Held in the Basílica del Pilar, the concerts – a matinee and an evening performance on April 4th - provided a focal point for Holy Week, the most sacred week of the year for Catholics. A second event, the Lenten Organ Concert Requiem, also took place during Holy Week. This was the first time that audiovisual events of such complexity had taken place in the church, and it was therefore imperative that the technical infrastructure delivered reliable and enjoyable results.
Defined by its author as a ‘pop-style musical’, Via Crucis focuses on the last moments in the life of Jesus as he walks to Calvary for his crucifixion, death, and resurrection. Universal themes of sacrifice, betrayal, loneliness, hope, faith, motherhood, and courage are explored in this work by Salamanca priest and musician Toño Casado, whose numerous credits include 33 The Musical, which premiered in Ifema in 2018 and has been seen by more than 700,000 people. The singers who took part in Via Crucis were Adrián Salzedo who played Jesus; María Virumbrales, who played Verónica; Laura González Serrano as the Virgin Mary, and Cristian Escuredo as Cireneo. Five of the 16 songs were accompanied by the Choir of Infantes del Pilar, and the Basilica’s organ was played by Juan San Martín. Live music was played by Adrián Rivas on keyboards, and María Romero on the electronic drums. Toño Casado narrated the work and radio announcers Luis del Val and Laura Hernández read the texts.
The Zaragoza productions of both the Requiem and Via Crucis were handled by the ARS SYMPHONY|ARTEMUSICALIA company, under the direction of José María Berdejo. He was tasked with creating an audiovisual experience that would enhance the music and the beauty of the Basílica del Pilar, a building widely regarded as one of the most important Christian churches in Spain. Lighting played a key role as it was used to heighten the emotions in each piece of music, as well as highlight the historic and architectural detail of the church. Alex Conde, founder of Aconde Design, a company that specializes in lighting for interior and exterior spaces, was in charge of lighting, in conjunction with technical director David Galligo. Conde specified a selection of Equipson/Mark moving heads, spotlights, parLED, and conventional lights, mounted on Fantek lifters, to create the magical atmosphere that the directors wanted. As someone who experiences synesthesia – a rare phenomenon where people hear a sound and automatically see a color – Conde is adept at using lighting to enhance a mood or an atmosphere. “I have been working in design since 2010 and, for me, the most important thing is to listen and understand music with colors,” he explains. “Each song, each rhythm has a different color and effect, and I use lighting in conjunction with sound to create different sensations and unique atmospheres.” For this project, the main challenge was understanding the space within the Basílica, which houses many notable artworks including an altarpiece by the sculptor Damian Forment which was used as the backdrop for the musical. “The Basílica is not a theatre, or a rock festival stage,” Conde says. “The phrase we repeated most during the installation was ‘respect heritage, respect art, respect religion’.” To this end, the lighting had to blend in with the architecture, and careful thought was given to the placement of truss lifts, cables, and equipment, as well as lighting design. “I spent several days inside the Basílica, silently observing the activities that took place throughout the day and asking the people in charge which areas they felt were most important,” Conde says. “I also studied the ages of the people, where they walked and where they sat so I understood where to place each element in order to bring the architecture and historical heritage to life and surprise the spectators, many of whom have frequently entered the building but had not noticed certain details until they were illuminated.” Equipment from Spanish AV manufacturer Equipson was chosen for this project on the basis of its cost-effectiveness and reliability. “I have always appreciated Equipson’s willingness to offer help and advice, especially when I am dealing with a complex project,” Conde says. “The technical service they offer is important, too. They are very quick to respond if I have any problems.”
In agreement with Jose María Berdejo and David Galligo, Alex Conde specified 12 Equipson/Mark BEAM350 moving head lights that can be inverted 180° and have color wheels that include 13 colors and white. They also have two gobo wheels (one fixed and one rotating) and a prism effect. In addition, Conde installed eight Mark BEAM 201 lights; 12 Mark SIDIUS LLC 368 moving heads; eight Work Pro Sidius 200 moving heads; 16 SUPERMULTIPAR LED 162 W3 lighting projectors; eight PARLED 126 6 IP and eight PARLED ECO 72 projectors; eight Theatre 1000W spotlights and two MFH 1500 Z compact fog machines. Two front load Fantek FT 6045 lifting towers were used to support various lights, while power distribution for the entire system was supplied by four Work Pro WPD 163 and two Work Pro WPD 323 power distributors. “Having different types of moving heads and spotlights allowed me to create different scenes and environments without any problems,” Conde says. “In particular, BEAM 350 hybrid moving heads (beam-spot-wash) allow a single spotlight to perform many functions. I can use these as face lights, open or concentrate the light according to the needs of the show. I also have access to prisms and can use the wash mode to paint the background of the scene with color.” For lighting control, Conde chose LightShark products, including an LS-1 hardware console with assignable faders and rotary controls; two LS-Core 8-universe lighting consoles; two LS-Wing Open Sound Control (OSC) hardware controllers, and two LS-Node2 multiprotocol DMX streaming devices that provided a total of six universes. “I used the entire LightShark product range, with main control delivered by the LS-1 and an LS Wing, and spare control delivered by an LS-Core and the second LS-Wing,” Conde says. “The LS-Node2 were used to distribute the signal to the various different zones inside the Basílica.” A LightShark user since 2018, Conde says he finds the controllers very versatile and easy to program and operate. “Equipson is constantly adding improvements to the LightShark range at both the software and hardware levels,” he says. "Better tools make for better shows and being able to control all the hardware via a web interface helps me to supervise all the sACN signals and make sure they are arriving.” He adds that the largest show he has controlled with LightShark was a music festival with over 120 lighting/effects rigs and almost 4096 channels - 8 full sACN universes – running simultaneously. “That event proved I could use LightShark for small and large events without power or performance problems,” he says. “On several shows I have also programmed with timeline software and OSC (Millumin) commands, controlling video, lights and some soundboard features. I have learned to make these configurations thanks to the LightShark development team who have always helped me with suggestions during an event or challenge. In addition, the new LightShark viewer is allowing me to test shows in a complete LightShark environment, without relying on other software such as wysiwig or vectorworks.” It took two days and a team of five people to set up the light show for Via Crucis. The night before the event, Conde rehearsed and adjusted the schedules to the space, and calibrated and adjusted positions and intensities. “That was a unique moment,” he says. “I was alone without an audience or actors or musicians, enjoying the result for the first time.” Via Crucis was seen by over 3,000 people and was very well received by the audience. The musical is designed to be performed in different Spanish cathedrals during Holy week and plans are now underway to take it to Madrid. Alex Conde is also moving on to new projects – he is currently preparing events for the summer months and testing new effects and color/shape mixtures with LightShark’s latest product, LS-Ray.