The Vienna Philharmonic’s Summer Night Concert (Sommernachtskonzert) has been a highlight in the classical music calendar worldwide for many years. This year, in front of the magnificent backdrop of the Schönbrunn Palace, the famous orchestra played pieces of French romanticism and expressionism for the first time under the direction of Canadian conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Another audience favourite, the Latvian mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča, also made her debut at the Summer Night Concert.
As in previous years, internationally renowned LD Jerry Appelt was responsible for the lighting design of the orchestral stage and the entire ambience, including the palace façade and the extensive baroque park area up to the gloriette. He also acted as DoP for the time-shifted TV broadcast on ORF, whose signal was picked up by numerous international television stations.
For Appelt, the Summer Night Concert occupies a special place in his heart. As far as the lighting of this classic event, he was taking no chances, and once again turned to the GLP catalogue for the majority of the lighting.
More than 280 fixtures from the German manufacturer were deployed – between the stage, the castle, in the castle garden and at the gloriette, which is located around 2km away. This included 61 impression X5 and, for the first time, the weatherproof impression X5 IP Bars. The new FUSION X-PAR 12 Z, with IP65 protection, also formed part of the light show for the first time.
“We have had a very good experience with the lighting set-up in recent years,” states the designer. “The organisers, the ORF as the broadcasting TV station, and the orchestra itself have always been entirely satisfied with the lighting design. Therefore, I saw little reason to make major changes to the fundamental equipment this year. That said, we have added the new weatherproof devices that are used unprotected in the park, along with corresponding new solutions from the GLP portfolio.”
Stage lighting with impression X5 and impression S350 Wash
Sixty-one impression X5 wash lights and 76 pieces of the well-established impression S350 Wash illuminated the stage. As early as 2022, the designer had replaced the previously used impression X4 with the new-generation impression X5 wash light. The result was more than impressive, as Appelt recalls: “The impression X5 definitely sets a new standard in terms of light quality and performance. With these fixtures, I can even mix pastel tones in a quality that has never been seen before, which is particularly advantageous for orchestra lighting and TV broadcasts. The X5 make a visible difference on stage – that’s why they were a certainty for me again this year.”
On top of that, he illuminated the impressive palace façade, which provides the visual backdrop to the orchestra stage, with 54 GLP impression X4 L. The illumination of the extensive baroque palace park, in which the audience congregates, also plays a significant role in the overall staging. Fifteen cameras offered different, sometimes unusual perspectives on the ensemble, consisting of stage, castle, park and gloriette.
Premiere for FUSION X-PAR 12Z and impression X5 IP Bar
It is well known that the central European early summer weather cannot always be relied on. Since it had generally rained before or during the concert in recent years, lighting heads with IP65 protection have proven their worth in unprotected outdoor areas. With 72 FUSION X-PAR 12Z and 12 of the new impression X5 IP Bar 1000, the designer was able to use weather-protected solutions from GLP for lighting the Palace park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – for the first time this year.
A contemporary interpretation of a PAR light, with a single 120W COB RGBL LED engine and Fresnel optics, the FUSION X-PAR 12 Z offers the same outstanding colour mixing as all devices in the X5 Series.
The designer achieved even more consistency in colour reproduction with the first use of the impression X5 IP Bars on the Gloriette, where they served as a beam effect in the camera image with various closeup settings, as well as a decorative uplight in the archways of the gloriette.
“My team and I are very impressed with the light output of the impression X5 IP Bar. The excellent zoom range was also a great advantage when it came to illuminating the Gloriette from the inside. It was the first time we were able to create this effect with a motorised tilt bar without an additional rain cover, which gave us more flexibility in positioning,” adds Appelt.
In addition, eight GLP HIGHLANDER Wash offered lighting effects visible from afar on the Gloriette.
“Using the FUSION X-PAR 12Z and impression X5 IP Bar 1000 resulted in a wonderfully homogeneous light image, since the colour mixture is identical in all devices,” notes Jerry. “The impression X5 IP Bar allows me to use the X5 colour mixture that I have come to love in a linear form, which opens up new design possibilities for me. The FUSION X-PAR 12Z were an excellent choice for the ambient lighting in the park, especially thanks to their weatherproof housing, because it rained particularly heavily this year.”
Vienna Philharmonic: Johannes Schneider.
Organisers: Anneliese Pontiller and Zigo Mutschlechner.
Lighting design and DoP: Jerry Appelt.
Gaffer: Dirk Hämmerling.
Gaffer: Markus Ruhnke.
Gaffer (ORF): Roberto Berkenbrock.
Show light operator: Manfred Nikitser.
Keylight operator: Ole Güllich.
Audience/gloriette operator: Max Strobl.
Operator setup: Emanuel Joergner.
Photo credit: Manfred Nikitser.