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OrchestRAM: An Orchestral Journey into Drum & Bass

Prize(s) Winners in Concert Lighting Installation / Music Event Lighting
Company Guildhall Live Events
Lead Designers Jon M Armstrong
Other Designer's names Creative Director: Dan Shorten, Laser Designer: Toby Macknight
Client RAM Records/Barbican Centre
Photo Credits Elliott Mountford/Mark Allan
Other Credits MA3 Programmer: Guy Knox-Holmes
Completion Date 11th March 2023
Project Location Barbican Hall, London
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Entry Description

I was commissioned to design this crossover event, which bridged the worlds of club and orchestral performance, and integrated a 40-piece orchestra, live DJ, electronics and vocals.

The brief was to use light to create production design and form in an empty stage, that embraced and celebrated the emotional & physical impact of Drum & Bass clubbing, and that was deeply integrated into the structure and moods of the music. To that end, the design was timecoded to every kick, hit, snare and drop in the tracks.

The space was carved out in different heights, depths and geometries of light, which allowed for a huge degree of flexibility and variety. GLP X4s provided a moveable light curtain. A ring of Clay Paky B-Eye K15s ramped up in a circle around the orchestra allowed me to play with both delicate, fluttery, chases with the centre pixels, as well as full beamlight moments. A grid of Robe Pointes in the overhead rig allowed for brutal stabs of strobing narrow beams during high-tempo techno-inspired tracks. And the overhead MAC Vipers allowed for complex beam shaping to dress the orchestral space.

During 100 hours of pre-vis, the lighting was intimately integrated with the video and laser design, allowing for a seamless conversation between the three disciplines. This allowed for an organic production design where each element worked in sympathy with the other.
Sustainability Approach

All our equipment was hired, so intrinsically set up for re-use in a circular economy, and avoiding the packaging that comes with bought kit.

Van journeys were kept minimal, with truck packs designed to move equipment in as few journeys as possible.

In addition, all the hired lighting equipment was LED.

Our operations and activity are covered by our recently reviewed Environmental Sustainability Policy which is supported by a number of other policies and strategies including the recently created Education for Sustainable Development Strategy Statement and Staff and Student Engagement Strategy. Additionally, we have also written a new Carbon Management Plan for the School to take us to Net-Zero on our Scope 1 & 2 carbon emissions by 2027 and by 2040 on our Scope 3 emissions.
Company Description

Guildhall Live Events work across the Production Arts and Innovation Depts. at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. The School is ranked No.1 in the Arts, Drama & Music, Complete University Guide 2024 and No.1 HE institution in the Guardian University Guide 2024 music league table. We work with colleagues in Electronic & Produced Music & our award-winning R&AV Dept. We’ve delivered over 30 projects, receiving praise and awards for our work including, Blackpool Lightpool, Love Light Norwich, Lumiere, LSO, RAM Records, Royal Docks, Tower Bridge and recently OrchestRAM at Barbican Hall.