By Katherine Weinstein | [email protected]
On April 24, Loveland Living Planet Aquarium (LLPA) will resume its popular outdoor music program, “Nights Under Lights”. The Ecosystem Exploration Craft and Observatory (EECO) in Aquarium Square will come alive with bright, colorful lights synchronized with recorded music in a series of monthly themed shows.
Last summer, “Nights Under Lights” proved to be an attractive showcase for EECO. “It was really exciting to see how people get interested in it as an art sculpture,” said Layne Pitcher, Director of Marketing and Communications. “It was very rewarding to see people take advantage of EECO and the place.
Formerly known as “The Claw”, EECO was originally built over a decade ago to serve as the stage for U2’s record-breaking 360 ° tour. Aquarium founder and CEO Brent Anderson attended a U2 concert in Europe and was impressed with the structure. “I didn’t see it as just a piece of functional scenic architecture, it was a dynamic sculpture and a work of art to me,” Anderson said in 2018. He decided to buy it for the new place of the Aquarium.
EECO was installed at the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium in the fall of 2019. The 165-foot-tall structure marks out from the Salt Lake Valley skyline. It functions as a gathering space for special events, concerts and exhibitions and serves as a beacon to attract visitors.
Almost 200 LED luminaires have been installed on EECO to illuminate it in a variety of colors and patterns at varying intensities. The fact that LED lighting is used instead of incandescent bulbs significantly reduces EECO’s energy footprint.
Several designers were involved in creating the designs and the color palette. The project was a joint effort between LLPA staff and Performance Audio consultants in Salt Lake City.
“The entire structure is your canvas, the light is your painting,” explained Tom Thorne, audiovisual engineer at Performance Audio.
To create the “Nuits sous les lumière” shows is to combine light and color with emotion and the rhythms of music. Thorne compared the creative process to inventing a dance. The lighting designer seeks to amplify and punctuate different parts of a song through the color and intensity of light. “A change in color reflects a change in mood,” he said. “You get an ambiance for the feeling, a balance between light and dark.”
“Even leaving the structure dark for a second creates a dynamic that matches the emotion of the song,” Pitcher said.
The entire show is programmed and operated using a Strand NEO console. “It’s exhilarating to be able to run a show like this,” Pitcher said. “It’s like playing music in a club, only you tap into this gigantic structure and see the audience reaction.”
This past summer, the music played on “Nights Under Lights” ranged from 80s hits to contemporary pop and country. LLPA plans to do different musical themes each month. As a nod to the origins of EECO, one or two U2 songs are played to crown each evening.
At least one show per month is scheduled until September, but more could be added as a few shows sold out last year. “We’re safe making sure everyone can distance themselves socially,” Pitcher said, referring to hearing capacity. “We will see what it is safe to do.”
“Nights Under Lights” is family friendly and the public is encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets. A variety of food trucks will be available, but customers will also be able to bring their own snacks and drinks. No alcohol is allowed. On show nights, the Plaza will open at 6:30 p.m. and the light show will begin at dusk.
The Loveland Living Planet Aquarium is located at 12033 Lone Peak Parkway in Draper. For more information and a link to purchase tickets, visit thelivingplanet.com/special-events/nights-under-lights/.