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Lasers, Lamps and a Luminary

CUE Design and satis&fy on Tour with David Garrett

When David Garrett set out to devise a new stage show for his 2016 tour, he sought to put the music front and center. Nothing less than a 360-degree stage would do to live up to all the expectations of David Garrett, his band, the orchestra and the audience most of all. The motto for his 2016 tour, ‘Explosive,’ said it succinctly:
This is exactly what the music, emotions and mood would have to do—explode.

Living up to great expectations is all in a day’s work for CUE Design lighting maestro Gunther Hecker. His job is largely done when show time rolls around. There’s just one hitch—everything he worked to accomplish has to actually work when the house lights are dimmed. To make sure that happens, the planning and intensive preparations get underway more than a year before the tour kicks off. The eight lighting techs satis&fy assigned to this project join in later. First satis&fy project manager Robert Schwarz and his team hand-pick, assemble and pack up the gear at home. But the going gets tougher when the tour hits the road. A day on the job runs from 7 am to 2 am. That’s too long even for veteran road warriors, so they take it in shifts, with three or four days on and one day off over several weeks.
Robert Schwarz: “Routines become automatic as the tour ­progresses, so we could set up and tear down that much faster while assuring safety and reliability.” Practice makes perfect, so Robert and the satis&fy lighting crew devote three days to pre-tour rehearsals. ­Gunther Hecker is on hand to help iron out all the kinks and make sure his concept came off as planned.

A lighting rig with three sizes of hexagonal trusses hovers concentrically over the stage. Its lamps and pyrotechnical effects are synced to the choreographed show with exacting precision. The light show is a bow and nod to the artist’s personality. Violinist Garrett, the focus of the audience’s attention, performs in the center of the hall on a rotating platform. It is as if the audience, musicians, and the world itself revolves around this luminary violinist. Laser, lamps and pyro FX carve caverns of light out of the dark room, creating an ephemeral architecture that by turns sets the artist apart and beams him into the audience. A six-panel cylindrical video screen splits the distance between the hall’s ceiling and the performer, showing clips with close-ups of the virtuoso musician’s face and facets of his oeuvre.

Garret has a gift for expressing this complex, banal and crazy world of ours through music and, with the help of his instrument, ­transforming seemingly incompatible genres into a cohesive whole for all to appreciate. And this talent shined brighter than ever on his ‘­Explosive!’ tour.

Photos by Anna Imm Photography

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