The Bridgewater Hall Flexes with ChamSys  

Officially opened on December 4, 1996, by Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh, the 2,400-seat The Bridgewater Hall is a source of pride for all of Manchester. Yet, it does present a challenge for the facility’s technicians who are often called upon to run the lighting for its many events.

Jonathan Rowland, Technical Manager of the hall, recently made it easier for his staff to perform this task by installing a ChamSys MagicQ MQ80 console. “Given the volume and diversity of what is booked here — everything from orchestral to rock concerts, as well as corporate events and graduations — our techs are often running the lights,” he explained. “We needed a lighting desk that all of our technicians could operate, even the sound guys!

“We looked at the available options that aligned with what our venue needed,” continued Jonathan. “A trusted supplier, Chris Bogg of DBS Solutions, recommended ChamSys. The more we studied it, the more it seemed that the MQ80 with a PC Wing fitted the bill perfectly. The layout is simple and user-friendly, and the touchscreen-only adds to that simplicity. We like that the screen is a good size, easy to read, and allows you to change the user view when necessary.”

For a typical show or event, The Bridgewater Hall’s ChamSys console will use the preset faders or will work on the Execute function on the PC Wing.  “This is really a treat for us,” said Rowland. “It’s really simple to put any previous settings/states onto the faders in seconds.”

Although the ChamSys MagicQ MQ80 is simple for the house technicians to run, the console, which supports 24 universes and has 10 Playback Faders with 200 pages, offers a robust array of performance features for running complex shows, something that Manchester Hall’s staff has been doing more of lately.

“Our desk is still used almost on a daily basis simply to control house lights, or for orchestral rehearsals, or to control the overhead whitewash and conductor specials,” said Jonathan. “Larger rock show tours inevitably bring in their own gear. However, we are beginning more and more to operate lights for shows using our ChamSys — and it excels in these applications.”

Indeed, since installing its ChamSys MagicQ MQ80, The Bridgewater Hall has begun to bring in moving fixtures for some of its house-run shows, something it didn’t do with its earlier console. 

“The ChamSys has helped us expand our horizons,” said Jonathan. “In addition to wanting to give our techs a user-friendly desk, we installed the ChamSys so we could go with moving lights, blinders and hazers. This is where the market is headed, even for basic recitals and events. It’s gotten to the point where bringing in moving lights is a regular occurrence here. So, adding ChamSys really made us future proof!”