Light Odyssey at Winter Gardens Blackpool
The magnificent Empress Ballroom was filled with a breathtaking explosion of classical music and spectacular 3D animations for the ambitious and gloriously successful Light Odyssey.

The historic room, with its newly restored ceilings, came alive with a kaleidoscope of visuals created by six world-leading animators as an interpretation of the stunning architecture and music of the BBC Philharmonic.

Wowing spectators with “an epic journey of light, space and sound” this magical production involved 90 musicians led by acclaimed Norwegian conductor Eivind Aadland, performing Copland, Britten and Saint-Saëns, and classical favourites such as Barber’s Adagio for Strings.

Blackpool was a fitting host for this incredible one-off event, the first of its kind in the UK. For it’s thought the resort was also home to the world’s first electric streetlights, with thousands travelling to see the moment “artificial sunshine” began to glow from arc lamps along the promenade in 1879.

Light Odyssey was the brainchild of Creative Director Alex Rinsler and Production Manager Phil Holmes. The ambitious duo were quite rightly excited about the significance of this remarkable event, as the performance was rewarded with a standing ovation.

A delighted Phil declared: “Light Odyssey was a world class, once in a lifetime opportunity to experience a unique creative collaboration of the BBC Philharmonic as their musicians performed classic favourites in the iconic and magnificent interior of the Empress Ballroom, surrounded by stunning light installations, extraordinary animations and 3D projections, imaginatively produced and specially created by the world’s best animators - right here in Blackpool - live on our own doorstep!”

The theme was “sea and a sense of place, experienced anew with light”. The journey began with scans taken of the Empress Ballroom to make a 3D model of the venue. This was used for six designers from the UK, Australia, Germany and the Netherlands - selected from around 50 international applicants - to create bespoke animations.

This phenomenal project also created a training opportunity for students of Video Design for Live Performance at the London Guildhall School of Music and Drama, who worked with the show’s technical partners, QED Productions, pioneers of projection mapping technology.
Debussy’s Prélude de l’Après midi d’un faune was brought to life by Matt and Rob Vale of Illuminos, whose work has taken them from Les Troyens for Lyric Opera, Chicago, to the 2017 Capital of Culture closing ceremony in Cyprus.

“Working with the Empress Ballroom as a canvas has been a one of a kind experience”, said Rob. “The architecture and space is stunning. The chance to work with a live orchestra is very rare, and to respond to such a beautiful piece of music has been both a unique challenge and a privilege. It was also exciting to be working alongside other projection artists – we were as excited as everyone else to see all the hard work come to life in its full musical and visual scale on the night. We hope guests felt our crafted a piece brought beauty and wonder to Light Odyssey, as we spent time in the company of faeries.”

Alongside the Vales’ mythical creatures were themes of nature and sea mythology from award-winning multimedia designer Dan Shorten of Anomic Multimedia. Also a creative director at Guildhall School, his work includes large-scale projection artworks for a range of clients including the Tower of London, The British Museum, Glastonbury Festival and Blackpool Illuminations. Speaking ahead of the event, Dan predicted: “The audience can expect to be surprised, this will be a unique experience for them. The quality of all the elements is exceptionally high. It's been a great honour to be involved, inspiring and challenging in equal measure."

Phil said: “We hope this special event will go down in Blackpool’s entertainment history as one of the most ground-breaking and innovative melting pots of culture, art technology and live music experiences ever performed in the resort".

Light Odyssey is part of Blackpool’s award-winning Lightpool Festival, made possible with £85,000 of public funding through Arts Council England’s National Lottery Project Grants; other key partners include VisitBlackpool, LeftCoast and the BBC Philharmonic.

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