America has nothing quite like the Eurovision Song Contest; it's a singular mixture of low kitsch, high technology, and national pride, as most European countries (plus Turkey, Israel, and Cyprus) compete in a pop song contest which is broadcast live. It's also an example of continental democracy in action--during the broadcast, viewers vote for their favorite performances. The winning country hosts the contest the following year.

This year's Eurovision Song Contest was held in May at the International Conference Center in Jerusalem (last year's Israeli winner, a transsexual named Dana International was attacked by outraged members of the Orthodox community but was endorsed by no less an authority than Benjamin Netanyahu). The event was staged in the city's concert hall, which seats 1,500, and was broadcast to an audience of millions. Lighting designer was UK-based Mark Kenyon, chairman of STLD (Society of Television Lighting Designers), whose other credits include such broadcasts as An Audience with the Spice Girls, Noel's House Party, and the Brit Awards. Kenyon put together a gigantic lighting rig that included 288 Martin MAC 500s and 600s, and 60 Martin PAL 1200s, plus 38 Clay Paky Stage Color 1200s and 32 Clay Paky Stage Zooms, controlled by Compulite Sabre and Micron 4D and Flying Pig Systems Wholehog consoles. Equipment for the production was supplied by Procon of Hamburg, Germany; Danor Theatre Systems, an Israeli lighting supplier; and Clay Paky, one of the event's sponsors.

Kenyon put the Stage Color units on a vertical truss placed high above the stage; among other things, they provided a frame for the LCD OptiScreen (supplied by the UK's Proquip Gearhouse) located at the back of the hall. The Stage Zoom units were used to create graphic effects on the stage and walls. The Martin units helped to create vivid stage washes--often focusing on the major set piece, a giant sun with rotating beams located at center stage--and sweeping out over the audience and the competing singers who awaited their fate in the theatre's green room.

As the accompanying photo makes clear, a colorful time was had by all; this is one event that is not afraid to embrace glitz. And this year's winner? Charlotte Nilsson of Sweden, who wowed the international audience with her song "Take Me to Your Heaven." See you next year in Sweden.