Sarah Brightman soars with ChamSys MagicQ
Monday, 24 January 2022
ruby-leigh-image0-005Ruby Leigh on the ChamSys MagicQ 250M Stadium
USA - The Music Centre at Strathmore, Washington DC, is a modern glass-and-steel multidisciplinary arts space. Well-appointed with excellent acoustics, it is like many other performance venues in American suburbs. But last month, this fairly typical space became, in the words of one critic, “a heavenly place to be”.
That happened when Sarah Brightman walked onto its stage as part of her A Christmas Symphony tour. The classical/crossover soprano brought her magic to Strathmore and 16 other venues across the US during the tour, mixing an array of music from Puccini to John Lennon into her two-hour (plus an intermission) show.
Supporting her was lighting and show design by Nathan Taylor. The timecoded lightshow was programmed by Plymouth, UK-based LD Jason Hyne using the suite at NEG Earth, and run during the US tour by Austin, Texas-based LD Ruby Leigh of Allume Live Productions.
Travelling with the team on the tour was the ChamSys MagicQ 250M Stadium. “Portability was critically important in light of the travel schedule,” said Hyne. “I visited ChamSys in the UK for a demo of the 250M in late July 21. Right away, I knew that this is the desk for me. I have used the Chamsys 250M desk over the autumn in the UK with the Kaiser Chiefs festival shows and Roger Taylor’s The Outsider tour, and it has been a revelation to me the power this compact desk can give whilst programming and operating shows.”
Hyne is quick to point out, however, that portability could not come at the expense of performance on the Brightman tour. In this respect, he was extremely pleased that the console comes with the complete ChamSys Stadium Suite, an invaluable asset in helping Leigh run the timecoded show at the tour’s wide range of venues.
For her part, Leigh described how the powerful MagicQ MQ250 with its large, intuitive user interface, along with features like Motorised Faders and easily navigated Cue Stack Tracks helped her on the tour.
“Mostly we performed at 2,500 or more capacity theatres with various stage sizes,” she said. “The rig itself was fairly adaptable, so it worked well in “the bigger, as well as the tighter, spaces. I had to update the various positions during the tour. ChamSys made it really easy for us to adjust the position pallets to fit each venue’s space.
“Making sure the timecode really syncs up is crucial in any timecoded show - and this tour is certainly no different,” continued Leigh. “Each intensity and colour fade needs to be precise or else the effect of the mood can be ruined for the audience, so the precise control that the console gave me was very important.”
With all of the lighting elements coming together smoothly, the design team was able to reflect the deeply moving power of Brightman’s performance. “All of the scenes that we set for the different songs are dynamic in their own way,” said Leigh. “Some are far more dramatic while others are extremely subtle and ethereal. Our goal as a team was to contribute to the audience being in awe of Sarah and the impact of her voice without being distracted by a snap in a cue.”
Seemingly small adjustments like changing a two second intensity fade with a single fixture in a single cue inside of a playback page made a big difference during the holiday tour noted Leigh.
It’s doubtful that any of the fans who turned out for Sarah Brightman’s tour were familiar with the steps involved in accomplishing that feat, but when the great artist concluded her last show on December 21 in New Orleans, it was this kind of attention to detail had helped them enjoy a memorable holiday experience.

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