RMB Starlight Classics - a family affair
Friday, 22 November 2019
classicsRMB Starlight Classics has become a springtime tradition (photo: Duncan Riley)
South Africa - Music lovers gathered for the RMB Starlight Classics at the Country Club Johannesburg in September to experience a harmonious journey that has become a springtime tradition over the past 20 years. The RMB Starlight Classics is hosted twice annually in Johannesburg and at Vergelegen Wine Estate in Somerset West respectively.
Sam McGrath and Joanne Jaques from Jam Events have managed the production since its inception in 1998, which is one of the crown jewels in the South African event calendar. “RMB Starlight Classics is an amazing product and has grown beyond anything we thought it would,” explains McGrath. “We have reached a point where the technical team is a family.”
Gearhouse South Africa once again provided the dome structure, as well as all lighting requirements. Peter Abrahamse, who has worked on the event since 2005, was appointed as project manager. “It’s probably my favourite gig, and I get to do it twice a year,” he says.
“The show really has evolved over the years, and while it’s always held under a Gearhouse In2Structure roof, the lighting changes every time. The venues are beautiful too - we work outdoors and the client, RMB, are amazing and take great care of us. Sam and Jo have put together a top team over the years and handpick the people with whom they want to work.”
Abrahamse continues: “The great thing is that they also love it when promising youngsters from the Gearhouse’s Kentse Mpahlwa Academy, work on the event. RMB Starlight Classics is a great platform for learning, and Sam and Jo have flown students to work in Cape Town or Johannesburg.”
The vision for the lighting design, by Joshua Cutts of Visual Frontier, was to create a clean, static picture, something the audience could admire but which would not detract from the performance. For the first time on RMB Starlight Classics, Andre Siebrits worked with Josh and they each operated and programmed on a full-size grandMA2. “The grandMA is always seamless, and we used it on this production from the visualiser to the finale without any problems,” says Siebrits. “It really has, once again, proven to be the backbone of the show.
“This year, instead of using five truss ‘fingers’, Joshua decided on straight lines across the dome to create a neat and elegant look,” continues Siebrits. “We had 24 Vari-Lite VLZs and 23 Robe Spiiders positioned on the horizontal truss to supply backlight and effects, with subtle gobo work over the orchestra.” The rig also included 24 Robe BMFL Blades.
New technology on the show included two Robe RoboSpots, which controlled two Robe BMFL FollowSpot LT (Long Throw) replacing Strong Super Trouper (2KW Zenon) and Strong Gladiator (3KW Zenon).
The line-up included Zahara, international guest tenor Gaston Rivero, piano virtuoso Charl du Plessis, Musa Ngqungwana, Lee Scott and The Voice South Africa’s Siki Jo-An. These vocalists were supported by the Joburg Festival Orchestra, Quava vocal group and the Chanticleer Singers.
RMB Starlight Classics 2019 was directed by Darren Hayward, and conducted by Richard Cock and Chad Hendricks.
(Jim Evans)

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