(Editor’s Note: A few weeks ago, we ran a short piece on the 250th anniversary concert at Columbia University. Jason Showers, lighting director for Advanced Staging Productions in West Chester, PA--the company that handled all the technical production elements--here provides a fuller account of the event, for which BML provided the stage and roof system and all the lighting equipment).

The event took place in Columbia University's "College Square" located between Broadway and Amsterdam and 114th and 119th street in Manhattan. It was an outdoor concert with a 32' x 40' stage with a covered roof system. Performances on Friday night consisted of a host of student performances ranging from a capella groups and various dance teams to soloist musicians. The Saturday night concert was scheduled to have performances by Wyclef Jean opening for Erykah Badu. Believe it or not, an hour before she was due to go on stage, Erykah Badu called and cancelled due to illness. Wyclef Jean literally came and performed for almost two hours to fill Erykah's space. Final attendance was almost 18,000 people.

In addition to the stage, we also did architectural effect lighting on two large buildings at either ends of the square, one directly behind the main stage and the other at the opposite end. BML provided lighting equipment, the stage and roof system and some onsite lighting personnel. A detailed description of each area, designed as three independent lighting systems, follows:

Butler Library
The main building we illuminated was Columbia's main student library, Butler library. Equipment list was as follows:

1 – Hog PC with 2 universes and playback and programming wing
18 - Vari-Lite VL2416 Wash
15 - Vari-Lite VL1000 Arc w/ shutters
15 – 3-cell ground cycs (to light the upper level of this building)

The 2416 Wash units were used to illuminate the large columns on the front of Butler library. The output and color mixing of the 2416s and their tight beams really accented the columns from the buildings beautifully. The Vari-Lite VL1000 arc units were used to illuminate the area between each pillar. We own several Vari-Lite VL1000 Tungsten units and I have been very pleased with them so far, however we needed the extra intensity from the Arc units for this event.

The upper level of this building was covered in color using three cell cycs--15 in total. Budget and roof accessibility prohibited me from using my original design of 15 Coemar Panorama cycs.


Performance Stage
My original spec for the stage/performance area consisted of 24 Vari-Lite VL2000 fixtures (mixed spot and wash) and a host of conventionals. This was eventually changed to meet the rider requirements from Erykah Badu's LD, Martin Thomas, and ended with the equipment list below:

1 - High End Systems Wholehog II with Expansion Wing
12 - Martin Professional Mac 2000 Spot
4 - Martin Mac 2000 Wash
4 - HES Cyberlight
8 - ETC Source Four Ellipsoidal
72 - ETC Source Four PAR
4 - ACL Bar
3 - 8-Light Audience Abuse light
We chose to provide Martin Thomas with the list above, exactly matching Erykah’s rider, so he could just walk in with his show disk and go. Even with Erykah's absence, Martin stuck around and ran the console for Wyclef – leaving David Schmeider from BML and myself to run the two architectural systems.


Low Library
This building is at the opposite end of the college square from the performance area. I lit three all three levels of this building and some mature trees on either side of the building with a variety of fixtures. The lower level pillars were lit with 10 Vari-Lite VL2416s and the wall behind them was lit with 10 three-cell cycs. The large trees on either side of the building were each lit with two Coemar Panorama Cycs providing contrasting color washes on the trees, matching what was happening on the front of both Butler and Low library.

The second level of the building consisted of a large octagonal wall with a 20' x 40' Arched window facing. The wall was lit with eleven 3-cell cyc's and the window was lit with two each of VL2000 Spot and Wash. All of these fixtures were set on the roof with about 15' of throw distance. The zoom in the VL2000's really enabled me to get excellent coverage and still maintain enough intensity to cut through the cycs washing the front of the window. The output of a VL2000 with a 700W lamp is outstanding.

The third level of the building is a large dome--this was slightly more challenging to light as there were no lighting positions anywhere near it or on any rooftop close by. The final solution was to place a pair of Lycian 4K Super Arc followspots on the seventh floor roof of Butler Library, about 700' away. It was my first time using these units and the intensity at that distance was quite incredible. Final equipment list for this area:

1 - Avolites Pearl
10 - Vari-Lite VL2416 Wash
2 - Vari-Lite VL2000 Wash
2 - Vari-Lite VL2000 Spot
21 – 3-Cell Cyc
2 - Lycian 4kW Super Arc Followspot

Russell Keitel programmed the Avolites Pearl for this building, coordinated with my programming of the Hog PC system controlling the other architectural system. Russell was unavailable to operate the console on Saturday night, so David Schmeider stepped into fill his shoes.