One doesn't usually speak of moving lights and medieval cathedrals in the same breath, but maybe that's a mistake. The annual presentation titled The Lyrical Days of Chartres provides an eye-opening demonstration of what can be achieved when automated lighting is applied to one of Europe's grandest houses of worship.

Chartres, located about an hour outside of Paris, remains one of the greatest examples of medieval church architecture. Visitors come away with indelible impressions of its vast line of soaring Gothic arches and its famous rose window that, on a sunny day, fills the building's interior with rays of colored light. The Lyrical Days of Chartres is an annual event — now in its 13th year — in which musical presentations highlighting the human voice are held, as a way of publicizing Chartres to an international audience.

As the accompanying photos show, the lighting for the event is designed to show off the glorious architecture of Chartres. LD François Fleury, working with the firm Impact Diffusion, used a combination of Clay Paky automated units to get these effects. Fleury and his partners chose the firm's Stage Color 1200 and Stage Zoom 1200 to highlight the arches and nave walls, creating dramatic looks to complement the onstage performances.

Fleury says, “The Stage Colors and Stage Zooms proved to be first-class products; the Stage Colors supplied any shade necessary, thanks to the countless colors available and the GTC color temperature correction system. The Stage Zooms embellished the architecture, owing to their rich availability of gobos and colors, which blended in perfectly with the stained glass windows.” The use of patterns added an extra layer of texture to the building's interior; the lighting helped create an environment that enriched the look of the performance, placing it within the context of the dramatically lit arches of the building. The overall result was surely a once-in-a-lifetime event for anyone lucky enough to attend.

The package for the project included eight Clay Paky Stage Color 1200s and six Stage Zoom 1200s. Other personnel included lighting technician Christophe Michon and technical director Rolland Hergault. The installation was handled by the firm Orly Aérogare. The Lyrical Days of Chartres definitively proved that medieval architecture and 21st-century technology, when combined, can yield stunning visual results.