Words like “soaring” and “inspirational” come up often when critics write about Gentri. It’s easy to see why. With its sweet harmonies and lush orchestration, the music of these three Utah-based tenors gives wings to the imagination.
Their sound can also inspire an uplifting lighting design — even on short notice. This was plain to see at the trio’s recent socially distant livestreamed concert at Salt Lake City’s Maverik Center, where Nicolas “Murph” Murphy supported their evocative cinematic-like performance with an artful blend of bold light and shadows.
Relying on sharply focused beams and a variety of light angles, Murphy sculpted the three tenors on stages, amplifying their charismatic qualities. He also endowed the stage with greater depth by balancing bold swaths of light with shadows, and mixing reds and greens with vivid ambers, blues and other hues.
Impressively, Murphy, the owner of Murphy’s Production Services, pre-programmed this 11-universe, 82-fixture show, which he ran on his MagicQ MQ500 Stadium console, in a few hours with help from his ChamSys MagicVis software.
“The group’s production manager is an old high school friend of mine,” he said. “I was able to get a recording of every song they planned to perform. I tend to listen to the track a few times and then program out what I visualized in my head. Kind of my normal process when I am afforded the time. Due to our limited time available in the venue, I pre-programmed everything in MagicVis at my house in less than a day, something I was able to do, because it’s so easy to work with this software.”
Arranging his fixtures, which were supplied by Clear Lamp A/V, on stage left and stage right vertical truss structures as well as on three rows of overhead truss, Murphy created distinctly different looks throughout the concert to reflect its evolving moods. “My design process kind of boils down to just how I think and visualize the music,” he said. “I conceptualize the lighting rig that would be best suited for optimal coverage, whittle down the rig to fit within budget/time constraints, visualize how I want the stage to look, and then translate into real life. I can’t even draw a straight line or paint worth a damn, but give me light and I’ll paint the world.
“Mostly, I designed this show for the live crowd,” he continued. “But most tours and events I have been doing the last few years involve cameras, so there’s a real chance my work will be viewed on the small screen down the road. Because of this, I now naturally program looks that will work for the camera, but will also look great for whoever sees them in person.”
The stunning looks created for this show also translated well onto photographs. A “bonus” in this concert, notes Murphy was that his design was photographed by Leavitt Wells.
“It was nice to work with a photographer who can represent my lighting so well,” he said. “Leavitt is a gifted photographer and I always look forward to seeing how she captures my work.”
Making it easier for Murphy to run his show was the intuitive layout of his MQ500 console. “The dual built-in large touch screens of the MQ500 are a lifesaver,” he said. “The configurability of the windows means that everything I need is just a touch away. Also, having 15 physical faders per page saves time and gives me a lot more flexibility.”
For Murphy, being able to run the Gentri show was an early Christmas present of sorts, since it represented the first time in 10 months that he was able to work in a large venue.
“There no way to describe how good it felt to be in an arena with a proper lighting rig again,” he said. “The outline of this rig was something I was working on for a client before the pandemic. It was nice to see it come to life in a new and unexpected way for this show.”
Photo: © Leavitt Wells