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Rigger Takes Part in Winter Solstice Performance

PLSN Staff • News • January 8, 2009

NEW YORK — Since 1967, the Paul Winter Consort has embraced musical styles and instruments from African, Asian, and South American cultures and fusing those rhythms with American jazz. Sapsis Rigging’s support of the group’s Winter Solstice performance at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine included hoisting one of its riggers about 70 feet high. The rigger, Scott “Gong Guy” Sloan, also happens to be a musician, and he performed with the group by playing a suspended 8-foot-diameter tam. “I never get tired of doing this show,” said Mike Sapsis, head of rigging for the production, who has supported the Winter Solstice show for 20 consecutive years. “The band is great to work with and the cathedral is a terrific place to do a show, especially now that the renovations and repairs from the 2001 fire are complete.”

If supporting the show has its rewards, it’s also not without its challenges. For starters, the venue is one of the largest cathedrals in the world. Construction began in 1892, and is still underway, earning the place the nickname, St. John the Unfinished. “The original cathedral designers and engineers obviously didn't plan for performances like this,” Sapsis said.

Along with the challenge of suspending both Sloan and the tam he was playing, Sapsis Rigging handled the rigging for the event, which included hoisting truss and lighting, setting up a music tree, and suspending an inflatable “earthball.”

Steven L. Shelley handled lighting design and production management, J. Michael Pitzer was the moving light programmer, and Joel Silver was the associate lighting designer. Justin McClintock served as production electrician, Jim Griffith, was the associate production manager and Neelam Vaswani served as stage manager. PRG supplied lighting and Mountain Productions handled staging.

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