Light Odyssey is set to fill the magnificent Empress Ballroom with a breathtaking explosion of classical music and spectacular 3D animations on Thursday 18th October. The historic room, with its newly restored ceilings, will come 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.
Promising spectators “an epic journey of light, space and sound”, this magical production will involve 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 is 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 is the brainchild of Creative Director Alex Rinsler and Production Manager Phil Holmes. The ambitious duo are quite rightly excited about the significance of this remarkable event.
Phil explained: “Light Odyssey is a world class, once in a lifetime opportunity to experience a unique creative collaboration of the BBC Philharmonic as their musicians perform 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 is ‘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 have been working with the show’s technical partners, QED Productions, pioneers of projection mapping technology.
Debussy’s Prélude de l’Après midi d’un faune will be 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’s also exciting to be working alongside other projection artists – we’ll be as excited as everyone else to see all the hard work come to life in its full musical and visual scale on the night.”
“Debussy’s Prélude de l’Après midi d’un faune is a musical reflection of the poem of the same name by Stéphane Mallarmé, and evokes the waking of Pan - the faun - from his slumber in the afternoon; the metamorphosis of trees and water, the heat of the sun, flights of swans, the constellations, and sensual dreams. In developing this projection artwork, we wanted to reference the earliest animations seen in Lotte Reiniger’s beautiful and pioneering silhouette work of the early 1900s, following the undulations in the musical composition, morphing and breathing with the swells of live sound.
“We hope that we have crafted a piece that brings beauty and wonder to Light Odyssey Festival, as we spend time in the company of faeries.”
Alongside the Vales’ mythical creatures are 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.
Dan predicts the event will be mind-blowing. “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 a great honour to be involved, inspiring and challenging in equal measure. Working on a collaborative project, but largely in isolation, has been exciting. You want to deliver yourself, but remain extremely excited about what the other collaborators are bringing. I can’t wait to see it all come together.”
There appears to be no doubt that Light Odyssey will be jaw-dropping.
Phil urged: “The magnitude of 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 - so be a part of it - do not miss this very special night of magic, music and magnificence!”
Light Odyssey is part of Blackpool’s award-winning Lightpool Festival (held over half term, 25-27 October) featuring the Carnival of Lights, RUSH dance spectacular, arts trail and glow in the dark football, with a fire, light and pyrotechnic finale.
Phil added: “This free, accessible festival lights up parts of Blackpool people may never have noticed before. Come and marvel at the sparkling entertainment and amazing buildings, and take pride in the so often overlooked splendour of our beautiful town.”
Tickets priced from £20 are available from www.ticketmaster.co.uk/light-odyssey
The Lightpool Festival has been 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.