETC quickly outshined the other fixtures. Zeek says, “The ArcSystem fixtures by far had the best quality of light and dimming curve of the fixtures we tested. It was an easy decision.”
The team selected the 3000 K option of fixtures for a crisp, white light across the house and stage. Now, every house fixture is a GDS by ETC solution. Pro Four-Cell Pendants provide the house lighting and Pro One-Cell fixtures are used under the balcony. With the new ArcSystem fixtures in place, Corbett Auditorium now has wall-to-wall light.
To modernize venue infrastructure along with the lighting fixtures, CCM completely reconfigured all of the electrical dimming, control, and output. Rahn says, “We upgraded all of CCM’s existing CEM 96 Sensor racks to CEM3, and updated their legacy Unison process to Paradigm with new touch screens and button stations.”
Along with the ArcSystem fixtures and Paradigm control, CCM also installed Irideon FPZ architectural framing projectors for overhead aisle lighting in Patricia Corbett Theatre. Additionally, Corbett Auditorium’s backstage is now lit by GDS BluesSystem from ETC. The running lights illuminate backstage areas with a discrete blue light.
Now that the renovation is complete, Zeek says that CCM’s staff has taken notice to the improvements in lighting. He says, “With the new LEDs, one of the major benefits is that we no longer need to have a weekly maintenance call to change the lamps. This saves us time and money.”
CCM’s new house lights are now much brighter than they used to be. Zeek notes, “The brightness is great for cleaning, and we can always dim them down when we don’t need that level of light. Even those who work in production, such as the painters, are happy with how the lights look.”
One of the stages still uses incandescent lighting, and Zeek says, “Everybody who works within the performance spaces has noticed the drop in heat output when working near the LEDs in comparison to incandescent fixtures.”
With the new equipment installed, all of CCM’s venues opened again at the beginning of 2018. While the quality of products have improved the day-to-day operation of the facilities, Zeek notes that the success of the project came down to more than just state-of-the-art gear.
“For us, the level of service ETC provided was a major deciding factor,” says Zeek. “The support from ETC and Stages Consultants brought together a system that is highly functional in our venues, and will last for years to come.”
GDS by ETC products are only available in North American and Latin American markets. For information about GDS products in other regions, please visit www.gds.uk.com.