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Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Tour Rolls Cross Country With Clay Paky

It wouldn’t be Christmas without Mannheim Steamroller. The distinctive ensemble is marking the 29th anniversary of its Christmas concert tours with a multimedia display featuring a light show and big-screen images and videos synchronized with their music. Lighting designer Richard Jackson has included Clay Paky Sharpy Washes in his rig for the first time.

Mannheim Steamroller debuted their first Christmas album in 1984 combining the group’s signature mix of baroque instruments and rock ‘n roll beats to give a fresh twist to holiday classics. This year two tours of six-member ensembles are playing 80 dates on a Christmas tour running from mid-November to late December.

Francesco Romagnoli, Clay Paky Area Manager for North and Latin America, commented, “It’s great to see our Sharpys added to such an iconic show. I’m glad that Mr. Jackson is getting good use out of them and I’m sure the audiences will enjoy them as well.”

“Mannheim Steamroller is the longest-running, best-selling Christmas show of all time,” declares Jackson, who has been the tour’s lighting designer for the last five years. “I design the show with the production manager and lighting director for the other tour. I go out with one of the tours and do all the programming as well.”

This year Jackson opted for 16 Sharpy Washes, from long-time Omaha-based equipment supplier TMS, as his primary wash units. “Thanks to the versatility of the light, they have become workhorses,” he says. “We have ten in the air and six on the ground. They do a lot of graphical stuff, high-beam stuff. I can go from a wide wash with great smooth coverage from ten of them then tighten them up and get nice beamy graphical stuff.

“What I really like about them is that they work great in the range of venues we play – from a small place with low trim to a big college auditorium or arena,” says Jackson. “I also like their speed – not just movement speed but the ability to change from a color wheel effect to a color mix wash almost instantly. They have also lowered my power consumption, which is I great. I think they’re fantastic!”

Jackson seems to have struck just the right note for the Christmas tour with his equipment. “All the gear has performed flawlessly even in the extreme temperature changes we experience,” he reports.

The LDs for the two tours are Richard Jackson and Patrick Haines and the lighting techs are Justin Borgelt, Tony Gibson and Andrew Shaw.

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