On October 21, 2005, Omaha, NE, celebrated the Grand Opening Festival of the new Holland Performing Arts Center, a state-of-the-art performing arts complex. The Holland Center is also one of the first venues in the US to own ETC’s new Congo lighting control console.

The impressive 175,000-sq.ft facility houses a 2,000-seat concert hall, a 450-seat chamber music hall, and a semi-enclosed 1,000-seat outdoor performance and event garden. Its multi-level, multi-function lobby will be used for exhibitions and includes retail space and food services. Named in honor of Mary and Richard Holland, the $92 million structure is the first building to be erected in a new cultural complex in Omaha.

The Holland Center and its companion venue the Orpheum Theater are home to Omaha Performing Arts and are the sites of Omaha Performing Arts Presents, a multi-disciplinary series that features over 40 performances by national and international touring artists. The series brings to Omaha outstanding performances in classical and jazz music, dance, family entertainment, and Broadway, as well as noted speakers and popular entertainers. The Orpheum Theater continues to be the venue for Opera Omaha productions.

Since the Holland Center’s Peter Kiewit Concert Hall has an extensive lighting rig–including more than 60 ETC Source Four® conventional fixtures of varying degrees and more than 50 VARI*LITE moving lights–production manager Buck Weyerman and master electrician Scott Wasson started looking for a versatile lighting console that could handle intricate lighting plots using both automated and conventional fixtures.

“I had my choice of any lighting console for the Holland,” says Weyerman, who had read about the Congo console before the board became available to American markets. He was impressed by the ETC and Avab pedigree and the way the board had controlled the multimedia-filled 2005 Eurovision Song Contest. ETC’s 24-hour customer and technical service was another draw: “I’m confident having dealt with ETC in the past that they would provide support if we needed it.” Ultimately, he chose Congo.

According to Wasson, who has toured as electrician with Dave Matthews, the Congo “is a very powerful design tool.” Holland’s new Congo seamlessly controlled the lighting schemes for an array of performances including theatre, dance and ballet, as well as classical, jazz, chamber and international music during the 10-day Grand Opening Festival. Weyerman and Wasson were so satisfied with the board that they decided to purchase another Congo for the recital hall opening at the end of the year.

The Holland Center is also one of the first venues to use ETC Congo Client™ wireless control. A rack-mounted computer in the booth and another on the stage run the lights. The theatre also has a laptop with wireless NIC used for remote Congo video over the wireless connection. Soon the theatre will incorporate a Congo Radio Remote Focus Unit (cRRFU) into their system. With a 3,072-channel output and 1,024 patchable outputs, Congo also interfaces with the theatre’s custom ETC house-light controls.

The concert hall was designed by the architectural and engineering firms HDR and Polshek Partnership. Kirkegaard Associates joined the design team as acoustic consultants. Theater consultants Fisher Dachs Associates who helped plan the Holland Center.

Inspired by the Musikverein in Vienna, Austria, the concert hall features a glass clerestory that allows natural light to help illuminate the stage. The Holland Performing Arts Center and the Musikverein are the only two theatres in the world with this design. The concert hall is designed to create an intimate setting between audience and performers; its shoebox configuration, like fin-de-siècle Viennese concert halls, includes audience seating behind the musicians, often on stage.

Throughout the Holland Center architectural lighting control is done by an ETC Unison® system, controlling over 3,600 lighting fixtures. ETC dealer Heartland Scenic Studio specified the Holland Center job and worked for two years on the project.