LD Jerry Reinhardt has touring in his blood. After many years with such acts as Cher, Van Halen, Neil Diamond, and Chicago, he has taken on a new challenge. Now a resident of Perth, Australia--the most isolated city in the world, and a far cry from his former home of Reno, NV--Reinhardt works with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra.
It's just as well that life on the road suits him, as the orchestra, which has 90 musicians, services an area the size of Texas and California combined. The orchestra brings music to communities with no experience of live performances on its scale; in some towns, the population triples when the musicians visit, just by their very presence.
Reinhardt has worked with the orchestra for the last couple of years, after deciding to ditch the rock-and-roll grind. He also oversees its transport and scheduling. Besides the extremes in geography and climate, he says a major concern is the absence of facilities usually taken for granted. "We go into communities that may not be able to supply 32A, three-phase service, so I bring a 100kVA generator. I don't rely on picking up a generator in some of the places we go to, since any old one off a farm is not going to be suitable."
For a recent tour into the far northwest of the state, Reinhardt toured a rig of 48 NSP PAR cans controlled by a 36-channel Jands desk. "It's a pretty basic setup; the lights come up full and stay there, which can cause us problems with power," Reinhardt says. "The last thing we need during a concert is to lose a phase with musicians trying to read music."
Reinhardt believes one of the hardest jobs in lighting an orchestra of this size is to keep all the players happy. "They don't want any light in their eyes; they want to look up and see the conductor without looking directly into the lights, because when they look down all they see are dancing black dots." The LD says the best approach is to have the light hit them from above, but this isn't always possible on tour.
"We played mainly outdoors and often in places that are not usually performance areas, such as on top of a swimming pool and on the beach," Reinhardt says. "It's not very cost-effective to build a huge roof structure just so the orchestra can have downlight, so I made sure I flattened out the angles so the light hit them from side-on. I also used pale colors like blues and pinks. It's simple lighting, but the orchestra doesn't like too many cue changes, because they're reading music."