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Dallas’ Meyerson Symphony Center: grandMA Saves the Day, Is Here to Stay

Owned and managed by the City of Dallas, the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center is home to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and plays host to other musical ensembles/events as well as various corporate meetings, religious services and other events.

Called “One of the greatest concert halls in the world,” the large, complex, open-space hall boasts unsurpassed and elaborate acoustic accommodations. The lighting system on the other hand was essentially “cobbled together” over the last 15 years, Meyerson had welcomed a succession of lighting consoles and other technology until Vari-Lite installed a large system, and they kept “building on top of what was there,” reflects Peter Maurelli of Barbizon Light of the Rockies, who sold Meyerson a grandMA lighting console, distributed by A.C.T. Lighting. “Our goal,” he says, “was to not only put the grandMA in, but to improve the network infrastructure and build backbone they could rely on for a long time.”

Says Maurelli: “The grandMA is enjoying wide popularity in all sectors of the market. It‘s a great console. It does more than most people anticipate and has what everyone needs. House technicians and staff,” he continues, “may not come from a huge moving light background and may have limited programming knowledge. They‘re looking for ease, convenience and flexibility. As a salesperson and integrator, I‘m comfortable recommending it because I know it will offer the features I need.”

When the Meyerson staff realized they were in desperate need of a state-of-the-art console, they wrote a spec to incorporate the grandMA. The unit would be integral to their system.

Meyerson lighting technician Ed Schmitt recalls: “When we opened our doors in 1989, we ran modified Colortran dimmers, the first of their kind. At the time,” he explains, “it was a revolutionary install. We‘d moved through many other control systems until in ‘97 when the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, our primary tenant, decided to embark upon TV production, so they sunk a lot of money into lighting trusses, moving lights and Sensor packs for the facility. At first they didn‘t think anyone else was going to use this equipment but then other arts groups wanted to utilize the VL‘s, so we hobbled along for many years controlling movers with a console that was not particularly user-friendly for moving lights.” Eventually the Meyerson stage operations staff had to get serious about a replacement console. Bottom line: Everything was getting overworked.

Says technical director Lamar Livingston: “We‘d looked at various consoles. Then we started a conversation with the sales team at Gemini Stage Lighting, who got us interested in the grandMA.” They‘d done a lot of research, interviewed a lot of road designers as to what they‘d use, and also asked their concert production staff about the advantages of using the grandMA. After we settled on the grandMA it became evident that we also needed to update our cable plant with an integrated network solution to match the proposed new control capabilities.

Meyerson lighting technician Chris Head claims that their hectic schedule “spawns a vicious turnaround. Rehearsal often ends at 5:00PM and then we have to be ready at 7:30PM for another group who is taking the stage. We needed something we could move on the fly, to be able to grab a console and run. Now, with grandMA and our newly integrated network designed by Barbizon, the hall is a lot more a la carte than ever.”

Head cites another “cool selling point: We‘d wanted 3D visualizing software, and the grandMA is already set up for that.. The concert hall is constantly booked with rehearsals. With the 3D visualizer we can get things done in advance with no dark time. We‘re really loving it,” he beams. “There‘s great flexibility in being able to customize user profiles. In addition, I can see a difference in the fluid movement of the lights, and the effects generation capability has allowed us to create looks that are amazing.”

“And best of all,” remarks Head, “we can collaborate. And that‘s really nice!”

About A.C.T. Lighting
A leading importer and distributor of lighting products, A.C.T. Lighting, Inc. strives to identify future trends and cutting edge products, and stock, sell and support their inventory. The company provides superior customer service and value for the money to all of its clients. For more information call 818-707-0884 or visit www.actlighting.com.

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