Wonder a scientific oratorio

wonderThe year 2009 celebrates the international year of astronomy, 40 years since the moon landing, and 200 years since the death of the composer Haydn. To mark these significant events, the BBC commissioned Salford-based composer Alan Edward Williams to write Wonder, a 21st century vocal work that reflects our present understanding and scientific knowledge of the creation theory.

The BBCs project manager and producer Martin Maris asked Lighting designer Chris Bogg to come onboard and assist in helping the project look spectacular. “I worked very closely with designer David Millard throughout the project” says Chris. “David’s Idea was to create a space feel to the whole venue, we looked at suspending large planet like spheres over both the audience and the orchestra. This idea evolved into using super size weather balloons filled with helium and floated from locations within the orchestra.” Although this now solved many of the problems of suspending such spheres from the venues roof space, Chris explained “this now meant that due to the balloons being a one use only item, painting them like the surface of a planet was now not possible”. It fell to the lighting team of Chris, Damien Jackson and Sam Edwards to make these white balloons look like planets. Each planet was lit from the floor with 2 source four profiles with texture gobos in them. Further texture was then applied from the 6 future light PHS260 moving lights dotted around the outside of the Orchestra. The 100 strong choir from The Salford Choral Society and the BBC Singers was then lit from more source four profiles, and a range of fresnels with scrollers for colour changes. Chris programed the lighting rig from a Chamsys MQ100 Pro the evening before the event during dark time after the Philharmonics rehearsals.

The project has been a great success and is a true reflection of what can be achieved turning your average university hall into a truly theatrical experience. “It has given me great personal pleasure to work with all the dBS team on this complex and often demanding project, but the audio/visual installation and the three performances made it all worthwhile” says the BBCs Martin Maris.

More work in the lower hall was on display as part of the project, 250 school children and students created an art installation complete with sound scape and again lit by designer Chris Bogg.

Photos of the concert and the exhibition space will be available soon in the showcase section.