André Rieu and the Johann Strauss Orchestra Dazzle Audiences in Maastricht with Martin Lighting Solutions
April 21, 2023
MAASTRICHT, Netherlands—To ensure immersive concert lighting and adequate key lighting for television cameras at the André Rieu Summer Concert Special, Rieu’s touring lighting designer Fabian Huijts collaborated with Light-H-Art –design team Henk-Jan Van Beek, Jaco Alblas and Sebastian Van Der Laan to deploy a massive lighting rig that prominently featured MAC Ultra Performance fixtures.
André Rieu is a world-famous violinist who has garnered acclaim and awards for making the classical music repertoire accessible to audiences of all ages and nationalities. Since founding the Johann Strauss Orchestra in 1987, Rieu’s tours have earned among Billboard’s Top 25 highest-grossing tours in the world numerous times. In 2022, André Rieu played a series of hometown concerts in Maastricht’s Vrijthof, a majestic town square dating back to the Roman Empire. In addition to attracting thousands of fans from hundreds of countries around the globe, the concerts were filmed for live television broadcast.
To help him bring timeless classical masterpieces to life with elegance and intimacy, Rieu turned to his touring lighting designer Fabian Huijts and special event design team Light-H-Art to create an immersive visual design that looks stunning both in person and on camera. Huijts and Light-H-Art deployed a large number of Martin lighting fixtures, with a key role played by MAC Ultra Performance.
“I’ve used Ultra Performance frequently and I like it a lot,” said Van Beek. “It’s the ultimate light for me, because there’s so much output. The last time we did a performance at this location, we had to hang a key lighting truss in front of the beautiful frieze representing the ancient Greek pantheon on the roof structure. We needed to figure out a solution. We needed a fixture that could be mounted on the big towers 100 meters from the stage. Because the fixture needed to provide a lot of light from big distances, we used the Ultra Performance. There was no other fixture that could have done that job. It was the only light that could have given us that much output over that much distance.”
Huijts concurred with Van Beek on being highly impressed with the MAC Ultra Performance’s high output levels, and credited the fixtures with performing a previously impossible task.
“The last time André performed here, there was a big truss obscuring the view of the nice decorations on the elegantly carved roof structure,” said Huijts. “The Light-H-Art team suggested that we can do just as good of a job with the MAC Ultras from the far towers. We couldn’t do that before, but the MAC Ultra makes that possible. Even from the farthest tower—which is 100 meters away—there’s still key light coming from a MAC Ultra. We were able to get rid of the truss that blocks the nice face of the roof structure. Thanks to the MAC Ultra, it was finally possible to do that. It’s nice that you can do the gobo effect, zoom wide, use animation and give it color, and you still have plenty of brightness left. It’s so powerful you can do almost anything you want with it, and is really smooth to focus with precision. MAC Ultra was really the perfect solution. When you say MAC Ultra, everybody on a project lights up. They agree it’s an amazing fixture.”
In addition to the MAC Ultra Performance fixtures mounted on the far sides of the plaza, the lighting team also deployed an array of MAC Encore Performance and Ultra Performance spot fixtures onstage to provide balanced key lighting for the orchestra and choir.
“Key lighting was a combination of MAC Encore and MAC Ultras,” said Huijts. “We used 44 Encores for key lighting the orchestra. We also had a very large choir of 150 people. We did the choir key lighting with six MAC Ultras, and because of its power, brightness and ultra wide zoom—it was perfect.”
Van Beek noted the importance of maintaining consistency across the lighting rig when utilizing large numbers of fixtures on camera to match color and temperature.
“It can be difficult to get a good white balance when you use a lot of different fixtures in a rig,” said Van Beek. “That’s the most challenging thing as a lighting designer for television. It’s important that we have one specific front light that balances the white, and for me that’s the Encore Performance. With Martin fixtures, we can easily match the different fixture types together. If you try to do that with other brands, it’s more difficult.”
Huijts emphasized the role that André Rieu’s audiences play at his concerts, which the artist and team strive to encourage participation and community between the crowd and the orchestra. Martin fixtures’ advanced features and versatility helped the team deliver immersive audience lighting, from blinders to textured effects.
“The audience part is so important to André,” said Huijts. “During the whole show, there’s lighting on the audience, so they feel they’re one group together with the orchestra. It’s a nice energy and supports the applause. We used MAC Quantum Wash for key and back lighting of the audience in the plaza. To extend the dimensions of the stage and interact with the audience a bit, we used Atomic Dots on the roof of the stage for nice starlight twinkles and blinding effects. It gives the concert a touch of magic. They look awesome in every camera shot. I used them at low brightness.
Huijts spoke to the reliability and ease-of-maintenance that comes with using Martin fixtures, despite the rugged conditions and treatment they are subjected to on long international tours.
“I like Martin fixtures the most, because they are really reliable and you can service them easily,” said Huijts “The reliability is the most attractive part to me. We’ve toured with many of the same Martin fixtures with André for many years now. The amount of problems is really low—we rarely have to reset or change a broken fixture. Even considering the fixtures are shipped all around the world and touched by a lot of stage hands, they still work. I will always use Martin.”