MONTREAL – The term “multi-functional” doesn’t normally conjure up images of stateliness and elegance, but the two concepts reside together in perfect harmony within the walls of the Theatre St-James. Located on Montreal’s Rue Saint-Jacques, the majestic four-story building transfixes visitors with its towering fluted columns, elaborate masonry work and a spectacular stained-glass ceiling suspended 22 meters above the floor of its main hall. Once the home of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, the building has been converted into a multi-purpose venue that hosts an impressive array of events, ranging from boxing weigh-ins to fashion shows — not to mention wedding receptions, charity events, concerts and theatrical productions.
Accenting this unique venue’s beautiful architectural features and contributing to its versatility is a powerful lighting design by Garou Blancan of Montreal’s XYZ Technologie Culturelle that draws on a collection of flexible, high output CHAUVET Professional LED fixtures supplied by JAM Industries.
Positioned throughout the building’s 930-square-meter main hall, the fixtures in Blancan’s design include: eight Ovation E-190WW ellipsoidals, four STRIKE 4 multi-formatted fixtures, four Ovation F-165WW Fresnels, eight Rogue RH1 Hybrids, eight Rogue R2 Washes, and 10 COLORado 1 Solo par-style RGBW washes from CHAUVET Professional, as well as 12 CHAUVET DJ COREpar 80 USB washes.
Blancan became involved in lighting the Theatre St-James after the owner of Montreal’s Rialto Theatre (which the designer had illuminated earlier) purchased the historic structure. Given the creative freedom to work with a mixture of architectural and entertainment lighting, he had one objective: to create a design that was flexible enough to handle the myriad of events hosted at venue, but at the same time would preserve and enhance the building’s beauty.
“The sheer size of the space at St. James mandated that the fixtures we used had to have plenty of power,” said Blancan. “At the same time, however, they had to be small and discrete, so they wouldn’t interfere with the stunning architecture. Also, since all of the elements inside the building, including the stages, are moveable and are transformed for many kinds of different events, the fixtures had to be very versatile as well. I had worked with Chauvet fixtures in the past and knew they would meet these needs. The lighting was a big part of our success with this project.”
Controlling his rig with a Martin M1 console through Art-Net/DMX, Blancan has the fixtures repositioned as a matter of routine to accommodate the variety of events hosted at the Theatre St-James. “This project was unique because the lighting needs for this venue change daily,” he said. “The versatility of our fixtures definitely makes a big difference here.”
Contributing to the versatility of the rig, says Blancan, is the wide zoom range of the Ovation E-190WW and COLORado 1 Solo fixtures. Also adding to the flexibility are the multi-functional features of the Rogue RH1 Hybrid and STRIKE 4 fixtures. Like the Theatre St-James, these fixtures, when used by a talented designer, are capable of meeting a wide range of needs, all while looking very, very good.