The venue has been closed for two years, undergoing a $220 million refurbishment. Since 1951, Royal Festival Hall (RFH) has attracted one of the most diverse audiences of any UK venue. For over 50 years it has hosted a wide-ranging program of classical and world music, rock, pop, jazz, and dance. Designed and built in three years, following World War II, the Royal Festival Hall is part of the South Bank Centre, not far from the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
One element of the refurbishment is an overhaul of the Royal Festival Hall’s lighting system. With specifications from theater consultants Carr and Angier to increase flexibility and efficiency while maintaining low ambient noise, specialist installation contractor Northern Light has installed a dimming, networking, and lighting control systems from Electronic Theatre Controls, Inc.(ETC).
Colin Cuthbert, managing director of Northern Light, said: “ETC dimmers and control were selected for the Royal Festival Hall refurb for a variety of reasons. The Queen Elizabeth Hall, one of the South Bank Centre’s other venues, has ETC Sensor installed, so the customer was familiar with the technology. In addition, it was felt that ETC’s Unison control integrated best with the GrandMA lighting desk. Finally, the acoustic properties of ETC’s SineWave dimmers were specifically requested by the consultants.”
The hall was designed to eliminate outside noise, including that from nearby Tube and train lines that run both beside and directly underneath. Sine wave dimming further eliminates noise from tungsten filaments allowing silent operation of lighting. In terms of the remaining circuits, the Hall chose ETC Sensor dimming because it is cost effective, yet still promises to deliver maximum reliability with a minimum failure rate.
More than 250,000 people turned out for the Festival Hall’s reopening “The Overture,” a 48-hour marathon of free music, dance, spoken word, film and visual arts presented by 18,000 performers including four orchestras, 27 gamelan ensembles, 3,000 dancers, 12,000 singers and 2,500 schoolchildren.